Tony Thompson grew up in Toronto, Canada and moved to Australia in 1994. He has a whole bunch of degrees in English Literature but still manages to enjoy reading and discussing books. His CV includes stints as a gravedigger, a rock journalist, a tout for the Rio Hotel in Athens and an English teacher in a water village in Brunei. These days, he works as a writer and educational consultant. He lives in Footscray in Melbourne’s inner west with his son and far too many guitars.
His interest in Shakespeare began when he was on the verge of being thrown out of university and found great comfort in Prince Hal's predicament in Henry IV, Part 1. Realising that he was doomed to spoil Shakespeare for his students as a teacher, he decided to do it in style and found, to his surprise, that it backfired and they began to enjoy the plays. He was astounded to be invited onto Radio National to discuss his experiences teaching Shakespeare and this, in turn, led to his first book, Shakespeare: The Most Famous Man in London. His second book also developed out of teaching. When he couldn't get his students to stop reading the Twilight books in class, he began to tell them about Edward’s predecessors. This led to a book about the history of the genre called Vampires: The Unhistory of the Undead.
Tony can offer two sessions for secondary school students. The first is a rough, no holds barred, trip through Shakespeare’s London. Be warned: If you like your Shakespeare gentle and sweet, this might be a shock. The students will find out why everyone was drunk and what happens when you combine beer with concealed weapons. He will explain the rules of the most violent sport ever played and graphically describe Christopher Marlowe’s unpleasant death. Teachers have commented that Tony’s talk changed the students’ mind about Shakespeare and set the stage, as it were, for studying the plays. "Not for the faint of heart," commented one teacher. "Utterly hilarious," said another. A teacher in Melbourne wrote to thank him, noting that he had made Shakespeare ‘cool’ and got the class to stop worrying about the language in the plays.
The second session is a combination of a writing workshop and a lecture on the history of vampire stories. The students will find out about the 5 questions that must be answered by writers looking to tell one of these stories. They will hear about the first vampire and how he was modelled on the man who was also the first celebrity. They’ll hear about Bram Stoker’s Count and the vampire hunters and slayers who have pursued the creature in so many films and television shows. He will also discuss the recent popularity and relative merits of the ‘good’ vampire. One teacher reported that it had been "a great starting point for our creative writing unit".
Tony is an experienced public speaker who enjoys talking to secondary school audiences. Students find his talks engaging and they like listening to his accent. He is happy to modify his talks or gear them towards a particular assignment or text.
Click here for a print-friendly version of this page