Stephen Booth (b. 1933) is a professor of English literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He first attracted attention with his controversial 1969 essays On the Value of Hamlet and An Essay on Shakespeare's Sonnets, in which he reread the works in a manner considerably different from contemporary Anglo-American readings. Frank Kermode praised the former essay in the New York Review of Books in 1970 as being worth several full books of Shakespeare studies.
In 1977 he published an edition with "analytic commentary" of the sonnets, again attracting both controversy and praise within the academy for his precision and bold rereadings. In 1983 followed King Lear, Macbeth, Indefinition, and Tragedy, probably his best-known work after the study of the sonnets. His most recent book is 1998's Precious Nonsense: The Gettysburg Address, Ben Jonson's Epitaphs on His Children, and Twelfth Night.