21 May 2020 is the 90th birthday of Sir Stanley Wells, without a doubt the greatest living Shakespearean scholar. There can be few people who have not encountered his work, as a writer, lecturer, teacher, editor or mentor. I wrote a post about him back in 2016 when he was awarded his richly-deserved knighthood.
Just reaching 90 is quite an achievement, but he is still active in the field of Shakespeare studies. In his career he has considered Shakespeare from every point of view: the performance of his plays, his poetry, his life, and the world in which he lived. He’s been working with Shakespeare for considerably more years than the playwright was alive, and knows him inside out. He was planning to present a series of four lectures to try to answer the question “What was Shakespeare really like?”. But in the current circumstances this has been impossible so they have been recorded and are now available through the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s website. As well as being able to hear them being delivered by Professor Wells, and introduced by a range of distinguished Shakespeareans, a transcript is also provided.
Whatever his plans were for his big birthday, it’s almost certain that it will be a quieter day than he hoped. But there are certain to be many people raising a glass to him and wishing him many more years to come. Happy Birthday Sir Stanley Wells!