Welcome to the British Shakespeare Association

The British Shakespeare Association is a professional association of teachers, researchers, theatre practitioners, writers and enthusiasts. The BSA is a registered charity and its aims are educational – ‘to promote and foster a better understanding of Shakespeare and his work’. Read more about us »

The Honorary Fellowships scheme was set up by the Board of Trustees in 2011 to receive nominations for the prestigious title of Honorary Fellow of the British Shakespeare Association.

Each year, the Fellowships sub-committee expects to recommend annually the names of two eminent individuals who have made major contributions to one or more of the Association’s main constituencies of activities. The sub-committee, under the chairmanship of Andrew Jarvis, is responsible for selecting appropriate candidates and for recommending their names to the Board of Trustees. Fellows are honoured at special BSA events to which all members are invited.

The sub-committee is also responsible for advising the Board on its policy with regard to the principle of Fellowships and for reviewing and recommending appropriate criteria for selection. The sub-committee’s detailed deliberations are strictly confidential.

2012: Cicely Berry and John Joughin
2013: Terence Hawkes and Stanley Wells
2014: John Russell Brown and R A Foakes
2015: Dame Janet Suzman and Chris Grace
2016: Emeritus Professor Ann Thompson and Emeritus Director of the RSC John Barton

Fellows

Dame Judi Dench
Patron
Dame Judi Dench, Patron

Dame Judi Dench is an Oscar award-winning film, stage and television actor. Her Shakespearean screen roles include Mistress Quickly and Hecuba in Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V and Hamlet, as well as her lauded appearance as Queen Elizabeth I in John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love (1998). She is perhaps best known to wider audiences for her appearances as ‘M’ in seven James Bond films as well as the title roles of Iris, Mrs Brown and Mrs Henderson Presents. She was a regular member of the RSC ensemble throughout the 1970s and returned in recent years as the Countess in All’s Well that Ends Well (2003) and Mistress Quickly in Merry Wives: The Musical (2006). She was awarded an OBE in 1970 and DBE in 1988.

Cicely Berry
Honorary Fellow
Cicely Berry

Cicely Berry is Director of Voice at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where, for forty-five  years, she has played a vital role in forming and developing the company’s working practices.  She has had an equally important impact on education and has also made Shakespeare’s language  available beyond the theatre through, for example, her work in prisons and with the Brazillian company Nos de Morro. She has published five books which provide detailed  accounts of her ideas, techniques and practices. Her awards include several honorary doctorates, the Sam Wanamaker Award (2000) and the Samuel H. Scripps Award (2007). In 2009, she was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She was made an Honorary Fellow in 2011 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Shakespeare performance and education. An interview with Cicely is published in Teaching Shakespeare 1.

John Russell Brown
Honorary Fellow
John Russell Brown

Professor John Russell Brown, who died in August 2015,  was a distinguished academic, dramaturg and theatre director. He established one of the country’s first university Drama departments at Birmingham and later ran the scripts department at the National Theatre. He also brought Shakespeare to the wider public as a television presenter and children’s author. He was best known for his pioneering work on Shakespeare in performance. He became an Honorary Fellow in 2014 in recognition of his exemplary contribution to British Shakespeare.

R A Foakes
Honorary Fellow
R A Foakes

R. A. Foakes, who died in December 2013, was a critic, texual scholar, and theatre historian. His landmark edition of Henslowe’s Diary, co-edited with R. T. Rickert in 1961, was an essential work of scholarship surpassing the edition by W. W. Greg. Out of print by the turn of the century, copies fetched hundreds of pounds in the used-book market until Cambridge University Press reissued it in paperback in 2002. From his edition of Henry VIII for the Second Arden Shakespeare series in 1957 to King Lear for the Third Arden Shakespeare 40 years later, Foakes led a generation of post-war critics who combined theatrical and poetical sensibility with a forensic approach to documentary scholarship. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in 2013 for his outstanding contribution to British Shakespeare.

Terence Hawkes
Honorary Fellow
Terence Hawkes

Terence Hawkes, who died in January 2014, was a Shakespeare scholar of international renown. He is best known for his pioneering work in the fields of Literary Presentism (including That Shakespeherian Rag, 1986, and Shakespeare in the Present, 2002) and for his influence on Literary Theory following his seminal Structuralism and Semiotics (1977). His work on the Routledge New Accents series, the Alternative Shakespeares series, and founding of the journal Textual Practice are among his lasting contributions to English Studies. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in 2014 for his outstanding contribution to British Shakespeare and his instrumental role in establishing the BSA. A fuller tribute to Terence may be found here.

Stanley Wells
Honorary Fellow
Stanley Wells

Stanley Wells is Honorary President and Former Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Dame Janet Suzman
Honorary Fellow

Dame Janet Suzman is one of the most pioneering performers and directors of Shakespeare during the last 50 years. As an actor, she has infused her roles with powerful emotions provoking the audience into startlingly new appraisals of the play. Her achievements as a director have been extensive and had a major impact upon future productions; in particular, her path-breaking direction of the Market Theatre Othello (available on film) allowed audiences from around the globe to perceive how the play resonated with present-day politics. Moreover, Suzman has used her skills as both actor and director to produce books, such as Acting with Shakespeare and Not Hamlet, that have inspired a generation of scholars, directors, actors, teachers and students.

Chris Grace
Honorary Fellow

Chris Grace has made Shakespeare live for young people. In 2000 he founded the Shakespeare Schools Festival, which is the largest youth drama festival in the UK and offers the opportunity for young people of all abilities and from all backgrounds to engage with Shakespeare. In addition, as Director of Animation at S4C, he created the hugely influential Shakespeare – The Animated Tales, ensuring that generations of children, inside and outside school, had their interest in Shakespeare sparked by the beauty and imagination of these pioneering broadcasts. Indeed, it remains the most popular programme on BBC Education. Above all, Grace’s work has been instrumental in inspiring, and continuing to inspire, teachers and young people.

John Barton
Honorary Fellow

John Barton has been at the forefront of Shakespearean thinking and performance for over fifty years. When he joined Peter Hall as co-founder of the RSC, they began a journey which utterly transformed the theatre’s thinking on how Shakespearean verse should be spoken. After Peter Hall left the Company, John continued there as both an Associate Director and as its leader in the further teaching and understanding of that exploration. He is unique. He combines what no-one else of his generation has been able to achieve. The co-existence of scholarship with the understanding and practise of concrete theatrical release. So many, many Directors and actors have been transformed and transported by his passion and perception. He is undoubtedly one of the greats of Shakespearean theatre. His influence is unquantifiable.

Ann Thompson
Honorary Fellow

Ann Thompson has produced a wealth of pioneering work in making feminist approaches an essential dimension of Shakespeare studies in the academy. From her New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of The Taming of the Shrew (1984) to her work as a General Editor of Arden Shakespeare, she has not only provided a model of excellent editorial practice, but inspired many others, particularly women, to edit too. Professor Ann Thompson’s work on Shakespeare’s language represents a body of work that has informed academic researchers, teachers and performers. Professor Thompson’s enthusiasm for watching and learning from Shakespeare in performance, on stage and on film has led to an unwavering support for practitioners.

Honorary Associates

  • Stanley Wells
  • Paul Edmondson
  • Sir Patrick Stewart
  • David Tennant
  • Michael Bogdanov
  • Sir Trevor Nunn