5x15 Special: Great Lives

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Join us for an inspirational journey across seven centuries and hear the incredible true stories behind five extraordinary lives.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Begin Again

Mixing biography with a searing analysis of our present, Professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. joins us to talk about his acclaimed, best selling biography of James Baldwin: Begin Again - asking what urgent lessons Baldwin, known as ‘the poet of the revolution’, can teach us about today. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Begin Again is a New York Times best seller: “A powerful study of how to bear witness in a moment when America is being called to do the same.” (Time)


Linda Colley
The Gun, the Ship and the Pen

Linda Colley is an award-winning historian, academic, author and broadcaster and the Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University. She joins us to talk about Catherine the Great - the bold, brilliant and guileful empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796 - who was experimenting with constitutional techniques decades before the Founding Fathers framed the American constitution. Linda Colley’s award-winning books include Britons: Forging the Nation,Acts of Union and Disunion and her new book The Gun, the Ship and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World– reconfiguring the rise of a modern world through the advent and spread of written constitutions.


Ed Caesar
The Moth and the Mountain

Ed Caesar joins us to tell a story of heroism, adventure, madness and thwarted love. His new book The Moth and the Mountain is about Britain’s most mysterious mountaineering legend, Maurice Wilson, who in the 1930s conceived an incredible plan to crash land his Gipsy Moth on Everest and conquer its summit alone. Ed Caesar is an award-winning journalist who is a contributing writer for the New Yorker. He is the winner of eleven major journalism awards including a British Press Award, PPA Writer of the Year and the 2014 Foreign Press Award for Journalist of the Year.


Polly Samson
Theatre For Dreamers

Polly Samson joins us to talk about the extraordinary life of the Australian writer and essayist Charmian Clift, a woman ahead of her time who was an inspiration to Leonard Cohen, and the centre of a bohemian artists’ colony on the Greek island of Hydra in the 1950s and 60s. Charmian Clift has been reimagined in fiction by Polly in her best-selling novel Theatre for Dreamers. Polly Samson’s work has been shortlisted for numerous prizes, translated into several languages and has been dramatised on BBC Radio 4. Her novel The Kindness was named Book of the Year by The Times and Observer. She has written lyrics for four Number One albums, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Philip Hoare
Albert and the Whale

In Albert and the Whale Philip Hoare sets out to explore the enduring art of the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer, whose hyper-real images changed the way nature was seen. Along the way he encounters medieval alchemists and modernist poets, eccentric emperors and queer soul rebels, ambassadorial whales and enigmatic pop artists. Philip Hoare is a professor of creative writing at the University of Southampton and author of books including Leviathan or, the Whale, which won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize; he is also co-curator of the Moby-Dick Big Read and Ancient Mariner Big Read.


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