Born on the 7th June 1943 in Cambridge to a Scottish mother and a Welsh father, Michael Pennington grew up in St. John’s Wood, London. During the time he was reading English at Cambridge (1961-1964) he continually appeared with the National Youth Theatre and all University Dramatic Societies. It was here that he was to first play Hamlet in 1964 and also Troilus. Joining the RSC from University he played small parts in ‘The Wars of the Roses’ cycle (‘Henry VI’, ‘Edward IV’ and ‘Richard III’) His first ‘named’ parts being Mathias in Marlowe’s ‘The Jew of Malta’, Fortinbras in ‘Hamlet’, Titus in ‘Timon of Athens’ (little knowing that he would be the next actor to play the title role on the main Stratford stage!) and Dumaine in ‘Love’s Labours Lost’.

With regard to published work, perhaps the first appeared (if I’m wrong about this, let me know!) in Granta on the 9th November 1963. Entitled Pinter Now, and Then, Michael referred to the article in his contribution to The Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter which was published in 2001. Click here to read the Granta essay.

I have compiled a list of Shakespeare-related productions in which Michael has appeared.


There have been several articles which do not relate to a particular area of work. They are primarily about his likes, dislikes,opinions and memories of people he has worked with. So I shall list them below with the relevant links:

20 Questions with Michael Pennington which appeared on the Whatsonstage web site;

As He Likes It, The Lady 1st-7th January 2002;

My beautiful carbuncle, letter to The Guardian 16th January 2002;

If you ask me..., The Guardian 27th April 2003;

The kingmakers, The Guardian 21st May 2005;

The great ventriloquist, Richard II programme, Old Vic 2005

The death of kings, The Guardian 15th March 2008

Harold Pinter:  An obituary, The Independent 26th December 2008

Michael Pennington on Nicol Williamson, The Guardian 29th January 2012

Pieces of Me, Sinfini Music, 20th May 2013

Michael Pennington on perfect spots for time wasting, The Daily Telegraph, 5th June 2013

The Graving Tool: Michael Pennington in conversation with Philip Franks.

Eugene Onegin. Barbican Events brochure, February 2015

The Independent, 16th January 2015

Michael Pennington & Dame Judi Dench, The Independent 18th January 2015

What book? Daily Mail 5th February 2015 what’s the secret to actors’ memory skills? The Independent, 31st July 2015

In pursuit to Shakespeare, TLS, 20th April 2016

Remembering RSC founder John Barton, Stratford-upon-Avon Herald 25th January 2018

In connection with Shakespeare the Royal Shakespeare company issued a press release on 3rd March 2008 launching a new manifesto for Shakespeare in schools. The Guardian newspaper asked Michael to respond and you can read this here.  


On the 23rd April 2004 Michael gave the Shakespeare Lecture at the British Academy in London. Since its inception in 1910 this is the first time an actor has been asked to give this Lecture!! Click here for an abstract. You can download the whole lecture from the British Academy’s web site (at a charge). The web site is

Michael gave the Gresham Lecture at the Museum of London on the 6th November 2018. It can be viewed at:


On the 22nd February 2005 year Michael (as part of a panel from the West Yorkshire Playhouse) gave evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons on public subsidy for British Theatre. The Report was published on the 15th March 2005. You can find a summary on The British Theatre Guide web site: and also read the full report on the Government web site:  I haven’t checked through the whole report, but have found Michael quoted in the section headed  ‘Supporting theatre’ sub-section ‘ The Case for subsidy’.


At the  Opening Night Party for Richard II at Stratford on the 17th October 2013 Greg Doran made Michael his first Honorary Associate Artist. Click here for the article.

Michael has also received Honorary Doctorates at de Montfort University and the University of East Anglia.