Inga-Stina Ewbank was a professor of English literature in London and Leeds. She specialised in several fields: Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists; women authors from Victorian times; and the theory and practice of translation. She translated Ibsen’s and Strindberg’s dramas to English. During her working life, she received many awards, both in Sweden and internationally.
Inga-Stina Ewbank was born Inga-Stina Ekeblad in 1932. She grew up near Tidaholm in south-western Sweden, where she also first went to school. She later attended the Gothenburg girls’ grammar school. She was given the opportunity of a scholarship year at Carleton College in Minnesota, USA, where she read English and was elected to the fine, traditional student organisation Phi Beta Kappa. When she returned from the USA, she took a B. A. degree at Gothenburg University in English and the history of literature. She continued her studies at the University of Sheffield, where she took her M. A. degree. After that she was offered a post as a William Noble Research Fellow, which for her meant studying and doing research at the University of Liverpool from 1955 until 1957. The three years after that, 1957–1960, were spent at the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham. During this time, Inga-Stina Ewbank taught periodically at Munich University after having been invited there by a German Shakespeare scholar.
In 1959 she married Roger Ewbank, a veterinary surgeon. The couple had three children: Jane, Kit and Emily. She returned as a lecturer to the University of Liverpool in 1960 and remained there for twelve years. During this time, she published a groundbreaking study in 1966 in the field of Victorian women authors: Their Proper Sphere: a study of the Brontë sisters as early-Victorian female novelists.
In 1972, she was made senior lecturer in English literature at Bedford College, University of London. From 1974, she was appointed professor of English literature at the same university. She remained there until 1985. After that she accepted a post at Leeds University where she stayed until 1997, when she retired with the title professor emerita. Her three main fields of research were Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists, women authors from the 1800s, and the theory and practice of translation. Apart from all her publications on Shakespeare’s, Webster’s and Middleton’s dramas, an unpublished scientific manuscript was found after her death. It was on Ben Jonson’s Catiline His Conspiracy, as Brita Olinder recounted in an article in Dagens Nyheter in 2004 with the title: ”Inga-Stina Ewbank. Banbrytande översättare mellan två kulturer”.
Apart from her work as a teacher, lecturer and researcher at British universities, she was a guest lecturer at many other universities around the world, among them Harvard and other American universities. From 1982 until 1997, she was a member of the University Grants Committee at the university in Hong Kong. There she was also awarded an honorary doctorate and rewarded with a Governor’s Bauhinia Silver Star in 1999. Thus she travelled a great deal, was much in demand as a lecturer and teacher and was also a self-evident participant in conferences with Shakespeare as a theme.
With her great involvement for language and literature and her link to the Scandinavian languages in her background, Inga-Stina Ewbank translated both Strindberg and Ibsen into English. Since she was also very interested in the relationship of language and theatre, this led to fruitful cooperation with Peter Hall, Peggy Ashcroft, Ralph Richardson and other eminent theatre directors and actors, concerning the translation of above all Ibsen, for the English National Theatre. Among other works, she translated Vildanden with Peter Hall, cooperated with John Barton on Ibsen, Katie Mitchell on Strindberg, and translated Ibsen’s Brand with Adrian Noble. Inga-Stina Ewbank gradually became known as an Ibsen researcher, working in both England and Norway. She was elected to the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and awarded an honorary doctorate at Oslo University among other things, as Brita Olinder points out in her obituary in DN. Olinder also emphasises Inga-Stina Ewbank’s unique relationship with the English language: ”Even if she is assumed to be the only professor of English literature in England who only spoke Swedish until the age of 19, she is seen as being totally involved in the literature of her second home country without however losing contact with its European dimensions.”
Inga-Stina Ewbank died in London in 2004.