Germaine Greer argues that the age difference between Shakespeare and Hathaway is not evidence that he was forced to marry her, but that he was the one who pursued her. Women such as the orphaned Hathaway often stayed at home to care for younger siblings and married in their late twenties. As a husband Shakespeare offered few prospects; his family had fallen into financial ruin, while Hathaway, from a family in good standing both socially and financially, would have been considered a catch. Furthermore, a "handfast" or probationary marriage and pregnancy were frequent precursors to legal marriage at the time. Examining the surviving records of Stratford-upon-Avon and nearby villages in the 1580s, Greer argues that two facts stand out quite prominently: first, that a large number of brides went to the altar already pregnant; and second, that autumn, not spring, was the most common time to get married. Shakespeare was bound to marry Hathaway, who had become pregnant by him, but there is no reason to assume that this had not always been his intention. It is nearly certain that the respective families of the bride and groom had known one another.