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In Tribute to a True Shakespearian: Jerzy Limon

Paying tribute to Professor Jerzy Limon O.B.E., Founder of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre

Paul Edmondson

We are saddened to learn of the death from Covid of the visionary Shakespearian Professor Jerzy Limon O.B.E. (1950-2021): theatre historian, translator, and Artistic Director of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Festival (from 1993). In 1990 he founded and began to make possible the building of the extraordinary Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre. It was a struggle, but he kept going, and attracted the patronage of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. The theatre opened in 2014, the first new theatre in Poland for 40 years.

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Professor Jerzy Limon O.B.E. receiving the Pragnell Prize in 2019, with Charlie Pragnell (left) and Professor Michael Dobson (right).

Jerzy Limon’s many publications include Gentlemen of a Company: English Players in Central and Eastern Europe, 1590–1660 (1985), Dangerous Matter: English Drama and Politics in 1623/24 (1986), The Masque of Stuart Culture (1990), The Chemistry of the Theatre: Performativity of Time (2010), and Szekspir bez cenzury. Erotyczny żart na scenie elżbietańskiej [Shakespeare uncensored: Erotic pun on the Elizabethan stage] (2018).

In the course of his distinguished career, he was the recipient of many awards, including the Medal of merit for culture: Gloria Artis (2006), the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (2011), the Order of the British Empire (2014), and the Erazm and Anna Jerzmanowski Prize awarded by the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015).

In 2019, it was our pleasure and our privilege to co-host Jerzy as the recipient of the Pragnell Prize, in recognition of his devotion to furthering the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare. He gave the Shakespeare Birthday Lecture. Listening to him made me and many others long to visit his theatre in Gdansk. We arranged a special dinner for him and the Polish Ambassador.

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Professor Jerzy Limon O.B.E. signing our V.I.P. visitors’ book in 2019

At the Shakespeare Birthday Lunch he was an inspiring reminder of the world-wide love of Shakespeare, and a special tribute from The Prince of Wales was read out to him. From the couple of days I spent in Jerzy’s company, I knew I was in the presence of a gracious and good man, a man of faith, and a true Shakespearian. And of course it was our honour to ask him to sign our V.I.P. visitors’ book.

We send our condolences to Jystna and all of Jerzy’s family, his friends, colleagues, and former students.

Paul Edmondson, Head of Research.