A new film with Kenneth Branagh at the helm focuses its attention on the later years of Shakespeare’s life, as he retires to Stratford to spend his twilight years with his family. A fictionalised account of the great poet’s retirement after the burning of the Globe Theatre in 1613, it stars Branagh (who also directs) as Shakespeare and Judi Dench as his wife Anne Hathaway. Ian McKellen also makes an appearance as the ageing Earl of Southampton, the poet’s patron and the man widely supposed to be the “Fair Youth” of his sonnets.
The film explores an idea of Shakespeare’s relationships with his wife and daughters, and his struggle to reconcile himself with the death of his son years earlier. Elegiac in tone, it conjures a picture of his home life and surroundings in the Warwickshire countryside, as he works in the garden and retreats to the dark austerity of his house.
Back in the real world, Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon attracts hordes of visitors every year, both to see the productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s home theatres and to visit the houses associated with the poet’s life. These include the dreamily lovely cottage where Anne Hathaway grew up, the townhouse where he himself was born, and his mother Mary Arden’s family farm. Scroll down to see the beautiful exteriors and interiors of the various houses.
All Is True is released in the UK on February 8. For more information on visiting Shakespeare’s houses, go to shakespeare.org.uk.