Jonathan Bate

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Sir Andrew Jonathan Bate, CBE, FBA, FRSL (born 26 June 1958), is a British academic, biographer, critic, broadcaster, novelist and scholar. He specialises in Shakespeare, Romanticism and Ecocriticism. He is Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, Provost of Worcester College, Oxford, and Honorary Fellow of Creativity at Warwick Business School.[1]

Early life

He was educated at Sevenoaks School, the University of Cambridge and Harvard University, where he held a Harkness Fellowship.

Academic career

He was a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and then King Alfred Professor of English Literature at Liverpool University before becoming Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at University of Warwick. In 2011, he succeeded Richard Smethurst as Provost of Worcester College, Oxford.[2]

He is a Governor and for 9 years was a Board member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. From 2007 to 2011 sat on the Council of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In 2010 he was commissioned by Faber and Faber to write a literary life of Ted Hughes. This was cancelled when the Estate of Ted Hughes withdrew co-operation.[3] The book was subsequently recommissioned by HarperCollins as an "unauthorised" biography.[4]

He sits on the European Advisory Board of the Princeton University Press.[5]

In 2010, The Man from Stratford, his one-man play for Simon Callow, a commission of the Ambassador Theatre Group, toured the UK prior to an opening on the Edinburgh Fringe. It also played in Trieste. In June 2011 and March 2012 it was revived at the Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall, under the title Being Shakespeare. In April 2012, Callow took the show to New York (Brooklyn Academy of Music) and Chicago. In 2014, it was revived in the West End at the Harold Pinter Theatre.


His publications include Shakespeare and the English Romantic Imagination (1986), Shakespearean Constitutions (1989), Shakespeare and Ovid (1993), the Arden edition of Titus Andronicus (1995), The Genius of Shakespeare (1997), two influential works of ecocriticism, Romantic Ecology (1991) and The Song of the Earth (2000), and a novel based indirectly on the life of William Hazlitt, The Cure for Love. His biography of John Clare (2003) won the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for biography), as well as being short listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize and the South Bank Show Award. In America it won the NAMI Book Award. The Genius of Shakespeare was praised by Sir Peter Hall, founder of the RSC, as "the best modern book on Shakespeare".[6] It was reissued with a new afterword in 2008. Bate also edited Clare's Selected Poetry (Faber and Faber, 2004), and, with Eric Rasmussen, Shakespeare's Complete Works for the Royal Shakespeare Company, published in April 2007 as part of the Random House Modern Library. This was the first edition since that of Nicholas Rowe in 1709 to use the First Folio as primary copy text for all the plays. Each play is also published in an individual volume, with additional materials, including interviews with leading stage directors. A companion volume of the "apocryphal" plays was published in 2013 under the title Collaborative Plays by Shakespeare and Others. It is the first Shakespeare collection to include The Spanish Tragedy, laying out the argument for Shakespeare's authorship of the additional scenes.

Bate's intellectual and contextual biography Soul of the Age: The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare (London, 2008, and in USA as Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare, Random House, 2009) was runner-up for the PEN American Center's PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for the best biography of the year. In 2010 he published English Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press) and in 2011, as editor, The Public Value of the Humanities (Bloomsbury Academic).

Bate is also a frequent writer and presenter of documentary features for BBC Radio 4. His subjects have included The Elizabethan Discovery of England, Faking the Classics and The Poetry of History, in which poems about great events are compared to historical accounts. He wrote the script for Simon Callow's one-man show Shakespeare: the Man from Stratford (later renamed Being Shakespeare) for the 2010 Edinburgh Festival.[7]

In 2012 he served as consultant curator for the British Museum round reading room exhibition for the Cultural Olympiad, Shakespeare: Staging the World, co-writing the catalogue with curator Dora Thornton.[8]

Personal life

He is married to the author and biographer Paula Byrne. Together, they have three children.[9]


In the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) "for services to higher education". He was knighted in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to literary scholarship and higher education.[10][11]

He was elected Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 1999 and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) in 2004.[2] He is an Honorary Fellow of his undergraduate college, St Catharine's College, Cambridge.



  • Shakespeare and the English Romantic Imagination. Oxford University Press. 1986. 
  • Shakespearean Constitutions: Politics, Theatre, Criticism 1730–1830. Oxford University Press. 1989. ISBN 0-19-811749-3. 
  • Romantic Ecology: Wordsworth and the Environmental Tradition. Routledge. 1991. 
  • Shakespeare and Ovid. Oxford University Press. 1993. 
  • Co-editor, Shakespeare: An Illustrated Stage History. Oxford University Press. 1996. 
  • The Genius of Shakespeare. Picador/Oxford University Press. 1997. 
  • The Cure for Love. Picador. 1998. 
  • The Song of the Earth. Picador/Harvard University Press. 2000. 
  • John Clare: A Biography. Picador/Farrar Straus and Giroux. 2003. 
  • Soul of the Age: the Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare. Viking. 2008. ISBN 0-670-91482-7. 
  • English Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. 2010. ISBN 0-19-956926-6. 
  • Editor, The Public Value of the Humanities. Bloomsbury. 2011. 
  • Shakespeare Staging the World. British Museum London/Oxford University Press New York. 2012. , co-written with Dora Thornton.


  • Charles Lamb: Elia and The Last Essays of Elia. Oxford University Press. 1987. 
  • The Arden Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus. Routledge. 1995. 
  • John Clare: Selected Poems. Faber and Faber. 2004. 
  • The RSC Shakespeare: Complete Works. Macmillan/Random House Modern Library. 2007. 
  • The RSC Shakespeare: Individual Works, 34 vols. Macmillan/Random House Modern Library. 2008. 
  • The RSC Shakespeare: Collaborative Plays by Shakespeare and Others. Macmillan. 2013. 



  1. [1] Archived 18 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Bate, Professor Sir Jonathan". Faculty Members. Faculty of English, University of Oxford. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  3. Jonathan Bate, "How the actions of the Ted Hughes estate will change my biography", The Guardian, 2 April 2014.
  4. "Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life, by Jonathan Bate", HarperCollins publishers.
  5. "Princeton University Press, European Advisory Board". 7 July 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  6. "RSC Shakespeare Complete Works Collector's Edition | William Shakespeare | Palgrave Macmillan". 22 June 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  7. Dickson, Andrew (29 February 2012). "Bard labour: Patrick Stewart and Simon Callow tackle Shakespeare the man". The Guardian. London. p. G2–16. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  8. "Shakespeare: staging the world" (Press release). British Museum. April 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  9. "Biography". University of Oxford. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  10. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61092. p. N2. 31 December 2014.
  11. "2015 New Year Honours List" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-11-25. 

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Richard Smethurst
Provost of Worcester College, Oxford
2011 to present