Walton, J. Michael 1939-

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Walton, J. Michael 1939-

(John Michael Walton)

PERSONAL: Born May 10, 1939, in Newcastle on Tyne, England; son of Henry John (a canon of the Church of England) and Ada Griffith (a homemaker) Walton; married Susan Kathleen Hodge (a history teacher), July 29, 1967; children: Alice Louisa, Benjamin Toby, Mark Edwin. Ethnicity: “Caucasian.” Education: University of St. Andrews, M.A., 1962; University of Bristol, postgraduate certificate in drama, 1963; University of Hull, Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Walking, cricket, music.

ADDRESSES: Home—Hull, England. E-mail—j.m [email protected].

CAREER: Professional actor and theatrical director, 1963-65; University of Hull, Hull, England, assistant lecturer, 1965-68, lecturer, 1968-80, senior lecturer and reader, 1980-96, professor of drama, 1992-2003, professor emeritus, 2003—, department head 1990-96, founder and director of Performance Translation Centre, 1998-2003. University of Denver, visiting professor, 1972-73. Rose Bruford College, member of board of governors, 1984-90; Arts Council of Great Britain, drama assessor, 1988-99; Higher Education Funding Council, RAE Panel, 1995-96, vice chair of RAE Exercise, 1999-2001;

DESMI, member of board of management, 1999—; Onassis Theatre Competition, jury, 2000-01, 2005-06; consultant to J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994-2002.

MEMBER: International Federation for Theatre Research, British Actors’ Equity Association, Society for Theatre Research.

AWARDS, HONORS: Getty scholar, 2002; Leverhulme fellow, 2003-04.


Greek Theatre Practice, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1980.

(Editor) Craig on Theatre, Methuen (New York, NY), 1983, 2nd edition, 1999.

The Greek Sense of Theatre: Tragedy Reviewed, Methuen (New York, NY), 1984.

Living Greek Theatre: A Handbook of Classical Performance and Modern Production, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1987.

(With Peter D. Arnott) Menander and the Making of Comedy, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.

(Editor, with Marianne McDonald) Amid Our Troubles: Irish Versions of Greek Tragedy, Methuen (London, England), 2002.

Found in Translation: Greek Drama in English, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 2006.

(Editor, with Marianne McDonald) The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theatre, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2007. Work represented in anthologies. Contributor to theater journals and newspapers, including Arion, Proceedings of the European Cultural Centre at Delphi, Times Higher, and Theatre Research International.


The Female of the Species (one-act), first produced in Bristol, England, at Arnolfini Gallery, 1963.

H.U.A.C. and the Theatre (documentary), first produced in Hull, England, at Gulbenkian Centre, 1978.

Goldilocks (one-act), first produced in Hull, England, at Gulbenkian Centre, 1979.

The Parasite (two-act), first produced in Hull, England, at Gulbenkian Centre, 1981.

Medea Complex, first produced in Delphi, Greece, at Sikelianos House, 2000.

Translator of more than a dozen classical translations from Greek and Latin, several with Marianne McDonald. General editor, contributor of translations, and author of introductions to the series “Methuen Classical Greek Dramatists,” Methuen, 1987-2002.

SIDELIGHTS: J. Michael Walton once told CA: “For many years I was involved with promoting drama as a proper academic discipline in a British university. I directed plays and taught directing as well as specific areas of theater history. With a first degree in classics and experience thereafter in professional theater, my principal research is in applying a practitioner’s understanding to questions about the theater of classical Athens. The Greeks created the ‘language’ of theater on which all later playwrights built, but which they have never superseded.”

Later, he added: “I took a first degree in classics before entering the professional theater as an actor and director. Professional work became freelance and sporadic when I joined the recently created Department of Drama at the University of Hull in East Yorkshire, at a time when the study of drama as an academic and a practical discipline was still in its infancy in the United Kingdom. Writing as the product of research was expected of all staff members, but within a working drama department the drama criticism, adaptation, writing up, and evaluation of teaching materials were all part of the daily teaching process. Here, if anywhere, I learned the need for clarity and conciseness.

“My early performed but unpublished work included plays for stage, radio, and television, alongside a number of pieces of short fiction. Apart from a number of academic articles on aspects of Greek and Russian theater, and review journalism for newspapers and the British Broadcasting Corporation, I produced no serious body of written work until 1980 and the publication of Greek Theatre Practice. Three further academic books of substance, two on Greek theater, one on the work of Edward Gordon Craig, were published between 1983 and 1987, when I began work on a project for Methuen to provide what was at the time, apart from the literal Loeb editions, the only complete series of all forty-six surviving Greek plays in translation in England. All were intended as faithful versions of the original, but aimed at production on the modern stage. Eight translators in all were used, but by far the majority of the translations were by the late Kenneth McLeish, who died just after the completion of the final volume of Euripides. I edited the translations, provided eight myself, and wrote extended introductions to each volume. The series was finally finished, and my own translations have been performed widely in America and in Great Britain.

“In 1990 I was invited to complete the book on Menander on which Peter Arnott had been working at the time of his death. Menander and the Making of Comedy was published in 1996. Since then time I have published numbers of conference papers, several of which were concerned with translation, an interest which has continued to grow with the creation of the Performance Translation Centre, of which I was the first director. Another book, Found in Translation: Greek Drama in English, is a historical survey of the translation of Greek drama, and includes, as well as analysis of certain plays, a list of all English-language translations from 1555 to 2006.

“My aim in all my writing, however academic, has been to be accessible to the informed general reader, as well as to the specialist. Engaging and holding the interest should be as important in a work of scholarship as in a novel or a play. To this end I see publication as a natural outcome of teaching—and translation as a natural outcome of directing in the theater. I enjoy working cooperatively, and a new and fruitful collaboration with Marianne McDonald has so far resulted in several publications.”



Arion, winter , 2008, review of Found in Translation: Greek Drama in English.

Book News, June 1, 1996, review of Menander and the Making of Comedy.

New Theatre Quarterly, October, 2007, review of Found in Translation, p. 278-280.