Social Media Entrepeneurs Awarded Honorary Fellowship

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust awards Honorary Fellowship to social media entrepreneurs

09 December 2013

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity which promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times, has appointed two American digital entrepreneurs, AJ and Melissa Leonof Misfit Incorporated,as Honorary Fellows.

The fellowships recognise the couple’s work in transforming the charity’s digital profile over the past three years with social media projects that have enabled the Trust to connect with diverse audiences internationally.  These projects include Blogging Shakespeare, the charity’s first blog, which attracted nearly 300,000 page views from 167 countries in its first year, and now features contributions from scholars and Shakespeare enthusiasts worldwide.  The Leons also led the conceptualisation, design and development of the 60 Minutes with Shakespeare site exploring the Shakespeare authorship debate in response to the release of the Roland Emmerich film Anonymous (which presents the Earl of Oxford as the author of Shakespeare’s works), and its companion e-book Shakespeare Bites Back which has been downloaded more than 110,000 times across the world.  Last year they created the Year of Shakespeare, documenting the World Shakespeare Festival of 2012, and the site supporting the first Shakespeare Film Shorts competition.

Peter Kyle, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “AJ and Melissa Leon have made possible some of the most innovative and internationally engaging work which the Trust has achieved in recent years.  Thanks to their unstinting support, tuition and practical advice, freely given, our staff have become confident and consistent users of social media platforms, and now we can claim confidently to be leading the world in the enjoyment of Shakespeare in the digital sphere.”

A former banker and teacher respectively, AJ and Melissa Leon set up Misfit Incorporated in 2008.  In addition to advising major corporations on digital media, they develop social, humanitarian, cultural and creative projects around the globe; these range from community development programmes for villages in Kenya, Ethiopia and Indonesia, to health and sanitation programs in Malawi, and a creative arts conference and journal. 

AJ Leon said, “It is a tremendous honour for us to be made Honorary Fellows of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  Five years ago we gave up our jobs to travel the world in pursuit of everything – to live with intention, do work that truly matters and to make a difference on this planet.  The first company I ever started many years ago was a Shakespearian theatre company in America. Needless to say, I always turn to Shakespeare for inspiration, so being part of the charity which promotes the enjoyment of Shakespeare is one of the greatest delights of my life. “


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Notes to editors:
Press release date: 9 December 2013.

For more information please contact Press and Public Affairs Officer Nurinder Mantell on 01789 207136 or email


Picture caption: From left to right, Melissa Leon and AJ Leon of Misfit IncorporatedwithBaroness Floella Benjamin OBE – all Honorary Fellows of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world. The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no public subsidy or direct government funding; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends.