About Us & Activities

History of the ESU

The English-Speaking Union of the United States was created to fulfill a mission.  It was formally organized in the United States in 1920 and arose from the conviction of its founder, Sir Evelyn Wrench and a group of like-minded American and British friends, that maintenance of the close personal and national ties forged during World War I was necessary for the preservation of peace. He imagined the ESU as an inclusive organization "founded in no narrow attitude of race pride, in no spirit of hostility to any people."  Its educational mission would be carried out by a host of activities allowing for personal contact between peoples at every level.

Our Branch's Role

Since its establishment over fifty years ago, our Branch has performed a significant role by funding numerous scholarships, now fellowships, worth $6,000 to successful recipients. These awards have permitted many an outstanding college student or deserving local high school teacher in Charlottesville and its surrounding eight counties to attend summer school study at prestigious British universities, including Oxford. New to the program is Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance, a three week course for teachers at The Globe, the replica of Shakespeare's playhouse constructed on the site of the original on the south bank of London's Thames River.

Among other ESU programs are those designed to promote the exchange of ideas between educators and administrators in the United States and those in similar career fields in the U.K. and the Southern Hemisphere. Our Branch members open their homes to these scholars, make appointments for them with local counterparts and provide transport during their visits.

The newest undertaking is the return of the Shakespeare Competition for high school students, the hallmark program of the ESU world-wide. Winners gathered in April at Lincoln Center in New York City. This year, our Branch Representative won the top prize, an all expense paid trip to England to study Shakespeare at Oxford University during the summer.

Our Activities

National Shakespeare Competition

TLab: Travel and Learn Abroad

The English-Speaking Union

Charlottesville Branch

Welcome to the ESU

The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.

To find out more about our programs click here.