In 1570, when it became clear she would never be gathered into the Catholic fold, Elizabeth I was excommunicated by the Pope. On the principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, this marked the beginning of an extraordinary English alignment with the Muslim powers fighting Catholic Spain in the Mediterranean, and of cultural, economic and political exchanges with the Islamic world of a depth not again experienced until the modern age. England signed treaties with the Ottoman Porte, received ambassadors from the kings of Morocco and shipped munitions to Marrakesh. By the late 1580s hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Elizabethan merchants, diplomats, sailors, artisans and privateers were plying their trade from Morocco to Persia.
These included the resourceful mercer Anthony Jenkinson who met both Süleyman the Magnificent and the Persian Shah Tahmasp in the 1560s, William Harborne, the Norfolk merchant who became the first English ambassador to the Ottoman court in 1582 and the adventurer Sir Anthony Sherley, who spent much of 1600 at the court of Shah Abbas the Great. The previous year, remarkably, Elizabeth sent the Lancastrian blacksmith Thomas Dallam to the Ottoman capital to play his clockwork organ in front of Sultan Mehmed. The awareness of Islam which these Englishmen brought home found its way into many of the great cultural productions of the day, including most famously Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and The Merchant of Venice. The year after Dallam’s expedition, the Moroccan ambassador, Abd al-Wahid bin Mohammed al-Annuri, spent six months in London with his entourage. Shakespeare wrote Othello six months later. Brotton shows that England’s relations with the Muslim world were far more extensive, and often more amicable, than we have appreciated, and that their influence was felt across the political, commercial and domestic landscape of Elizabethan England.
Jelly Boots is a riotous celebration of words – silly words, funny words, new words, old words, words you only use in your own family and the very best words in the right order. Uncle Gobb and the Green Heads is the second uproarious Uncle Gobb adventure. Join Michael Rosen for an introduction to these and others of his much-loved and amazing stories.
Few would dispute that we live in an unequal and unjust world, but what causes this inequality to persist? Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%, examines who is most harmed by these injustices and why, and what happens to those who most benefit. O’Hara, author of Austerity Bites, takes us on a journey to the sharp end of the cuts in the UK. Hard-hitting and uncompromising in their call to action, this event is essential for everyone concerned with social justice.
Many young British women are actively choosing to embrace Salafism’s (or Wahhabism’s) literalist beliefs and strict regulations, including heavy veiling, wifely obedience and seclusion from non-related men. How do these young women reconcile such demands with their desire for university education, fulfilling careers and loving relationships? Drawing on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork in London, Inge examines the attractions of Salafism.
There is a burgeoning literature on end-of-life writing, on grief, bereavement and memorial. Edmund de Waal talks about mortality and how it is reflected across different genres and art-forms from the poetry of Anne Carson and Max Porter, the memoirs of Paul Kalanithi and Marion Coutts, to the writings of Atul Gawande and Julia Samuel. He will also discuss his own porcelain installations and collaborations that explore ideas of memorial. The Wellcome Book Prize lecture aims to celebrate the place of medicine, science and the stories of illness in literature, arts and culture, and how these stories add to our understanding of what it means to be human. Edmund De Waal, chair of judges for the 2018 prize, is an artist and writer, author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes and The White Road.
The National Trust chairman presents his rhapsodic celebration of the landscapes and cityscapes of England, informed with his insightful historical, geographical and architectural commentary. Chaired by Justin Albert.
Hear all about Magic Ink, the brand-new comic strip adventure from the madcap mind of Steve Cole, bestselling author of Astrosaurs, Cows In Action and Slime Squad.
Archie Miles has been a professional photographer for forty years. With an abiding passion for the British landscape, he has carved a specialist niche in the world of trees. He has written and photographed eight books on the subject and his latest, The British Oak, is a stunning reflection of Archie’s particular love of our ancient oak trees, profiling fifty of the most famous in Britain and celebrating the diverse array of fascinating stories and historic associations that have made them so remarkable.
The Egyptian novelist discusses her writing and her heroic Palfest festival, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year with an anthology This Is Not a Border: Reportage and Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature. Soueif’s fiction includes In The Eye of the Sun and The Map of Love. Her non-fiction work includes Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed.
This event will be recorded for broadcast on the BBC World News programme Talking Books
The novelist discusses his wartime childhood, his early married life and academic career, and the development of his fiction – all of which he explores in his memoir, which covers the years up to the publication of Changing Places.
Jennifer Gray and Amanda Swift introduce you to the antics of a cast of fun-loving guinea pigs and their latest adventure Viking Victory.
Duration 45 mins.