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John Vyvyan was born in Sussex, England, in 1908.

Being educated in Switzerland for most of his life, Vyvyan trained as an archaeologist before pursuing his career in the Middle East. Here, Vyvyan worked with Sir. Flinders Petrie, realising his disdain for the working environment and arduous field work as time went on. Retiring as an archaeologist, Vvyan became a Shakespearean scholar and chose to focus more on writing. As a result, Vyvyan’s most notable works include The Shakespearean Ethic, Shakespeare and Platonic Beauty and Shakespeare and the Rose of Love. Still, Vyvyan did also write books aside from this trilogy on Shakespeare. Two of Vyvyan’s other books The Dark Face and In Pity and in Anger: A Study of the Use of Animals in Science explore the origins of anti-vivisection activism. For instance, In Pity and in Anger: A Study of the Use of Animals in Science details the disputes between Anna Kingsford and Frances Power Cobbe, who were two significant 19th-century British activists.

Sadly, John Vyvyan died in Exmouth on the 12th February 1975. In recognition of his trilogy and contribution to Shakespearean scholarship, Vyvyan was offered a visiting lectureship at the State University of New York. Unfortunately, he was unable to take it up. Vyvyan’s work will be recognised for years to come, his work on Shakespeare providing new insight into the playwright’s works as well as the philosophies motivating his brilliant literature.


“The most vivid and easy to recall of the divine realities is beauty; and beauty, therefore, plays a special part in the re-awakening of the soul to heavenly things. Shakespeare demonstrates this when Romeo, on first seeing Juliet says: ‘For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’”
Watkins Magazine

“John Vyvyan’s books on the spiritual philosophy of Shakespeare aroused interest when they were first published in the early sixties … all who seek the true wisdom of Shakespeare will welcome this first republication of his trilogy for fifty years … [Vyvyan’s] scholarship and dogged research in opening the doors of the Christian-Platonic philosophy of the Renaissance and uncovering the vastness of Shakespeare’s spiritual universe pronounce him an intrepid pioneer in Shakespearean scholarship, whose work should now receive wider recognition.”
Jill Line, Temenos Academy Review

“Original and stimulating, Mr Vyvyan’s thesis is important and serious: serious in the sense that his reading of the plays and his supporting reading into Shakespeare’s climate of ideas is deep, connected and wide.”
Times Literary Supplement

“…more perceptive and convincing than a great deal that has ever been written on the subject ‘close and attentive scholarship ‘shrewd and ingenious observations.”
A.L. Rowse, Daily Telegraph

“Two important insights bind together the central argument of this book … Firstly, and most importantly, the author tells us that in Shakespeare “everything happens in the soul, and what he shows us on the stage … is the embodiment of these psychic events.”

“The second insight, though cultural and historical in background, is no less decisive; for Vyvyan, throughout the book, traces Shakespeare’s debt to medieval theatre, and in particular the latter’s use of allegorical devices to convey spiritual truths.

“Once these two basic tenets are properly understood, the ethical pattern within Shakespeare’s plays begins to appear, and Vyvyan draws it out in a clear and insightful manner through an analysis of passages from several key plays …

“a volume which for its breadth, clarity, depth and insight stands out as a truly masterful study of Shakespeare.”
Valentin Gerlier, Temenos Academy Review