Who was Ann Shakespeare? We really don't know. Not even her birth date is secure. Generations of Shakespeare scholars have blackened her reputation to make her absentee husband look good. Germaine Greer thinks this in grossly unfair. And quite right too.
Trouble is there's no evidence either way . Greer dervives a high doctrine of marriage from the plays and argues that certain of the more deeply felt sonnets were written by Shakespeare to his wife. And that's it really- a couple of chapter's worth of solid, literary scholarship. The rest is conjecture and social history- Anne may have done this, she may have felt that. I ploughed laboriously through the first chapter- an almost unreadable chronicle of ancestral Hathaways- their hatchings, matchings and despatchings- and decided this was a book for skimming.