Hamnet Shakespeare (baptised 2 February 1585 – buried 11 August 1596) was the only son of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. He was the twin brother of Judith Shakespeare. He died at age 11. How he died is not known. There are several ideas about a possible relationship between Hamnet and his father's play Hamlet. Other ideas state there is a relationship between Hamnet's death and the writing of King John, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and Twelfth Night. These ideas of a relationship became popular as early as the 18th century. They continued into the 1930s. In the 1930s, thinkers who believed in modernism and New Criticism said the relationship did not matter. Modernism and New Criticism thinkers believe that a writer's life does not change his writing. More recently, as New Criticism has become less popular, the ideas about Hamnet and his father's work have been talked about again.
- Chambers, Edmund Kerchever (1930). William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. I. p.18. OCLC 353406.
A daughter Susanna was baptized on 26 May 1583, and followed by twins, Hamnet and Judith, on 2 February 1585. Guesses at godparents are idle where common names, such as Shakespeare's own, are concerned. But those of the twins, which are unusual, point to Hamnet or Hamlet Sadler, a baker of Stratford, and his wife Judith.
- Schoenbaum, Samuel (1987). William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 94. ISBN 0195051610.
[…] the twins were christened […] on 2 February 1585. Richard Barton of Coventry […] officiated[.]
- Chambers, I. p.21. “[…] Hamnet was buried at Stratford on 11 August 1596.”
- Schoenbaum, Samuel (1987). William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life. china: Clarendon Press. p. 224.
[…] the parish register records the burial of […] Hamnet, aged eleven and a half. His death doomed the male line of the Shakespeares to extinction.
- Dexter, Gary (2008). Why Not Catch-21?. p. 34. ISBN 9780711229259.