Jonathan Bate studied at Cambridge and Harvard universities. Well known as a biographer, critic, broadcaster and scholar, he is Foundation Professor of Environmental Humanities in Global Futures, the School of Sustainability and the College of Liberal Arts at Arizona State University. He is also a Senior Research Fellow of Worcester College Oxford, where he was Provost from 2011 to 2019, and he holds the title of Professor of English Literature in the University of Oxford. From 2017 to 2019, he was also Gresham Professor of Rhetoric, delivering six public lectures per year at Gresham College in the City of London.
He has wide-ranging research interests in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature, Romanticism, biography and life-writing, ecocriticism, contemporary poetry, visual culture and theatre history. He is a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, as well as an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Before moving to Oxford in 2011, he was a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, then King Alfred Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool, and then Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick. He has served on the Board of the Royal Shakespeare Company, broadcast for the BBC, written for the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and TLS, and has held visiting posts at Yale and UCLA. In 2006 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours for his services to higher education. He has been Vice-President (leading the Humanities) of the British Academy. In January 2015, he became the youngest person ever to have been knighted for services to literary scholarship.
His creative works include Being Shakespeare, a one-man play for Simon Callow, which toured nationally and played at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe prior to three West End runs, as well as transfers to New York, Chicago and Trieste; it was described by one critic as a “revelatory theatrical masterpiece”. He was consultant curator for the British Museum’s major Round Reading Room exhibition for the London 2012 Olympics Festival of Culture, which another reviewer hailed as “the best exhibition I have ever seen”.
He is married to the biographer and novelist Paula Byrne, and they have three children.