Professor Sir Jonathan Bate: Mad About Shakespeare

Old Sennockian Professor Sir Jonathan Bate CBE (OS 1976) painted a gloriously intricate image of what Shakespeare means to him at his talk about his book Mad About Shakespeare – From Classroom to Theatre to Emergency Room. He told some fascinating stories of being a student in the 1970s and how the education he received helped him to develop the passion which led to his distinguished academic career, including being Senior Research Fellow at Oxford, Provost of Worcester College, Foundation Professor of Environmental Humanities at Arizona, and author of many books.

The school’s liberal, progressive and stimulating environment provided the basis for Professor Bate’s enthusiasm for academia. Additionally, the innovative, modern approaches the Drama department used to put on plays in which Professor Bate acted, such as a pared-down version of Macbeth, coupled with the emphasis on ‘doing Shakespeare’ rather than merely studying him in English classes, helped to stimulate his passion. He talked movingly – and, indeed, did good impressions – of a number of teachers who influenced him including the legendary Head of English John Adams – father of our current Head of English, Mrs Jane Henshaw.

The audience left the talk feeling enriched: not only did we have a new perspective on Sevenoaks School, but also a deeper appreciation for the power of literature in daily life.

Anna Tarasheva, Lower Sixth

< Back