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Stanley William Wells, CBE, (born 21 May 1930) is a Shakespeare scholar and Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Wells took his first degree at University College, Londonmarker, and was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of Warwickmarker in 2008. He was Professor of Shakespeare Studies and Director of the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birminghammarker) from 1988-1997, and is now Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies.

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 is married to the writer Susan Hill.

In 2009, Wells revealed the existence of the Cobbe portrait. He stated his belief, based on three years of research, that the portrait is a true portrait of Shakespeare, painted from life.

On Tuesday 20th October 2009, he appeared on BBC 4's comedy panel show 'It's Only a Theory' -defending his theory that 'The plays of William Shakespeare were written by William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon' debunking the theory that Shakespeare's plays were written by some of his contemporaries. Andy Hamilton voted 'yes' as did Reginald D. Hunter, who said he voted yes because he did not want Wells to have a stroke. Guest broadcaster Kirsty Wark voted no. However, the theory was approved, and he was presented with 'My Shakespeare Years' by Jeffrey Archer by the show for taking part.

Major publications

  • 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)


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