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The University of Birmingham and Phoenix Publishing & Media Group today signed a new agreement to broaden the appeal of William Shakespeare in China.

Phoenix Publishing & Media Group will work with experts at the University’s world-renowned Shakespeare Institute, in Stratford-upon-Avon, to increase access to and understanding of Shakespeare – setting up a new centre in China dedicated to Shakespeare and his works.

The partnership, which also involves experts at Nanjing University, will also create a 'Birmingham Lecture' series - introductory materials in subjects where the University is recognised for its expertise, such as stem cell biology, energy storage, and gravitational waves. This will provide useful reference tools for students looking to improve their understanding of study areas.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood and Chairman of the Board of Phoenix Publishing & Media Group Mr Zhang Jiankang signed the agreement in a special ceremony in Nanjing.

Professor Sir David Eastwood said: “We are delighted to enter into partnership with Phoenix Publishing & Media Group, which is a natural partner for the University of Birmingham. They are a hugely respected organisation, publishing a vast range of literature and research materials to audiences across China.

“The University of Birmingham is renowned for its expertise in English literature, particularly around the life and works of William Shakespeare, and globally acclaimed for its Shakespeare Institute, in Stratford-upon-Avon. We are excited about working with Phoenix Publishing & Media Group and Nanjing University to give Chinese people greater access to Shakespeare, whilst developing new publishing opportunities that will benefit students across China.”

Phoenix Publishing & Media Group are helping us bring our work on Shakespeare to a wide range of audiences in China #MEChina

Mr Zhang Jiankang said: “Phoenix Publishing & Media Group is the strongest publishing conglomerate of its kind in China, always aiming at achieving the best quality for its publications. We look forward to working with the University of Birmingham and Nanjing University.

“Let us make Shakespeare Centre China the most innovative and most influential publishing and research platform on Shakespeare; and let us make the ‘Birmingham Lectures’ a top example for popular science education and co-publishing across national borders.”

Phoenix Publishing & Media Group is one of the largest media and publishing companies in China - and a leader in publishing works on Shakespeare. The partnership with the University of Birmingham follows discussions in Nanjing earlier this year and a visit to Birmingham by representatives of the media company in July, when they visited the Shakespeare Institute.

Director of the Shakespeare Institute Professor Michael Dobson said: “A huge expansion of interest in the study and performance of the plays in China has been one of the most positive developments in Shakespeare’s world-wide reception in the twenty-first century.

“As the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death draws to a close, the team in Stratford is very excited about working with Phoenix Publishing & Media Group. We believe that their publishing expertise will help us to extend the Shakespeare Institute's reach in China, bringing the delights of Shakespeare to an even wider audience.”

The Shakespeare Institute co-hosted this summer’s World Shakespeare Congress in Stratford-upon-Avon – a global celebration of Shakespeare’s memory and the global cultural legacy of his works.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The history of collaboration between China and the University of Birmingham dates back almost to the foundation of the University in 1901.
  • Phoenix Publishing & Media Group was established in September 2001. It publishes, prints and distributes books, periodicals, newspapers, electronic and audio-visual products. Phoenix is now one of the most influential large-scale Chinese publishing and media groups.

For more information or interviews, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312