Professor Tiffany Stern, FBA

Professor Tiffany Stern, FBA

Shakespeare Institute
Professor of Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama
Deputy Director of Institute: Research

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My work combines literary criticism, theatre and book history and editing from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. I’m fascinated by the theatrical contexts that brought about plays by Shakespeare and others; several of my books and articles are on the theatrical documents put together by authors and theatrical personnel in the process of writing and learning a play: actors’ parts (the documents consisting of cues and speeches from which actors learned their roles), prologues, epilogues, songs, letters, arguments, backstage plots, plot scenarios and other separate stage documents. As General Editor of the New Mermaids play series, and Arden Shakespeare 4, I’m also interested in the way plays were manifested in manuscript and print, and in how to rethink editing for the digital age. My current projects are a book on early modern theatre and popular entertainment, Playing Fair, exploring the cultural exchanges between playhouses and fairgrounds, a book on Shakespeare Beyond Performance, looking at the theatrical documents produced in the light of a play’s performance – ballads, chapbooks, commonplace books, ‘noted’ texts – and an edition of Shakespeare’s Tempest.


  • BA (Oxford, 1990)
  • MA (Oxford, 1994)
  • MPhil (Cambridge, 1993)
  • PhD (Cambridge, 1997)
  • Fellow of the British Academy


My first degree, in English, is from Oxford (Merton College); my MPhil and PhD are from Cambridge (Emmanuel College). Most of my academic career has been at the University of Oxford, where I was a Junior Research Fellow (Merton College, 1997-2000), the Beaverbrook and Bouverie Fellow and Tutor in English (University College, 2005-16) and Professor of Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama (2008-17). I have also had jobs at Oxford Brookes, Oxford (2000-5); and Royal Holloway, University of London (2016-17). I took up my current post as Professorial Fellow in Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama at The Shakespeare Institute in 2017.

I have had grants from the British Academy and Research Leave and Innovation awards from the AHRB (now AHRC), have won the Barbara Palmer/Martin Stevens award for Best new Essay in Early Drama Studies and have twice won the David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies.

Because I have written on the practical side of early modern performance, my work is often used by theatre companies interested in putting on ‘O.P.’ (‘original practice’) productions. At the Blackfriars Playhouse, a reconstructed Shakespearean theatre in Staunton, Virginia, actors of the American Shakespeare Company have a three month ‘Renaissance Season’ in which performances are mounted from actors’ parts without a director, which stems from my research on rehearsal. The New American Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, the Grassroots Shakespeare Co in Utah, USA, and the Queen’s Men Players in Toronto, Canada, have all used my work. With Hidden Room Theater Company, Austin, Texas, I collaborated on an eighteenth century puppet version of Hamlet, based on the German play Der Bestrafte Brudermord; and a production of Nahum Tate’s Restoration adaptation of King Lear, using costumes and gesture of the period. I have given talks at the Globe and National Theatre, and written programme notes for both, and am a member of the Globe’s Architectural Research Group.

A keen public speaker, I gave the British Academy Shakespeare Lecture for the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth (Sam Wanamaker Theatre, 2014); and the ‘Annual Birthday Lecture’ for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, USA (2016). For ‘Shakespeare 400’ (the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death), I gave over 40 public lectures including university papers in England, USA, Germany; conference papers in England and USA; addresses to schools; ‘public engagement’ talks at museums, festivals and bookshops; and the Oxford University sermon. In addition to giving annual invited and plenary talks at a range of international universities in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan and China, I have held visiting professorships in the USA, New Zealand, and Australia. I was elected Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2019.

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised doctorates on the publishers of Shakespeare’s first folio, Carolean stage warfare, Jonson in parts, eighteenth century Shakespeare editors, Coronation literature, warrior women, English translations of Moliere, and commonplace books amongst others. I welcome enquiries from graduate students on these, any of the subjects outlined above, and related 16-18th century topics.

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


Shakespeare in his time - Tiffany Stern

My work mingles literary criticism, editing, theatre history and book history. I specialise in the dramas of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, particularly Jonson, Brome, Middleton and Nashe, but also write on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century playwrights and editors, including Wycherley, Farquhar, Sheridan, Theobald and Johnson.

My monographs are Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), Making Shakespeare (New York and London: Routledge, 2004), [with Simon Palfrey] Shakespeare in Parts (Oxford: OUP, 2007; winner of the 2009 David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies) and Documents of Early Modern Performance (Cambridge: CUP, 2009; winner of the 2010 David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies). I have co-edited a collection of essays with Farah Karim-Cooper, Shakespeare’s Theatres and the Effects of Performance (2013); my range of specialisation is reflected in over fifty articles, chapters and notes: on Barnes, Farquhar, Jonson, Middleton, Nashe, Shakespeare (in his time and later), Wycherley, Theobald, Malone, Johnson, Garrick, Stanislavski, Advertising, Architecture, Bibliography, Book History, Book-sellers, the Blackfriars Playhouse, Close-Reading, the Curtain Playhouse, Dumb Shows, Editing, Eighteenth Century Editors, Finance, Forgery, German Shakespeare Translations, the Globe Playhouse, Music, Note-Taking, Puppets, Satire, Sermons, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century Drama, Songs, Stage-Directions, the Stationers’ Registers, Theatre History, Time-Keeping, Tragedy and Trumpets.

As text and performance are, for me, closely linked, I have long been an editor, and have edited a range of sixteenth- to eighteenth-century plays: the anonymous King Leir for Globe Quartos (2003), Richard Sheridan’s The Rivals for New Mermaids (2004), George Farquhar’s Recruiting Officer for New Mermaids (2010), William Congreve’s Country Wife (2014, intro only), Richard Brome’s A Jovial Crew for Arden Early Modern Drama (2014). I am General Editor of the New Mermaids play series, with William C. Carroll; and General Editor, with Peter Holland and Zachary Lesser, of the next complete Arden Shakespeare series (Arden Shakespeare 4). 


Recent publications


Stern, T, greenblatt, S, Crawford, J & Maus, K (eds) 2024, Norton Anthology of English Literature: the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. vol. B, 11 edn, Norton.

Stern, T 2023, Shakespeare, Malone and the Problems of Chronology. Elements in Shakespeare and Text, Cambridge University Press.

Stern, T (ed.) 2019, Rethinking Theatrical Documents in Shakespeare's England. 1st edn, Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, London.


Stern, T 2023, 'Spaces of Performance: Shakespeare’s Playhouse Inside Out', Anuario calderoniano, vol. 16, pp. 21–40. <>

Stern, T 2022, 'Ballads and Product Placement in the Time of Shakespeare', Essays in Criticism, vol. 72, no. 3, pp. 269-299.

Stern, T 2021, 'Performing genre: tragic staging, tragic walking and tragic speaking', actes des congrès de la Société Française Shakespeare , vol. 39, 5904.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Stern, T 2024, First Folio Blunders in Picture, Poems and Plays. in M Bauer & A Zirker (eds), Shakespeare’s First Folio 1623-2023: Text and Afterlives . 1 edn, Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare.

Stern, T 2024, Taking a Bow. in E Whipday (ed.), Shakespeare/Play: Contemporary Readings in Playing, Playmaking and Performance. 1st edn, Arden Shakespeare Intersections, Bloomsbury Publishing.

Stern, T 2021, Bath and Bladud: the progress of a wayward myth. in S Chiari & S Cuisinier-Delorme (eds), Spa Culture and Literature in England, 1500-1800. 1 edn, Early Modern Literature in History (EMLH), Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 89-116.


Stern, T 2021, 'Theatre' and 'play+house': naming spaces in the time of Shakespeare. in S Smith & E Whipday (eds), Playing and Playgoing in Early Modern England: Actor, Audience and Performance. Cambridge University Press, pp. 186-204.

Stern, T 2019, 'Blackfriars Now and Then'. in P Menzer (ed.), Shakespeare in the Light. Fairleigh Dickinson UP.

Stern, T 2019, Introduction. in Much Ado About Nothing. Pan Macmillan.

Stern, T 2019, Stage directions. in D Duncan & A Smyth (eds), Book Parts. Oxford University Press, pp. 179-189.

Stern, T 2018, 'Ev'ry man must play a part': actors' parts and the Merchant of Venice'. in F Cotticelli & R Puggioni (eds), Filologia, Teatro, Spettacolo: dai greci alla contemporaneità. Metodi e prospettive. Studi di linguistica, filologia, letteratura, vol. 22, Franco Angeli, Milan, pp. 140-151.

Other contribution

Stern, T 2019, ‘Richard through the Looking Glass’. Headlong Theatre.

View all publications in research portal