Professor Russell Jackson MA (Oxon), MA, PhD (Birmingham)

Photograph of Professor Russell Jackson

Department of Drama and Theatre Arts
Emeritus Professor of Drama

Contact details

The Old Library (SOVAC)
998 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
B29 6LG

My work focuses on the relationships between text and performance - particularly but not exclusively of Shakespeare’s plays - in their social and intellectual context and in a wide range of media. I am currently engaged in studies of the representation of the theatre in the other arts.

My research is informed by (and informs) my work in professional theatre and film.


MA (Oxon), MA, PhD (Birmingham), FRSA


Russell is a native of Southport, Lancashire. After reading English at Wadham College, Oxford, where his tutors included Ian Donaldson and Terry Eagleton, Russell studied for the degrees of MA and PhD at the Shakespeare Institute, the University of Birmingham’s Stratford-based centre for graduate studies in Shakespeare and his contemporaries. He subsequently held posts at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama and in the Drama Department of the University College of North Wales, Bangor. From 1978 to 2004 he was a Fellow (and latterly, Director) of the Shakespeare Institute, before joining the Department of Drama and theatre Arts as Allardyce Nicoll chair in 2004.


Modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level on theatrical and dramatic history; study options on aspects of Shakespeare in performance and on the representation of theatres on film.

Postgraduate supervision

  • Dissertations and theses on theatre history and Shakespearean interpretation.

Find out more - our PhD Drama and Theatre Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.

Doctoral research

PhD title
'Pictorial Shakespeare, 1880-1890'


I have published on a wide range of topics - from Victorian fairy painting to Noël Coward.  Critical editions of plays by Henry Arthur Jones (CUP) and Oscar Wilde (New Mermaids Drama Series) in the early 1980s were followed by an anthology of documents of the Victorian theatre in 1989.  In 1999 the Society for Theatre Research published my translation of articles by the German novelist Theodor Fontane, under the title Shakespeare in London, 1851-58. With Jonathan Bate I edited The Oxford Illustrated History of Shakespeare on Stage (2nd edition, 2001) and I collaborated with Robert Smallwood on two volumes in the ‘Players of Shakespeare’ series for Cambridge University Press. I also edited the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film, (2000 - 2nd edition 2007), and a volume (XVI: Gielgud, Ashcroft, Olivier, Dench) in the ‘Great Shakespeareans’ series(Bloomsbury/Arden Shakespeare.

From 1994 to 2004 I reviewed Stratford productions for Shakespeare Quarterly, and my book on stagings of Romeo and Juliet appeared in the series ‘Shakespeare at Stratford,’ under the New Arden imprint (2003). A monograph, Shakespeare Films in the Making: Vision, Production and Reception appeared from Cambridge University Press in 2007.Theatres on Film: how the Cinema Imagines the Stage, was published in January 2013 by Manchester University Press, and Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema for the ‘Oxford Shakespeare Topics’ series (OUP) was published in October 2014. Current projects include a book on Trevor Nunn, for the Bloomsbury/Arden ‘Shakespeare in the Theatre.’

Other activities

Since the mid-1980s I have worked as text adviser with Kenneth Branagh on stage and radio productions, and on all his Shakespeare films, and also on films by Oliver Parker (Othello, An Ideal Husband) and John Madden (Shakespeare in Love). My diary of the filming of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet accompanies the published screenplay and a commentary by the double act of Branagh and Jackson accompanies the DVD release of the film. I have served on the boards of the Oxford Stage Company and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and as an honorary governor of the RSC. In 2006 I was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Bangor, for my contributions to the study of Shakespeare on Film.

Other theatre work has included collaboration with Michael Grandage, with whom I worked as text adviser on productions at the Crucible theatre, Sheffield and the Donmar Warehouse in London. Productions at the Donmar have included Othello (2008), the 2009 Donmar West End season (Twelfth Night with Derek Jacobi and Hamlet with Jude Law, which also played on Broadway), King Lear, with Derek Jacobi and Richard II at the Donmar (both 2011) and the Michael Grandage Company’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Henry V, both at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2013.  In July 2013 I was text consultant for Macbeth, directed by Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford in the Manchester International Festival: the production was revived and restaged for performances at the Park Avenue Armory in New York in May-June 2014. Recent work includes the Kenneth Branagh Company’s productions of The Winter’s Tale (2015-16) and Romeo and Juliet (2016) at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End.

From 1985 to 2004 I was an editor of Theatre Notebook, the journal of the Society for Theatre Research, and I remains on its advisory board. I am on the editorial boards of Shakespeare Survey, for which In have written a series of annual reviews of publications on Shakespeare in performance, and on the online journal Shakespeare.


  • Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema (Oxford Shakespeare Topics series, Oxford: OUP, 2014)
  • Theatres on Film: how the Cinema Imagines the Stage (Manchester: MUP, 2013)
  • Salus populi: Shakespeare’s Roman plebeians on screen,’ Shakespeare on Screen: the Roman Plays, ed. Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerin (Rouen and Le Havre: Publications des Universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2009) 71-98. 
  • ‘Henry Irving,’ in John Russell Brown, ed., The Routledge Companion to Directors’ Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 2008) 174-191.
  • ‘Maurice Evans’ Richard II on stage, television and – almost- film,’ Shakespeare Survey,   (2008)
  • ‘Elijah Moshinsky’s BBC TV All’s Well That Ends Well and the aura of art,’ in Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerin, eds. Television Shakespeare. Essays in Honour of Michèle Willems (Publications des Universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2008) 129-45
  • Shakespeare Films in the Making: Vision, Production and Reception (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • Ed., The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film (Cambridge University Press, 2000; revised 2nd. ed., 2007)
  • ‘”An Othello to forget”: Franco Zeffirelli’s Stratford Othello and its reputation,’ Shakespeare Bulletin 25/4 (2007) 11-21.
  • ‘Remembering Bergner’s Rosalind: As You Like It on film in 1936’ in  Peter Holland, ed., Shakespeare, Memory and Performance (CUP, 2006), pp.237-55
  • Introduction’ and ‘The Play in Performance’in revised edition of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in New Penguin Shakespeare (ed. Norman Sanders, 1968; revised ed. 2005)
  • Romeo and Juliet book coverShakespeare at Stratford: ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (New Arden series, Thomson Learning:  2003.)
  • Ed. (with Jonathan Bate) The Oxford Illustrated History of Shakespeare on Stage, (Oxford: Oxford University press, 2001)
  • Translated and edited, Theodor Fontane,  Shakespeare in London.  (Society for Theatre Research, London, 1999)

View all publications in research portal


Shakespeare in performance, specifically on film and TV; personal involvement since 1985 as an adviser in professional film, theatre and radio performances; Credits include Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare films and stage productions by Kenneth Branagh and Michael Grandage; History of theatre, specifically 19th century, and film; Oscar Wilde

Media experience

Radio and TV interviews, programme on Othello for OU; DVD commenatry for release of Kenneth Branagh's film of Hamlet; newspaper and magazine interviews and articles, etc.