Sir Simon Russell Beale has received an honorary fellowship from Somerville College.

Celebrated as "the greatest stage actor of his generation" by The Independent, Sir Simon began his acting career at The Royal Court after gaining a first in English from the University of Cambridge.

He then spent eight years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, making a name for himself with both comedic and tragic roles, before joining the National Theatre, where he remained on and off for 25 years.

Somerville CollegeSomerville College (Image: Google Maps)

He said: "I am delighted with this great honour that Somerville College has awarded me."

Sir Simon has been a close associate of Somerville College since 2015, when he spoke alongside Shakespeare expert professor Katherine Duncan-Jones at a literary tea.

He has since attended the college for numerous events, and will next visit Somerville in October for an in-conversation event with Emma Smith, professor of Shakespeare studies at the University of Oxford.

He added: "Over the years, and during many visits to the college, particularly through my meetings with Katherine Duncan-Jones and Emma Smith, my affection for the college has grown and I anticipate confidently that it will grow still further.

"It is marvellous to play a small part in the history of an institution that is so rightly proud of its inclusivity and its sense of adventure."

Sir Simon’s career has garnered him numerous accolades, including 10 Laurence Olivier Award nominations of which he won three - for his roles in Volpone, Candide, and Uncle Vanya.

He won a Tony Award for his Broadway performance in The Lehman Trilogy, and he has won two BAFTA's for his appearances in the BBC's Hollow Crown series and A Dance to the Music of Time.

In 2019 he was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the Arts.

Principal Jan Royall, said: "It is delightful to know that, through this association, Somerville College can reaffirm our long-standing commitment to the humanities and anticipate many more such unforgettable encounters with Sir Simon.

"He is a thoroughly good man, a phenomenal actor and a livewire connection to the world of Shakespeare and his contemporaries."

Sir Simon also works as an editor, author and public intellectual and is a series editor of the Arden Performance editions of Shakespeare’s plays.

His book ‘A Piece of Work', which shares insights into Shakespearean study and acting, will be published in September.

An honorary fellowship is the college’s highest recognition of distinction for alumni and associates and is conferred annually by its governing body.