Sir Stanley William Wells CBE (born 21 May 1930) is a Shakespearean scholar, writer, professor and editor who has been honorary president of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, professor emeritus at the University of Birmingham, and author of a number of books about Shakespeare, including Shakespeare Sex and Love, and is general editor of the Oxford and Penguin Shakespeares. He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon and was educated in English at University College, London.
Wells was born in Hull, the son of Stanley Cecil Wells MBE and Doris Wells. His father was a bus company traffic manager. Wells was educated at the Kingston High School grammar school in Hull. Wells took a degree in English at University College, London. He was invalided out of national service for the RAF in 1951. He became a Hampshire school teacher before moving to Stratford to complete his PhD. He was awarded his PhD in English by Birmingham University in 1961.
Wells is co-editor (with Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery) of the Oxford Complete Works and (with Michael Dobson) the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, and has been general editor of the Oxford Shakespeare series since 1978. He edited several volumes for the New Penguin Shakespeare series. He is married to the writer Susan Hill, who reportedly separated from him in 2015.
On 20 October 2009 he appeared on BBC 4's comedy panel show It's Only a Theory – defending the prevailing opinion within contemporary Shakespeare studies that 'The plays of William Shakespeare were written by William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon' and debunking the theory that Shakespeare's plays were written by some of his contemporaries.
In June 2010, he was awarded the Sam Wanamaker Award by Shakespeare's Globe, an award given annually in the name of the Globe's founder Sam Wanamaker to celebrate work which has increased the understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare.
In 2013, together with Rev. Dr. Paul Edmondson, he called upon the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey to remove the question mark which appears in place of a date of death in the memorial window to Christopher Marlowe in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Wells is married to novelist Susan Hill, and the couple was once considered part of the “Gloucestershire mafia” set of well-connected writers and socialites. The couple separated in 2013 after nearly 40 years of marriage when Hill moved in with scriptwriter Barbara Machin, who at the time was adapting Hill's crime fiction for television.
He is the father of author Jessica Ruston and of Clemency Wells.
Wells was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2007 Birthday Honours for services to literature. He was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to scholarship.
- Re-Editing Shakespeare for the Modern Reader (1984)
- The Oxford Dictionary of Shakespeare (1998)
- Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism (2000)
- Shakespeare: The Poet and his Plays (2001)
- The Oxford Shakespeare: King Lear (2001)
- Shakespeare For All Time (2002)
- Shakespeare & Co. (2006)
- Shakespeare, Sex, and Love (2010)
- Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (editor with Paul Edmondson, 2013)
- Great Shakespearean Actors (2015)
- The Shakespeare Circle (editor, 2016)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- "WELLS, Prof. Stanley William", Who's Who 2012, A & C Black, 2012; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2011 ; online edn, Nov 2011 accessed 11 Sept 2012
- Reyburn, Ross. "The Saturday Interview: Professor Stanley Wells – He's a Dedicated Bard Brain of Britain" in The Birmingham Post (England), 23 November 2002.
- Kidd, Charles, ed. "Prof Stanley Wells, CBE Authorised Biography" Archived 8 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Debrett's People of Today.
- "Stanley Wells" at Contemporary Writers Archived 15 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- Sir Stanley Wells - Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website
- "Husband of The Woman in Black author Susan Hill exits, stage left". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
- Edmondson, Paul, and Stanley Wells, Shakespeare Bites Back (2011), Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, pp. 21–2, 38.
- Eden, Richard (8 December 2013). "Husband of The Woman in Black author Susan Hill exits, stage left". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- Kean, Danuta (4 March 2017). "Susan Hill: 'I am not pro-Trump! Really? Do people think that of me?'". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "No. 58358". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2007. p. 9.
- "No. 61608". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2016. p. B2.
- "British Academy announces 2016 prizes and medal winners". The British Academy. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
- Holden, Anthony. "All Wells End Well", review of Shakespeare For All Time. The Guardian, 1 December 2002.