Born 13 December 1937 in Cardiff, Great Britain. I was educated at St. Marylebone Grammar School, London, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where I took a double first in English and won both the Charles Oldham Shakespeare Scholarship and the Harness Prize. I was a Fellow and Director of Studies at Downing College and a University Lecturer in English. In 1972 I was appointed Professor (Ordinarius) at the University of Zürich, and in 1975 I moved to the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, where I also directed the Centre for Renaissance Studies. Subsequent to my retirement in 2003 I became a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. I am a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge, and an Honorary Visiting Professor at University College, London. In 2008 I was knighted for services to literary scholarship. I was awarded the Ph. D. and D. Litt. by Cambridge, an Honorary D. Lit. by London University, and an Honorary Ph. D. by the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.

I am a member of both the UK and the USA Societies for Renaissance Studies; the International Society for the History of Rhetoric (ISHR), and the Institute of English Studies (IES).


1948-57 St. Marylebone Grammar School
1957-59 National Service, Royal Artillery
1959-64 Trinity College, Cambridge

Academic Record

1961 English Tripos, Part I: First Class Honours
1962 English Tripos, Part II: First Class Honours
1962 Senior Scholarship, Trinity College, Cambridge
1967 Ph.D., Cambridge English Faculty
1996 Litt.D., Cambridge University


1964 Research Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge
1964 University Assistant Lecturer in English
1965 Fellow and Director of Studies in English, Downing College, Cambridge
1968 University Lecturer in English
  (re-appointed to retiring age: May 21, 1971)
1972-75 Professor (Ordinarius) of English Literature, University of Zürich
1975-2003 Professor (Ordinarius) of English and Renaissance Literature, ETH Zürich
1978 Appointed Professor of English, Harvard University
  (unable to take up appointment for family reasons)
1980-81 Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
1986-87 Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study)
2003 Distinguished Senior Fellow, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, and Senior Research fellow, Institute of English Studies

Administrative posts

1965-68 Cambridge University: English Faculty Librarian
1967-69 Downing College, Cambridge: Dean
1976-2003 ETH Zürich: Director, Centre for Renaissance Studies
1996-97 ETH Zürich: Chairman, Humanities Department


1961 Cambridge University Charles Oldham Shakespeare Scholarship
1965 Cambridge University Harness Shakespeare Prize
1974 Annual Shakespeare Lecture, Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft (West)
1976-89 Member of the Wolfenbütteler Arbeitskreis für Renaissanceforschung
1977-79 President of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric
1989 Awarded the Morris D. Forkosch Prize by the Journal of the History of Ideas for “the best book in intellectual history published in 1988: In Defence of Rhetoric
1992 Annual Shakespeare Lecture, British Academy
1996 Litt. D. Cambridge University
1998 Elected Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy
2003 Honorary Doctorate, Université de Fribourg (Suisse)
2004 Elected Chairman of the Society for Renaissance Studies
2007 Elected an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2008 Appointed Knight Bachelor for services to literary history
2008 Elected Honorary Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge
2009 Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of London
2014 Awarded the Beverly Rogers Literary Award by
The Ben Jonson Journal
2015 Sam Wanamaker Fellow, Shakespeare’s Globe, London
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