John H. Astington

Professor Emeritus
805 JHB Cross Appointments


Graduate (PhD 1974) and former Director (2001-07) of the Centre. U of T career 1971-2016. Actor and director in university theatre.


English drama and theatre 1400-1700, English-language drama and theatre since 1945. Anglo-European cultural contact, 1500-1700. Relationships among visual arts, theatre, and literature. 


Stage and Picture in the English Renaissance: The Mirror up to Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2017, & online)

"Astington's compassionate and perceptive analysis of the deep pleasures and intricacies of the visual, both embodied and imagined, is a powerful and brilliant testimony to the vibrancy of the theatre and its imaginative legacies. . . . This is a wonderful book which brings together many of the most fruitful and important currents in literary criticism of the period." Charlotte Scott, Shakespeare Survey, 2018.

Actors and Acting in Shakespeare’s Time: The Art of Stage Playing (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010 [& pb]; online 2012)

" . . .an incredibly detailed and readable book on the complexities of early modern acting." Katherine Scheil, Theatre Survey, 2012.

English Court Theatre, 1558-1642 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999; pb 2006)

"Shamefully late, I’m for the first time reading your English Court Theatre cover to cover.  What a magnificent achievement it is!  So lucid and fascinating. I think it’s the best single work of theatre history I have read." Professor Bart van Es, University of Oxford. Personal communication, 2019.

The Development of Shakespeare’s Theater, ed. (New York: AMS, 1992)

Recent Publications

"The Jacobean Banqueting House as a Performance Space," Performances at Court in the Age of Shakespeare, ed. Sophie Chiari and John Mucciolo (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019, & online)

"William Vincent and his Performance Troupe, 1619-49," Renaissance Drama46 (2018)

"Trade, Taverns, and Touring Players in Seventeenth-Century Bristol," Theatre Notebook, 71 (2017)

"Quaking Custards: Flying in the Face of Comic Tradition," Gatherings, 1 (2017)

“Audiences and Playgoing,” The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, ed. Bruce Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2016, & online)

“His Theatre Friends: The Burbages,” The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography, ed. Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015, & online)

“Pastoral Imagery in The Merchant of Venice,” Word & Image, 31 (2015), & online

“Lumpers and Splitters,” Lost Plays in Shakespeare’s England, ed. David McInnis and Matthew Steggle (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, & online)

“An Afterpiece and its Afterlife: a Jacobean Jig,” English Literary Renaissance, 44 (2014)

“Why the Theatres Changed,” Moving Shakespeare Indoors: Performance and Repertoire in the Jacobean Playhouse, ed. Andrew Gurr and Farah Karim-Cooper (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2014, & online)

Book reviews in Shakespeare Quarterly, Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme, Review of English Studies, Early Theatre


PhD, University of Toronto
MA, McMaster University
BA, University of Leeds