Who was Thomas More, the author of Utopia? The distinguished historian of Tudor England parses the propaganda and More’s writings to read behind the myth. He examines the ways in which More’s legacy has been contested or resisted. And he suggests which aspects of his thought are likely to continue to influence the world in the future.
Ursula Martin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer aged 31 and walked around Wales to raise money for a cancer charity: she recorded the experience in One Woman Walks Wales. Hannah Engelkamp’s book and film Seaside Donkey were based on her experience travelling with this companion around Wales. Hannah’s meanders are now accompanied by her toddler, Osian, who inspired her current writing on ‘wilding’ childhood and what the ‘dériving’ and colonialist habits of infants can teach us about travel. They talk to Gwen Davies.
What makes us human? We all start off as a single fertilised egg, but within nine months the newborn brain has more than 100 billion cells and has made over 100 trillion connections. How is our perception of the world already pre-programmed in the womb? This illustrated talk looks at key moments in brain development in order to understand what it is that makes us human. Dr Topun Austin is a Consultant Neonatologist at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The former bishop of Oxford looks at the work of David Jones, Jacob Epstein, George Rouault, Stanley Spencer, Marc Chagall, Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland and suggests that the modern movement in art has turned out to be a friend, not a foe, of Christian art.
John Aubrey loved England. From an early age, he saw his England slipping away and, against extraordinary odds, committed himself to preserving for posterity what remained of it – in books, monuments and life stories. His Brief Lives would redefine the art of biography yet he published only one rushed, botched book in his lifetime and died fearing his name and achievements would be forgotten.
Scurr’s biography is an act of scholarly imagination: a diary drawn from John Aubrey’s own words, displaying his unique voice, dry wit, the irreverence and drama of a literary pioneer. Aubrey saw himself modestly as a collector of a vanishing past, a ‘scurvy antiquary’. But he was also one of the pioneers of modern writing, a journalist before the age of journalism, who witnessed the Civil War and the Great Fire of London in the company of some of the influential men and women, high and low, whose lives he would make his legacy.
The first female winner of The Royal Society’s book prize, Gaia Vince’s ambitious journey charts humanity’s changes on our living planet. By transforming our relationship with the natural world, humans have beckoned a new a geological age: the Anthropocene. Join Gaia as she talks to broadcaster Adam Rutherford about the stories and people that make up these earth-shifting times.
The comedy-writer’s first novel is the hilarious story of one self-regarding man’s descent into disgrace and his journey back to join the human race. It’s a pin-sharp satire on the shallows of modern media culture and the dysfunctional relationship we all have with the idea of ‘celebrity’.
The flood that God used to destroy the sinful race of man on Earth in Genesis 6:17 crystallises in its terrifying, dramatic simplicity the universally recognised concept of payback. For millennia human civilisation has relied on such beliefs to create a moral order that threatens divine punishment on people who commit crimes, while promising rewards – abstract or material – for those who do good. Today, while secularism and unbelief are at an all-time high, this almost superstitious willingness to believe in karma persists. Why?
With He’s Back, Timur Vermeshas revolutionized the German publishing scene. He has sold close to a million copies of this satire in which he presents an idea of what might happen if Hitler woke up in 2011 and returned to politics. He speaks with Patricio Pron, journalist and author of La vida interior de las plantas de interior.
Simultaneous translation from German into Spanish.
With the collaboration of Fundación del Banco Sabadell and Fundación Lara.
The culmination of some 20 years of thinking, writing and wondering about time, the doctor and philosopher offers a bold, original and thought-provoking meditation on the nature and meaning of life – and time.
Traditional ploughland is disappearing. Seven cornfield flowers have become extinct in the past 20 years. Once abundant, the corn bunting and the lapwing are on the Red List. The corncrake is all but extinct in England. And the hare is running for its life. The author of The Wild Life and Meadowland tells the story of the wild animals and plants that live in and under our ploughland: from the labouring microbes to the patrolling kestrel above the corn, from the linnet pecking at seeds to the seven-spot ladybird that eats the aphids that eat the crop. He talks to Kitty Corrigan.
McMullan and Mair have carefully selected the nine most fascinating documents held by The National Archives relating to Shakespeare’s life. Presented together for the first time, these are some of the most significant documents in the world that track Shakespeare’s life as a citizen of London, a businessman, a family man, a servant to the King, and even possibly a thief and a subversive. They explore both his domestic and professional lives, what it meant to live in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, and the social impact of his plays. McMullan is also the editor of the new digital Norton edition of the complete plays.
The campaigner, publisher and wanderer has spent his life travelling: “The richer our imaginations, the richer our travel experience. We British do things one way and the Spaniards another; there are unlimited ways of doing everything. Kindness is found in unexpected places, as is eccentricity. Eccentrics are an endangered species and need as much protection as does the house sparrow.”
Jones mixes cultural investigation, art appreciation and dental history in an ingenious and wonderfully entertaining account of how we only learned to really smile in Revolutionary France. Colin Jones is Professor of History at Queen Mary University of London. He talks to Rothschild, winner of the Wodehouse Prize and chair of the National Gallery.
The process by which nations escape poverty and achieve economic and social progress has been the subject of extensive examination for hundreds of years. Goldin considers the contributions that education, health, gender, equity and other dimensions of human wellbeing make to development, and discusses why it is also necessary to take into account the role of institutions and the rule of law as well as sustainability and environmental concerns. Chaired by Jesse Norman.
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