Jonathan Bate CBE FBA FRSL (born 26 June 1958) is a British academic, biographer, critic, broadcaster, novelist and scholar of Shakespeare, Romanticism and Ecocriticism. He is also Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and Provost of Worcester College, Oxford, having succeeded Richard Smethurst who was Provost from 1991 to 2011.
He was educated at Sevenoaks School, the University of Cambridge and Harvard University, where he held a Harkness Fellowship. 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. He was created a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) on 17 June 2006. He is also a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, and an Honorary Fellow of his undergraduate college, St Catharine's College, Cambridge.
He is married to the author and biographer Paula Byrne, with whom he has three children.
He is a Governor and Board member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and from 2007-2011 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. He sits on the European Advisory Board of the Princeton University Press.
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. 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.
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". 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.
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.
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.
- 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 The Last Essays of Elia. Oxford University Press. 1987.
- The Arden Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus. Routledge. 1993.
- 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. 2008-12.
- Bate, Jonathan (4 October 2008). "Of cabbages and kings". The Spectator 308 (9397): 41. Retrieved 23 December 2008. Review of Robert Pogue Harrison (2008). Gardens : an essay on the human condition. U Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-31789-2.
- In September 2011, he becomes Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford. University of Oxford Media site
- Princeton University Press, European Advisory Board
- Dickson, Andrew (1 March 2012). "Bard Labour". The Guardian (London). p. G2–16.
- "Shakespeare: staging the world" (Press release). British Museum. April 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
- Jonathan Bate's page at contemporarywriters.com
- Jonathan Bate's page at the University of Warwick
- Jonathan Bate's website
- Jonathan Bate's blog
|Provost of Worcester College, Oxford