'If winter comes, can spring be far behind?' ― Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind / Get 10% off all books and free UK p&p. Offer applied at checkout


Read an extract from Sound, Bella Bathurst's memoir of losing and regaining her hearing, out now in paperback (published with the Wellcome Collection)

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Mary Shelley was brought up by her father in a house filled with radical thinkers, poets, philosophers and writers of the day. Aged sixteen, she eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley, embarking on a relationship that was lived on the move across Britain and Europe, as she coped with debt, infidelity and the deaths of three children, before early widowhood changed her life forever. Most astonishingly, it was while she was still a teenager that Mary composed her canonical novel Frankenstein, creating two of our most enduring archetypes today. The life story is well-known. But who was the woman who lived it? She's left plenty of evidence, and in this fascinating dialogue with the past, Fiona Sampson sifts through letters, diaries and records to find the real woman behind the story. She uncovers a complex, generous character - friend, intellectual, lover and mother - trying to fulfil her own passionate commitment to writing at a time when to be a woman writer was an extraordinary and costly anomaly.Read More
Poet and writer Fiona Sampson looks beyond the well-known story of Mary Shelley to uncover the complex yet generous friend, intellectual, lover and mother behind it. Shelley famously eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley at 16, travelled Britain and Europe while coping with debt, infidelity and the deaths of three children, and wrote Frankenstein when still a teenager. Sampson has gone through Shelley's letters, diaries and records to paint a picture of the woman. She finds a writer committed to her art at a time when it was an extraordinary and expensive anomaly for women to write. Sampson has won many national and international awards for her poetry, which has been published in more than 30 languages. She has worked as an editor, translator, university professor and violinist.Read More
One of Britain's most generous philanthropists Lord David Sainsbury talks to science writer and author Georgina Ferry about the Gatsby Charitable Foundation he launched almost exactly 50 years ago and about how the wealthy can contribute to the common good. Sainsbury established the trust with a £5 cheque in March 1967. It is now spending around £50 million a year on charitable activities and has contributed more than £1 billion in total to programmes ranging from reducing poverty in Africa to raising standards of technical education and investigating how the brain works. Sainsbury is a businessman and politician. He was chair of Sainsbury's between 1992 and 1997, served as Labour Minister of Science and Innovation between 1998 and 2006, and is chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Ferry has written an in-depth account of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation that asks how the affluent might spend their money wisely for the common good. She is a former journalist on New Scientist, has presented science programmes on BBC radio, and is author of six books on science and history.Read More
Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE is a physicist, author and broadcaster, and host of Radio 4's The Life Scientific. In What's Next? he brings together the writings of eighteen top scientists and experts who explore what's in store for the human race. Entertaining, informative and filled with groundbreaking science, What's Next? is your guide to what the future holds.Read More
Can swearing be beneficial to our health and wellbeing? Dr. Emma Byrne is backing evidence that it is, in her new book Swearing is Good for You. This is a spirited and hilarious defence of our most cherished dirty words backed by cutting-edge research. Swearing, it turns out, is an incredibly useful part of our linguistic repertoire. Not only has some form of swearing existed since the earliest humans began to communicate, but it has been shown to reduce physical pain, help stroke victims recover their language, and encourage people to work together as a team. From chimpanzees creating their own curse words to a man who lost half his brain experiencing a new-found compulsion to swear, Dr Byrne outlines the fascinating science behind swearing. Uncover how it affects us both physically and emotionally, and how it is more beneficial than we are led to believe.Read More
Join us for a themed evening to celebrate 200 years of Frankenstein in popular culture. Written by Mary Shelley, the novel first published in 1818 when the author was just 20 years old and has since become a cult classic, inspiring countless adaptations for both stage and screen. Biographer Fiona Sampson will be in conversation with novelist Nick Harkaway to discuss Mary Shelley and her ground-breaking book, regarded by many as the first work of science fiction. This will be followed by a film screening of Kenneth Branagh's 1994 film featuring Robert De Niro, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter and John Cleese. Fiona Sampson is a prize-winning poet, and author of In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein (Profile, February 2018). She has been published in more than thirty languages and received an MBE for services to literature. Sampson is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Literature, and the recipient of a number of national and international honours for her poetry, she has worked as an editor, translator, and university professor as well as a violinist. Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall in 1972. Author of the novels The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker and Tigerman, he lives in London with his wife and two children.Read More
Susie Orbach at the Cambridge Literary FestivalRead More

Gavin Francis on Shapeshifters

Event Date: 26 Apr 2018

Gavin Francis on ShapeshiftersRead More
Mary Shelley lived at the cutting edge of the Romantic zeitgeist. From revolutionary politics to emotional experiment, from public science to educational theory, her generation explored what makes the human self. Examining the records left behind for traces of Mary's own self is a project in keeping with Romantic ideas about 'the instruments of life'. Fiona Sampson, a prize-winning poet and author, will talk about how writing the psychological biography In Search of Mary Shelley helps her understand the teenager who produced Frankenstein and its astonishingly contemporary archetypes. A drinks reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibition of the same name will be held in the Wordsworth Museum after this talk - all attendees are welcome to come along.Read More

Tony Juniper at Brighton Festival

Event Date: 5 May 2018

Tony Juniper at Brighton FestivalRead More

Susie Orbach in conversation

Event Date: 12 May 2018

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A day of games, talks, discussions, workshops ... and TRULY BRAIN-BLASTING, OUT-OF-BODY ILLUSIONS from the Sackler Centre's exhibition Being SomeBody. Talks about everything from our own unconscious biases to why swearing can be good for you. Quick-fire debates on crucial issues with Talkaoke and Stand-up philosophy. A live cartooning workshop from an expert. Plus games, tricks and refreshments ... So allow at least 2 hours. And don't forget to stick around for the evening show! The Sackler Centre's famous exhibition and demonstration Being SomeBody is the centrepiece of this special day for young people. Debate and discussion of will be MC'ed by the Stand-Up Philosophers and the irresistible Talkaoke Table. Meanwhile, find out why Swearing Is Good For You, and check out your prejudices with What's Your Bias. Enjoy the science, the crafts, the refreshments, the games, and find out what it's like 'to be SomeBody'.Read More
Fiona Sampson is a prize-winning poet and writer who will be discussing her latest book 'In Search of Mary Shelley', published for the 200th anniversary of the publication of 'Frankenstein'. Fiona has been published in more than thirty languages and received an MBE for services to literature. A Fellow of the Royal Society for Literature, and the recipient of a number of national and international honours for her poetry, she has worked as an editor, translator, and university professor as well as a violinist.Read More

Fiona Sampson at Words by the Water

Event Date: 9 Mar 2018

Mary Shelley is known for her Gothic novel 'Frankenstein.' But her life and work are often eclipsed by the reputation of her parents - philosopher William Godwin and feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft - and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. Fiona Sampson uncovers Shelley's complex and generous character.Read More
Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the publication of Fat is a Feminist Issue, pioneering therapist Susie Orbach presents the extended new edition of the case histories that inspired her recent Radio 4 series In Therapy. She reveals as much about what is going on in the mind of the person behind the couch as she does the emotional dilemmas of the patient.Read More
From the The Handmaid's Tale to The Power and The Hunger Games to Noughts & Crosses, women's writing has drawn on history to imagine different futures in sci-fi and fantasy writing. With grim comparisons being drawn with dystopian fiction and our current political climate, and as technology and science begin to make what seemed impossible a reality, what can speculative fiction tell us about our world today? On the bicentenary of the publication of Frankenstein - written by a 19 year old Mary Shelley in 1818 and often called the first true work of science fiction - we talk to the women who rule sci-fi and fantasy right now to help us imagine a gender equal world.Read More

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