Now that we've looked at poets' graves, we can look at their wills. Great Britain's National Archives has digitized their collection of wills. Most have a charge for downloading, but some, like Bill's, are free.
It looks cool, but I can't read it. Am I missing that part?
Do you have Adobe Acrobat Reader?
Yes. It came up but it's a photograph of the original. Can you read that? I was looking for actual digital typing. Is that not what you get?
It's perfectly clear on my screen. It says:
"En bft vamt of god dmtu [artist formerly known as Prince] William Clark Fooart of Stratford upon Avon of her maw of raw gent in zogert [or possibly yogurt] palf C mennonite ... "
That's probably enough -- you can see where's it's heading.
There is ANOTHER transcription of Shakespeare's will, and if you want to read that one (complete with modernized spelling and translation provided for the parts that are in Latin), go here:
And here it is all on one page, with original spelling:
Much hath been made of the line: "I gyve unto my wief my second best bed." The explanation that makes the most sense to me is that it was simply assumed that a man's grown children would care for their aging mother. She wouldn't inherit the estate unless he was trying to keep his children OUT of it. So his leaving her that particular bed probably meant only that she happened to LIKE that particular bed.
Someone once tried to make the case that the 2nd best bed was for guests, therefore in reality the best bed, but I wasn't convinced. I don't see mentioned what he intended to do with the first or third best beds, more's the pity.
There's a short story by Connie Willis in which Shakespeare has hidden the secret of who he really is in that second-best bed!
That's it! Second best bed anagrams to 'Bob descendest', meaning Robert is lowered into the grave. Christopher Marlowe's middle name, it is well known, was Robert, so the mystery is solved for all eternity.
So having persued this to indecent length I don't think I want to lay in Robert's bed!
According to my college Shakespeare professor, the best bed was reserved for guests. Therefore, the second-best bed would have been the one William & Anne slept in. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust puts forth this theory on their website.