William Hart (actor)

William Hart (actor)

William Hart was a Jacobean actor who was the nephew of William Shakespeare.

He was born in Warwickshire, England in 1600 and died probably in London in 1639. He was the son of hatter William Hart and Shakespeare's sister Joan.

He started as a child actor and eventually joined the "The King's Men" - his famous uncle's troupe - in the 1630s. He never married although he is thought to have had a by-blow child, Charles Hart, who also became an actor.


It has been suggested that William Hart, who is mentioned in Shakespeare's will, was "the sole begetter, Mr W H", to whom the sonnets are dedicated. Since the sonnets are constantly urging the begetter to marry and have children and even refers to him bearing the looks of his mother (Shakespeare's sister); and, on the death of Shakespeare's own son, William Hart became Shakespeare's male heir, it is tantalising to think that the W.H. mystery is solved. The only problem is that when the sonnets were published, Hart was only nine years old. It is possible that the 1600 birth year is wrong or that Shakespeare may have written the sonnets in anticipation of Hart's coming of age, and may have had to sell the sonnets to raise money quickly.

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