Professor Kiernan Ryan

Photograph of Professor Kiernan Ryan

Shakespeare Institute
Honorary Senior Research Fellow

Contact details

The Shakespeare Institute
Mason Croft
Church Street
CV37 6HP

The main aim of my work is to create ways of interpreting Shakespeare’s plays that reveal their revolutionary vision of his world and their power to transform our perception of our world.


  • BA (Cambridge)
  • MA (Cambridge)
  • PhD (Amsterdam)


Kiernan Ryan was educated at the University of Cambridge, winning a Scholarship to Christ’s College, where he took a First in English, and then moving to Corpus Christi College to teach and to undertake research on Renaissance literature. He was a lecturer at the University of Geneva and at Wadham College, Oxford before taking up the post of Fellow and Director of Studies in English at New Hall, Cambridge. He was awarded a doctorate by the Universiteit van Amsterdam in 1995. In 1997 he was appointed Professor of English Language & Literature and Head of Department at Royal Holloway, University of London; in the same year he was elected to an Emeritus Life Fellowship of New Hall (now Murray Edwards College). In 1999 he was made a Founding Fellow of the English Association. He became Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Royal Holloway in 2016. In 2017 the title of Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, was conferred on him by the University of Birmingham.


My most recent book is Shakespeare’s Universality: Here’s Fine Revolution, Arden Shakespeare (Bloomsbury, 2015).

My next book, which builds on the argument of Shakespeare’s Universality: Here’s Fine Revolution, is Shakespearean Tragedy, which will be published by Bloomsbury in 2018.

Other activities

Professor Ryan has been invited to lecture on Shakespeare, literary theory and modern British fiction by universities throughout Europe (Germany, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland), in Egypt, Mexico and the United States. In 2012 he delivered the inaugural annual Public Shakespeare Lecture sponsored by the Abbey Theatre and University College Dublin; in 2013 he delivered the F.W. Bateson Memorial Lecture at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and the annual Public Shakespeare Lecture at the University of Hull; and in 2016 he gave the Special Anniversary Public Shakespeare Lecture at the University of Durham. Professor Ryan’s broadcasting experience includes contributions to BBC Radio 4 arts programmes, the Open University/BBC series, Shakespeare: Text and Performance, for which he was the editorial consultant, and the commentary for the BBC's live broadcast of Measure for Measure from the Globe. He has written numerous programme articles for Globe Theatre productions. He has also written for The Guardian and been a regular book reviewer for the Independent on Sunday and the Times Higher Education Supplement. He is a member of the International Shakespeare Association and a member of the editorial board of Shakespeare: Journal of the British Shakespeare Association.