William P. Halstead's career spanned five decades at the University of Michigan as a Professor of Speech Communication and Theatre. Halstead was born on February 10, 1906 in Terre Haute, Indiana. He received his A.B. from Indiana University and after pursuing graduate studies at a number of universities, completed his Ph.D. at Michigan in 1935. He started his career at Michigan as a student teacher, then became an instructor upon completion of his doctorate. In 1937 Halstead was promoted to assistant professor, to associate professor in 1942, and to professor in 1952. During his long career at the university, Halstead played a key role in theatre activities as a stage director and a teacher, particularly in the field of theatre history. He served as chairman of the theatre department from 1956 to 1973 and it was under his guidance and inspiration that the department achieved the signal feat of producing all the Shakespeare plays. Halstead retired from the university in May 1975.
Nationally, Halstead was very active in the American Educational Theatre Association, serving as executive secretary from 1952 to 1949 and as president in 1952-53. He co-authored a book on directing. Professor Halstead's last academic achievement was completing the 12-volume work Shakespeare as Spoken with publishing completed in 1979. Two supplemental volumes were published in 1983. The work is a collation of all acting editions and all prompt books of Shakespeare's works.
William P. Halstead died December 31, 1983.