Sir Jonathan Bate is Provost of Worcester College and Professor of English Literature at Oxford University. He is Vice-President of the British Academy, a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and was a 2014 judge for the Man Booker Prize. His biography of John Clare (a poet who was a key influence on Ted Hughes) was short-listed for seven literary prizes and won three of them, including Britain’s two oldest literary awards, the James Tait Black Prize for Biography and the Hawthornden Prize (which Hughes won for Lupercal). Soul of the Age, his intellectual biography of Shakespeare, was runner up for the Biography Prize of American PEN. He has also published on the influence of the classics (Shakespeare and Ovid), on Wordsworth (Romantic Ecology) and the poetry of nature (The Song of the Earth), and has worked in the theatre (Being Shakespeare: A One-Man Play for Simon Callow), all of which were Hughesian obsessions.
John Clare: A Biography (Picador)
John Clare (1793-1864) is the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self, but until now he has never been the subject of a comprehensive literary biography. Clare’s ringing voice – quick-witted, passionate, vulnerable, courageous – emerges in generous quotation from his letters, journals and autobiographical writings. Jonathan Bate, the celebrated scholar of Shakespeare, brings the complex man, his beloved work, and his ribald world vividly to life.