Sir Stanley William Wells CBE (born 21 May 1930) is a Shakespearean scholar, writer, professor and editor who has been honorary president of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, professor emeritus at the University of Birmingham, and author of a number of books about Shakespeare, including Shakespeare Sex and Love, and is general editor of the Oxford and Penguin Shakespeares. He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon and was educated in English at University College, London.
Wells was born in Hull, the son of Stanley Cecil Wells MBE and Doris Wells. His father was a bus company traffic manager. Wells was educated at the Kingston High School grammar school in Hull. Wells took a degree in English at University College, London. He was invalided out of national service for the RAF in 1951. He became a Hampshire school teacher before moving to Stratford to complete his PhD. He was awarded his PhD in English by Birmingham University in 1961.
Wells was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of Warwick in 2008. He was Professor of Shakespeare Studies and director of the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham) 1988–1997, and is now emeritus professor of Shakespeare Studies.
Wells is co-editor (with Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery) of the Oxford Complete Works and (with Michael Dobson) the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, and has been general editor of the Oxford Shakespeare series since 1978. He is married to the writer Susan Hill, who reportedly separated from him in 2015.
Wells was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2007 Birthday Honours for services to literature.
In 2009, Wells revealed the existence of the Cobbe portrait. He stated his belief, based on three years of research, that the portrait is a true portrait of Shakespeare, painted from life.
On 20 October 2009 he appeared on BBC 4's comedy panel show It's Only a Theory - defending the prevailing opinion within contemporary Shakespeare studies that 'The plays of William Shakespeare were written by William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon' and debunking the theory that Shakespeare's plays were written by some of his contemporaries.
In June 2010, he was awarded the Sam Wanamaker Award by Shakespeare's Globe, an award given annually in the name of the Globe's founder Sam Wanamaker to celebrate work which has increased the understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare.
In 2013, together with Rev. Dr. Paul Edmondson, he called upon the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey to remove the question mark which appears in place of a date of death in the memorial window to Christopher Marlowe in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Wells was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to scholarship.
He is the father of author Jessica Ruston.
- Re-Editing Shakespeare for the Modern Reader (1984)
- The Oxford Dictionary of Shakespeare (1998)
- Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism (2000)
- Shakespeare: The Poet and his Plays (2001)
- The Oxford Shakespeare: King Lear (2001)
- Shakespeare For All Time (2002)
- Shakespeare & Co. (2006)
- Shakespeare, Sex, and Love (2010)
- Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (editor with Paul Edmondson, 2013)
- Great Shakespearean Actors (2015)
- The Shakespeare Circle (editor, 2016)
- Holden, Anthony. "All Wells End Well", review of Shakespeare For All Time. The Guardian, 1 December 2002.