Lionel Charles Knights

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Lionel Charles Knights (15 May 1906 – 8 March 1997) was an English literary critic, an authority on Shakespeare and his period. His essay How many children had Lady Macbeth? (1933) is a classic of modern criticism. He became King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge in 1965.

Early life[edit]

He was born and went to school in Grantham. He was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he read History and English, graduating in 1928.

Literary career[edit]

He was a co-editor of Scrutiny, the literary journal of F. R. Leavis's school, from May 15, 1932 to 1953 when it ceased publication.

He was an English lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1933, then Professor of English Literature at the University of Sheffield in 1947 and the Winterstoke Professor of English at University of Bristol in 1953. From 1965-73, he was King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge.

Personal life[edit]

He married Elizabeth Barnes in 1936. They had a son, Benjamin, and a daughter, Frances. Knights died in Durham in 1997.[1]


  • How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth. An Essay in the Theory and Practice of Shakespeare Criticism (1933) [1]
  • Drama & Society in the Age of Jonson (1937)
  • Explorations: Essays in Criticism Mainly On the Literature of the Seventeenth Century (1946)
  • Poetry, Politics and the English Tradition (1954)
  • Some Shakespearean Themes (1959)
  • An Approach to 'Hamlet' (1960)
  • Shakespeare: The Histories (1962)
  • Further Explorations (1965)
  • Public Voices: Literature and Politics With Special Reference to the Seventeenth Century (1971)
  • Coleridge's Variety: Bicentennial Studies (1974) editor with John Beer
  • Explorations 3: Essays in Criticism (1976)
  • Selected Essays in Criticism (1981)
  • Regulated Hatred and Other Essays on Jane Austen, with D. W. Harding and Monica Lawlor


  1. ^ Obituary: Professor L. C. Knights Boris Ford, Professor Henry Gifford 14 March 1997, The Independent