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Mary Shelley, daughter of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and revolutionary philosopher William Godwin, grew up in a house full of radicals. At sixteen she eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley, embarking on a passionate relationship lived on the move across Britain and Europe. Before her early widowhood, Mary had already experienced debt, infidelity, orphanhood, and the deaths of three of her children. It was against this dramatic backdrop - and while she was still a teenager - that she composed the cultural landmark that is Frankenstein. In the process she created two of today's most enduring archetypes. Published to mark Frankenstein's bicentenary, Fiona Sampson's critically acclaimed new biography, In Search of Mary Shelley, sifts the evidence to find the real person behind the clichés. Fiona Sampson is a prizewinning poet and writer published in more than thirty languages. Her honours include an MBE for services to literature.Read More
For a woman to succeed as a writer 200 years ago she had to be tenacious, brave and exceptional. Both Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein were written then and their authors are the subjects of Emily Brontë Reappraised by Brontë specialist Claire O'Callaghan and In Search of Mary Shelley by award-winning poet and writer, Fiona Sampson. Each offers a revealing account of these vital literary figures. Chaired by Lennie Goodings.Read More
Writer and slow adventurer Jasper Winn spent a year exploring Britain's waterways on foot, by bike, in a kayak and on narrowboats. Along a thousand miles of 'wet roads and water streets' he discovered a world of wildlife corridors, underground adventures, the hardware of heritage and history, new boating communities, endurance kayak races and remote towpaths. He shared journeys with some of the last working boat people and met the anglers, walkers, boaters, activists, volunteers and eccentrics who have made the waterways their home. In Britain most of us live within five miles of a canal, and reading this book we will see them in an entirely new light.Read More
Identity and literature with Kwame Anthony Appiah, Reith Lecturer and Chair of the Man Booker Prize 2018 judgesRead More
To be alive is to be in perpetual change. In Shapeshifters, award winning Edinburgh writer and doctor Gavin Francis considers the transformations in mind and body that continue across the arc of every human life and the power and limitations of medicine in altering our lives. Gavin, who practises as a GP, is already the best selling author of Adventures in Human Being, Saltire Non Fiction Book of the Year 2015, and travel books True North and Antarctica: Ice, Silence and Emperor Penguins. The latter won the Scottish Book of the Year award in 2013. Sponsored by the Nairn Literary InstituteRead 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
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, 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. Emma Byrne is an honest-to-goodness robot scientist who specialises in AI, robotics and neuroscience. Her BBC Radio 4 'Four Thought' episode was selected as one of the "best of 2013" by the programme's editors. She has been selected as a British Science Association Media Fellow and for the BBC Expert Women Training, and is published in CIO, Forbes and the Financial Times. She frequently appears on Sky News and the BBC discussing the future of artificial intelligence and robotics. She writes regularly for startups in the medical and financial technology fields. Her interest in neuroscience and the benefits of swearing led to her first popular science book Swearing is Good for You.Read More
Names like Passchendaele, Verdun and The Somme are etched into our national consciousness but the last months of the First World War are often overlooked. Peter Hart, official oral historian at the Imperial War Museum, has pieced together one of history's greatest endgames in The Last Battle. The result, marking the centenary, is a "superb account of the tactics that finally brought victory on the Western Front," according to The Times. By August 1918, the outcome of the Great War was not in doubt but would the Germans prolong the conflict, with the loss of hundreds of thousands more young lives? Hart, author of Gallipoli and The Great War, draws on the accounts of generals as well as ordinary soldiers as he brings to life the dramatic final weeks. He also reminds us that the collective armies of France, Britain, America and Belgium achieved total domination over the German Army on the Western Front. "The all too frequent deaths so close to The Armistice gives a terrible poignancy to this last battle," Hart writes. "This book... is a tragic story told for the most part by those men who were lucky enough to survive. Many did not."Read More
Do you say 'bath' (as in 'hearth') or 'bath' (as in 'maths')? Controversy or controversy? Halifax or 'Alifax? Pronunciation unites people and divides them, gives people joy and infuriates them. Little wonder that the subtitle of David Crystal's Sounds Appealing is The Passionate Story of English Pronunciation. The book tells us why and how we pronounce words the way we do. Taking in phonetics, linguistics and physiology, Crystal explores the origins of regional accents, how they are influenced by class and education and how they have changed over time. To say that Crystal is an expert on the English language is something of an understatement: he has written more than 100 books on the subject, ranging from Listen to Your Child to Think on My Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language. He has an OBE for services to the English language; he is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor; and he is the author of the definitive Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Now, repeat after me: the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.Read More
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
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
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
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.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.Read More

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