David and Ben


David Crystal was born in 1941 and spent the early years of his life in Holyhead, North Wales. He went to St Mary’s College, Liverpool, and then University College London, where he read English, and obtained his Ph.D. in 1966. He became a lecturer in linguistics at University College, Bangor, and from 1965 to 1985 was at the University of Reading, where he became Professor of Linguistic Science. He's now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. In 1995 he was awarded the OBE for services to the English language, and he became a fellow of the British Academy in 2000.

He's published over a hundred books, including The Stories of English (2004) and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (3rd edn, 2018). Since 1997 he wrote a regular article on Shakespeare's innovative vocabulary for Around the Globe, the magazine of Shakespeare's Globe, and was Sam Wanamaker Fellow at the Globe in 2003. He's written several essays on Shakespeare's language, including introductions for the Wells & Taylor Complete Works (OUP 2005), Wells and Orlin's Shakespeare: an Oxford Guide (2003), and Bruce Smith's Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare (2016). Apart from Shakespeare's Words, his book-length publications are Think on my Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language (2008), and two collaborations with Ben: The Shakespeare Miscellany (2005) and The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary (2015).

In recent years David has become specifically associated with the movement to present Shakespeare in original pronunciation (OP). He was Master of Original Pronunciation at Shakespeare's Globe in 2004 for its production of Romeo and Juliet, and has since collaborated with theatre companies in several countries in OP productions of over a dozen Shakespeare plays, as well as works by Marlowe and Henslowe. The story of the first production is told in Pronouncing Shakespeare (2005, updated edition 2018), and the general approach is presented in The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation, with a linked audio file (2016). A complete list of his writing and fuller bio can be found on his website: www.davidcrystal.com


Ben Crystal is an actor, author, producer, and explorer is original practices of Shakespeare rehearsal and production. He read English and Linguistics at the University of Lancaster, then trained as an actor at Drama Studio in London. He perfomed the title role in the world contemporary premier of Hamlet in original pronunciation in 2011 (Nevada Repertory Company) and in 2012 was the curator and creative director for a CD of Shakespeare in Original Prounciation for the British Library. In 2011 he formed a company, Passion in Pratice, and led original practices explorations for the British Library, the British Council, and Shakespeare’s Globe (including Macbeth, Henry V, and Dr Faustus).

In 2016 he staged Pericles for the conductor Daniel Harding’s Interplay festival at Stockholm’s Berwaldhallen. Pericles: Recomposed was raised in three days, underscored by Max Richter’s Four Seasons: Recomposed, and played live by the Trondheim soloists, led by violinist Daniel Hope. The production was reprised at the Savannah Music Festival later in 2016.

Ben’s first solo book, Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard (2008) was runner-up for the 2010 Educational Writer of the Year Award, and went into a second edition in 2016. He wrote Springboard Shakespeare, a quartet series of introductions (Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night's Dream), for Arden Shakespeare/Bloomsbury (2013), and co-wrote with his father The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary (2015), also shortlisted for the 2016 Educational Writer of the Year Award. A TEDx talk in 2017 was called Original Practices: Shakespeare's Craft. He lives online at www.bencrystal.com.

Talks and visits

David and Ben regularly give talks about their work, both individually and together. For more information, go to the Contact page.

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