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Events

To mark the bi-centenary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, three leading prize-winning writers talk about the early novelists who changed the world and created the novel as a story form. Lyndall Gordon, author of Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed The World, is a leading biographer; Fiona Sampson, author of In Search of Mary Shelley, is a poet and writer and was awarded an MBE for services to literature, and Paula Byrne, author of The Genius of Jane Austen, is an author and biographer and founder of ReLit the charity for literature and mental health.Read More

Gavin Francis on Shapeshifters

Date: 26 Apr 2018

Gavin Francis on ShapeshiftersRead More
Author, journalist and veteran politician Chris Mullin has been centre stage for many a political calamity over the last thirty years. In this fascinating talk, he outlines what makes a political disaster, and what can follow in its Author, journalist and veteran politician Chris Mullin has been centre stage for many a political calamity over the last thirty years. In this fascinating talk, he outlines what makes a political disaster, and what can follow in its wake.Read 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
Environmentalism 2.0 Caroline Lucas discusses the future of the environmental movement with author Tony Juniper, whose new book, Rainforest, draws on his many years' experience as a frontline campaigner.Read More
All serious politicians should possess a hinterland, but not all do. Chris Mullin, Member of Parliament for Sunderland South from 1987 to 2010, was one who did. By the time he entered parliament he had reported from the wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. He was the author of three novels including A Very British Coup (1982) which foretold the rise of Corbyn and had led the successful campaign to free the innocent people convicted of the Birmingham bombings. In parliament he quickly established himself as a fearless inquisitor, going on to become a minister in three departments. Mullin is the author of three acclaimed volumes of diaries described as 'witty, waspish and hilarious' which are widely considered the best account of the New Labour era. Hinterland is his autobiography.Read More
What's next for the human race? Are we ready for a self-mending bicycle? What about a pill that means we'll never have a bad mood again? Are we up for living in space, or in a world where medicine is tailored to our specific DNA? Do we need to be ready for the moment that artificial intelligence simply takes over? Join leading scientists Jim Al-Khalili and Sir Nigel Shadbolt as they discuss the future of robotics, the Internet of Things, cloud technologies, big data, cybersecurity, privacy and AI. They will dispel some of the terror, confusion and misconceptions about AI and will explain we are not about to be elbowed aside by a rebel army of super-intelligent robots of our own creation. The much-vaunted Transcendence moment is not coming any time soon. This session will be entertaining, informative and filled with ground-breaking science suitable for families and children over 13.Read More
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. Published for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, this is a major new work of biography by a prize-winning writer and poet.Read More
Swearing Is Good For You is a spirited and hilarious defence of our most cherished dirty words, backed by historical case studies and cutting-edge research. From chimpanzees creating their own curse words to a man who lost half his brain in a mining accident experiencing a new-found compulsion to swear, Dr Emma Byrne outlines the fascinating science behind swearing: how it affects us both physically and emotionally, and how it is more natural and beneficial than we are led to believe.Read More
By August 1918, the outcome of the Great War was not in doubt: the Allies would win. But what was unclear was how this defeat would play out - would the Germans hold on, prolonging the fighting deep into 1919, with the loss of hundreds of thousands more young lives, or could the war be won in 1918? In The Last Battle, Peter Hart, author of Gallipoli and The Great War, and oral historian at the Imperial War Museum, brings to life the dramatic final weeks of the war, as men fought to secure victory, with survival seemingly only days, or hours away. Drawing on the experience of both generals and ordinary soldiers, and dwelling with equal weight on strategy, tactics and individual experience, this is a powerful and detailed account of history's greatest endgame.Read More
From gruesome diseases to jaw-dropping operations, the bloody history of medicine has fascinated us for centuries. In this warts-and-all panel discussion, writers Jack Hartnell (Medieval Bodies), Richard Barnett (The Smile Stealers) and James Wood (TV's Quacks) will explore our obsession with anatomy, medical marvels and the surgeon's knife.Read More
Frankenstein, the monster imagined by an adolescent Mary Shelley in her novel published two hundred years ago, continues to fascinate in an age when the consequences of scientific research and intervention appear increasingly out of control. Fiona Sampson's biography, In Search of Mary Shelley, tracks down the precocious girl and unconventional woman behind the monster. Kathryn Harkup's Making the Monster explores the gruesome scientific background behind Shelley's creation and the gothic novel's influence on cutting edge research. A chemist and author of A is for Arsenic, she knows whereof she speaks. Fiona Sampson is an award-winning poet, editor and translator. They discuss Shelley's monster with cultural historian Christopher Frayling, author of Frankenstein's First Two Hundred Years.Read More
The diplomat and historian examines the current state and historical context of UK-Russia relations. From 1988 to 1992 Braithwaite was ambassador in Moscow, first of all to the Soviet Union and then to the Russian Federation. Subsequently he was the Prime Minister's foreign policy adviser and chairman of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee. His books include Moscow 1941, Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan and Armageddon and Paranoia. Chaired by Nik Gowing.Read More
Following a year of radical protest and change for women in creative industries, Sarah Perry (author of The Essex Serpent, Waterstones Book of the Year 2016) is joined by Fiona Sampson (author of In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein) and Peggy Hughes (Programme Director, Writers' Centre Norwich), for a celebration of women and writing which focuses on three important anniversaries: 80 years of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, the 100th birthday of Muriel Spark, and the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. This event will be chaired by Caroline O'Donoghue.Read More
Five speakers, 15 minutes each to blow your mind. A quick-fire exploration of the mysteries of our bodies and brains, from medical conditions so strange they leave doctors baffled to the gruesome acts of medieval times. Presented in association with 5x15. Hosted by Stephanie Cross.Read More
Susie Orbach's In Therapy: The Unfolding Story, based on a very popular BBC radio series, explores the process of therapy through dramatised case studies. It reveals as much about what is going on in the mind of the person behind the couch as it does the emotional dilemmas of the clients. Susie Orbach's other books include the groundbreaking Fat is a Feminist Issue, What Do Women Want and Bodies. It is not for nothing that The New York Times referred to her as "Probably the most famous psychotherapist to have set up couch in Britain since Freud." She discusses what happens in therapy with Francesca Segal, author of The Awkward Age, a novel about contemporary family disruption.Read More
The compelling concept of transformation is both ancient (Ovid's Metamorphoses) and topical. Gavin Francis follows the phenomenal international success of Adventures in Human Being with Shapeshifters, a book about medicine and human change which could not be more timely in this transgender age. Mixing case studies with observations about history, art, literature, myth and magic, the book covers inevitable body changes, such as puberty, and self-imposed changes, such as cosmetic surgery and tattooing.Read More
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. Published for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, this is a major new work of biography by the prize-winning writer and poet Fiona Sampson.Read More
Dripping with blood and gold, fetishised and tortured, gateway to earthly delights and point of contact with the divine, forcibly divided and powerful even beyond death, there was no territory more contested than the body in the medieval world. The art historian uncovers the complex and fascinating ways in which the people of the Middle Ages thought about, explored and experienced their physical selves.Read More

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