Tom Shakespeare

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For the Australian politician, see Thomas Shakespeare (politician).
Shakespeare giving a speech at De Montfort University in 2017

Sir Thomas William Shakespeare, 3rd Baronet (born 11 May 1966), better known as Tom Shakespeare, is an English sociologist and broadcaster. He has achondroplasia and uses a wheelchair.

Early life[edit]

Radley College

A member of the Shakespeare family, his grandfather, Sir Geoffrey Shakespeare, was made a baronet following long service as a Member of Parliament and in various senior government roles. Tom was educated at Radley College, Oxfordshire, taking A-levels in English, History, and History of Art; and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1984 to read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.[1] He gained a MPhil degree from King's College, Cambridge, in 1991.


Shakespeare then lectured in sociology at the University of Sunderland from 1993 and returned to King's College in 1995 to obtain his PhD degree. His father died in 1996 and Shakespeare inherited his baronetcy, but does not use the title. He is also a campaigner for disability rights, a writer on disability, genetics and bio-ethics and was the co-author of The Sexual Politics of Disability (1996; ISBN 0-304-33329-8).

He studied political science at Cambridge University. As a radical student, he supported liberation movements such as feminism, anti-racism and lesbian and gay rights. During his MPhil, he wrote a book about the politics of disability. He also wrote the book Disability Rights and Wrongs published by Routledge in 2006 and edited Arguing About Disability published in 2009 by Routledge.

He has worked as a research fellow at both Newcastle University and Leeds University, and has worked for the World Health Organization in Geneva. He served as a member of the Arts Council of England between 2003 and 2008. He is currently a senior lecturer in the medical faculty at the University of East Anglia. He has presented programmes on BBC Radio 4, including A Point of View.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Shakespeare was a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 2009.[3]

While still a student, he was featured in a television documentary by Lord Snowdon connected to his 1976 report 'Integrating the Disabled' about his restricted growth, along with his father, Sir William Geoffrey Shakespeare, a prominent medical practitioner.[4]

Shakespeare has a son, Robert, and daughter, Ivy; having been married to dancer and disability rights campaigner Caroline Bowditch in 2002.[5] As of 2010 he lived in Geneva with his partner, Alana.[6]

In 2016, he featured on the ITV show 500 Questions winning £14,000 by answering 42 out of 50 questions. He received a standing ovation for his efforts.[7]


  1. ^ 'Tom Shakespeare: Academic', in Mary Wilkinson, Defying Disability: The Lives and Legacies of Nine Disabled Leaders (London: Kingsley, 2009), pp. 79-98 (at p. 83).
  2. ^ "Parliament Roadshow". A Point of View. BBC. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Science and Religion: Making Meaning, Conference of Sea of Faith Network (UK), July 2009
  4. ^ Defying Disability: The Lives and Legacies of Nine Disabled Leaders, Mary Wilkinson, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009, pg 83
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Geoffrey Shakespeare
(of Lakenham)
Succeeded by
(current incumbent)