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In Our Time

In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas, people and events that have shaped our world.


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Napoleon's Hundred Days

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Napoleon Bonaparte's temporary return to power in France in 1815, following his escape from exile on Elba . He arrived with fewer than a thousand men, yet three weeks later he had displaced Louis XVIII and taken charge of an army as large as any that the Allied Powers could muster individually. He saw that his best chance was to pick the Allies off one by one, starting with the Prussian and then the British/Allied armies in what is now Belgium. He appeared to be on the point of victory at Waterloo yet somehow it eluded him, and his plans were soon in tatters. His escape to America thwarted, he surrendered on 15th July and was exiled again but this time to Saint Helena. There he wrote his memoirs to help shape his legacy, while back in Europe there were still fears of his return.


Michael Rowe Reader in European History at Kings College London

Katherine Astbury Professor of French Studies at the University of Warwick


Zack White Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth

Producer: Simon Tillotson In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio production.

Reading list:

Katherine Astbury and Mark Philp (ed.), Napoleon's Hundred Days and the Politics of Legitimacy (Palgrave, 2018)

Jeremy Black, The Battle of Waterloo: A New History (Icon Books, 2010)

Michael Broers, Napoleon: The Decline and Fall of an Empire: 1811-1821 (Pegasus Books, 2022)

Philip Dwyer, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in power 1799-1815 (Bloomsbury, 2014)

Charles J. Esdaile, Napoleon, France and Waterloo: The Eagle Rejected (Pen & Sword Military, 2016)

Gareth Glover, Waterloo: Myth and Reality (Pen & Sword Military, 2014)

Sudhir Hazareesingh, The Legend of Napoleon (Granta, 2014)

John Hussey, Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815, Volume 1, From Elba to Ligny and Quatre Bras (Greenhill Books, 2017)

Andrew Roberts, Napoleon the Great (Penguin Books, 2015)

Brian Vick, The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics after Napoleon (Harvard University Press, 2014)

Zack White (ed.), The Sword and the Spirit: Proceedings of the first ?War & Peace in the Age of Napoleon? Conference (Helion and Company, 2021)

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristophanes' comedy in which the women of Athens and Sparta, led by Lysistrata, secure peace in the long-running war between them by staging a sex strike. To the men in the audience in 411BC, the idea that peace in the Peloponnesian War could be won so easily was ridiculous and the thought that their wives could have so much power over them was even more so. However Aristophanes' comedy also has the women seizing the treasure in the Acropolis that was meant to fund more fighting in an emergency, a fund the Athenians had recently had to draw on. They were in a perilous position and, much as they might laugh at Aristophanes' jokes, they knew there were real concerns about the actual cost of the war in terms of wealth and manpower.


Paul Cartledge AG Leventis Senior Research Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge

Sarah Miles Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University


James Robson Professor of Classical Studies at the Open University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Aristophanes (ed. Jeffrey Henderson), Lysistrata (Oxford University Press, 1987)

Aristophanes (ed. Jeffrey Henderson), Three Plays by Aristophanes: Staging Women (Routledge, 2010)

Aristophanes (ed. Jeffrey Henderson), Birds; Lysistrata; Women at the Thesmophoria (Loeb Classical Library series, Harvard University Press, 2014)

Aristophanes (ed. Alan H. Sommerstein), Lysistrata and Other Plays: The Acharnians; The Clouds; Lysistrata (Penguin, 2002)

Aristophanes (ed. Alan H. Sommerstein), Lysistrata (Aris & Phillips, 1998)

Paul Cartledge, Aristophanes and his Theatre of the Absurd (Bristol Classical Press, 1999)

Kenneth Dover, Aristophanic Comedy (University of California Press, 1972)

Germaine Greer, Lysistrata: The Sex Strike: After Aristophanes (Aurora Metro Press, 2000)

Tony Harrison, The Common Chorus: A Version of Aristophanes? Lysistrata (Faber & Faber, 1992)

Douglas M. MacDowell, Aristophanes and Athens: An Introduction to the Plays (Oxford University Press, 1995)

S. Douglas Olson (ed.), Ancient Comedy and Reception: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson (De Gruyter, 2013), especially 'She (Don't) Gotta Have It: African-American reception of Lysistrata' by Kevin Wetmore

James Robson, Aristophanes: Lysistrata, Bloomsbury ancient comedy companions (Bloomsbury, 2023)

James Robson, Aristophanes: An Introduction (Duckworth, 2009)

Ralph M. Rosen and Helene P. Foley (eds.), Aristophanes and Politics. New Studies (Brill, 2020)

Donald Sells, Parody, Politics and the Populace in Greek Old Comedy (Bloomsbury, 2018)

David Stuttard (ed.), Looking at Lysistrata: Eight Essays and a New Version of Aristophanes' Provocative Comedy (Bristol Classical Press, 2010)

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Nikola Tesla

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and his role in the development of electrical systems towards the end of the nineteenth century. He made his name in New York in the contest over which current should flow into homes and factories in America. Some such as Edison backed direct current or DC while others such as Westinghouse backed alternating current or AC and Nikola Tesla?s invention of a motor that worked on AC swung it for the alternating system that went on to power the modern age. He ensured his reputation and ideas burnt brightly for the next decades, making him synonymous with the lone, genius inventor of the new science fiction.


Simon Schaffer Emeritus Fellow of Darwin College, University of Cambridge

Jill Jonnes Historian and author of ?Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Electrify the World?


Iwan Morus Professor of History at Aberystwyth University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

W. Bernard Carlson, Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age (Princeton University Press, 2013)

Margaret Cheney and Robert Uth, Tesla: Master of Lightning (Barnes & Noble Books, 1999)

Thomas P. Hughes, Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983)

Carolyn Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New (Open University Press, 1988)

Iwan Rhys Morus, Nikola Tesla and the Electrical Future (Icon Books, 2019)

Iwan Rhys Morus, How The Victorians Took Us To The Moon (Icon, 2022)

David E. Nye, Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology (MIT Press, 1991)

John J. O?Neill, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla (first published 1944; Cosimo Classics, 2006)

Marc J. Seifer, Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla, Biography of a Genius (first published 1996; Citadel Press, 2016)

Nikola Tesla, My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla (first published 1919; Martino Fine Books, 2011)

Nikola Tesla, My Inventions and other Writings (Penguin, 2012)

In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio production

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The Kalevala

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Finnish epic poem that first appeared in print in 1835 in what was then the Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire and until recently part of Sweden. The compiler of this epic was a doctor, Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884), who had travelled the land to hear traditional poems about mythical heroes being sung in Finnish, the language of the peasantry, and writing them down in his own order to create this landmark work. In creating The Kalevala, Lönnrot helped the Finns realise they were a distinct people apart from Sweden and Russia, who deserved their own nation state and who came to demand independence, which they won in 1917.


Riitta Valijärvi Associate Professor in Finnish and Minority Languages at University College London

Thomas Dubois The Halls-Bascom Professor of Scandinavian Folklore and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison


Daniel Abondolo Formerly Reader in Hungarian at University College London

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Nigel Fabb, What is Poetry? Language and Memory in the Poems of the World (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Frog, Satu Grünthal, Kati Kallio and Jarkko Niemi (eds), Versification: Metrics in Practice (Finnish Literature Society, 2021)

Riho Grünthal et al., ?Drastic demographic events triggered the Uralic spread? (Diachronica, Volume 39, Issue 4, Aug 2022)

Lauri Honko (ed.), The Kalevala and the World's Traditional Epics (Finnish Literature Society, 2002)

The Kalevala Heritage: Archive Recordings of Ancient Finnish Songs. Online Catalogue no. ODE8492.

Mauri Kunnas, The Canine Kalevala (Otava Publishing, 1992)

Kuusi, Matti, et al. (eds.), Finnish Folk Poetry: Epic (Finnish Literature Society, 1977)

Elias Lönnrot (trans. John Martin Crawford), Kalevala: The Epic Poem of Finland (first published 1887; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017)

Elias Lönnrot (trans. W. F. Kirby), Kalevala: The Land of the Heroes (first published by J.M. Dent & Sons, 1907, 2 vols.; ? Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 2000)

Elias Lönnrot (trans. Francis Peabody Magoun Jr.), The Kalevala, or Poems of the Kaleva District (Harvard University Press, 1963)

Elias Lönnrot (trans. Eino Friberg), The Kalevala: Epic of the Finnish People (Otava Publishing, 1988)

Elias Lönnrot (trans. Keith Bosley), The Kalevala: An Epic Poem after Oral Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1989)

Kirsti Mäkinen, Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin, Kaarina Brooks, An Illustrated Kalevala: Myths and Legends from Finland (Floris Books, 2020)

Sami Makkonen, Kalevala: The Graphic Novel (Ablaze, 2024)

Juha Y. Pentikäinen (trans. Ritva Poom), Kalevala Mythology, (Indiana University Press, 1999)

Tina K. Ramnarine, Ilmatar?s Inspirations: Nationalism, Globalization and the Changing Soundscapes of Finnish Folk Music (University of Chicago Press, 2003) Jonathan Roper (ed.), Alliteration in Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), especially chapter 12 ?Alliteration in (Balto-) Finnic Languages? by Frog and Eila Stepanova

Karl Spracklen, Metal Music and the Re-imagining of Masculinity, Place, Race and Nation (Emerald Publishing, 2020), especially the chapter ?Finnish Folk Metal: Raising Drinking Horns in Mainstream Metal?

Leea Virtanen and Thomas A. DuBois, Finnish Folklore: Studia Fennica Folkloristica 9 (Finnish Literature Society, 2000)

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Julian the Apostate

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the last pagan ruler of the Roman Empire. Fifty years after Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and introduced a policy of tolerating the faith across the empire, Julian (c.331 - 363 AD) aimed to promote paganism instead, branding Constantine the worst of all his predecessors. Julian was a philosopher-emperor in the mould of Marcus Aurelius and was noted in his lifetime for his letters and his satires, and it was his surprising success as a general in his youth in Gaul that had propelled him to power barely twenty years after a rival had slaughtered his family. Julian's pagan mission and his life were brought to a sudden end while on campaign against the Sasanian Empire in the east, but he left so much written evidence of his ideas that he remains one of the most intriguing of all the Roman emperors and a hero to the humanists of the Enlightenment.


James Corke-Webster Reader in Classics, History and Liberal Arts at King?s College, London

Lea Niccolai Assistant Professor in Classics at the University of Cambridge and Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics, Trinity College


Shaun Tougher Professor of Late Roman and Byzantine History at Cardiff University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Polymnia Athanassiadi, Julian: An Intellectual Biography (first published 1981; Routledge, 2014)

Nicholas Baker-Brian and Shaun Tougher (eds.), Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate (Classical Press of Wales, 2012)

Nicholas Baker-Brian and Shaun Tougher (eds.), The Sons of Constantine, AD 337-361: In the Shadows of Constantine and Julian, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

G.W. Bowersock, Julian the Apostate (first published 1978; Harvard University Press, 1997)

Susanna Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (University of California Press, 2012)

Ari Finkelstein, The Specter of the Jews: Emperor Julian and the Rhetoric of Ethnicity in Syrian Antioch (University of California Press, 2018)

David Neal Greenwood, Julian and Christianity: Revisiting the Constantinian Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2021)

Lea Niccolai, Christianity, Philosophy, and Roman Power: Constantine, Julian, and the Bishops on Exegesis and Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2023)

Stefan Rebenich and Hans-Ulrich Wiemer (eds), A Companion to Julian the Apostate (Brill, 2020)

Rowland Smith, Julian?s Gods: Religion and Philosophy in the Thought and Action of Julian the Apostate (Routledge, 1995)

H.C. Teitler, The Last Pagan Emperor: Julian the Apostate and the War against Christianity (Oxford University Press, 2017)

Shaun Tougher, Julian the Apostate (Edinburgh University Press, 2007)

W. C. Wright, The Works of Emperor Julian of Rome (Loeb, 1913-23)

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The Waltz

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the dance which, from when it reached Britain in the early nineteenth century, revolutionised the relationship between music, literature and people here for the next hundred years. While it may seem formal now, it was the informality and daring that drove its popularity, with couples holding each other as they spun round a room to new lighter music popularised by Johann Strauss, father and son, such as The Blue Danube. Soon the Waltz expanded the creative world in poetry, ballet, novellas and music, from the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev to Moon River and Are You Lonesome Tonight.


Susan Jones Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford

Derek B. Scott Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Leeds


Theresa Buckland Emeritus Professor of Dance History and Ethnography at the University of Roehampton

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Egil Bakka, Theresa Jill Buckland, Helena Saarikoski, and Anne von Bibra Wharton (eds.), Waltzing Through Europe: Attitudes towards Couple Dances in the Long Nineteenth Century, (Open Book Publishers, 2020)

Theresa Jill Buckland, ?How the Waltz was Won: Transmutations and the Acquisition of Style in Early English Modern Ballroom Dancing. Part One: Waltzing Under Attack? (Dance Research, 36/1, 2018); ?Part Two: The Waltz Regained? (Dance Research, 36/2, 2018)

Theresa Jill Buckland, Society Dancing: Fashionable Bodies in England, 1870-1920 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

Erica Buurman, The Viennese Ballroom in the Age of Beethoven (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Paul Cooper, ?The Waltz in England, c. 1790-1820? (Paper presented at Early Dance Circle conference, 2018)

Sherril Dodds and Susan Cook (eds.), Bodies of Sound: Studies Across Popular Dance and Music (Ashgate, 2013), especially ?Dancing Out of Time: The Forgotten Boston of Edwardian England? by Theresa Jill Buckland

Zelda Fitzgerald, Save Me the Waltz (first published 1932; Vintage Classics, 2001)

Hilary French, Ballroom: A People's History of Dancing (Reaktion Books, 2022)

Susan Jones, Literature, Modernism, and Dance (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Mark Knowles, The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances: Outrage at Couple Dancing in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries (McFarland, 2009)

Rosamond Lehmann, Invitation to the Waltz (first published 1932; Virago, 2006)

Eric McKee, Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz: A Study of Dance-Music Relations in 3/4 Time (Indiana University Press, 2012)

Eduard Reeser, The History of the Walz (Continental Book Co., 1949)

Stanley Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Vol. 27 (Macmillan, 2nd ed., 2000), especially ?Waltz? by Andrew Lamb

Derek B. Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis: The 19th-Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris and Vienna (Oxford University Press, 2008), especially the chapter ?A Revolution on the Dance Floor, a Revolution in Musical Style: The Viennese Waltz?

Joseph Wechsberg, The Waltz Emperors: The Life and Times and Music of the Strauss Family (Putnam, 1973)

Cheryl A. Wilson, Literature and Dance in Nineteenth-century Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out (first published 1915; William Collins, 2013)

Virginia Woolf, The Years (first published 1937; Vintage Classics, 2016)

David Wyn Jones, The Strauss Dynasty and Habsburg Vienna (Cambridge University Press, 2023)

Sevin H. Yaraman, Revolving Embrace: The Waltz as Sex, Steps, and Sound (Pendragon Press, 2002)

Rishona Zimring, Social Dance and the Modernist Imagination in Interwar Britain (Ashgate Press, 2013)

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The Mokrani Revolt

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the revolt that broke out in 1871 in Algeria against French rule, spreading over hundreds of miles and countless towns and villages before being brutally suppressed. It began with the powerful Cheikh Mokrani and his family and was taken up by hundreds of thousands, becoming the last major revolt there before Algeria?s war of independence in 1954. In the wake of its swift suppression though came further waves of French migrants to settle on newly confiscated lands, themselves displaced by French defeat in Europe and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, and their arrival only increased tensions. The Mokrani Revolt came to be seen as a watershed between earlier Ottoman rule and full national identity, an inspiration to nationalists in the 1950s.


Natalya Benkhaled-Vince Associate Professor of the History of Modern France and the Francophone World, Fellow of University College, University of Oxford

Hannah-Louise Clark Senior Lecturer in Global Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow


Jim House Senior Lecturer in French and Francophone History at the University of Leeds

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Mahfoud Bennoune, The Making of Contemporary Algeria: 1830-1987 (Cambridge University Press, 1988)

Julia Clancy-Smith, Rebel and Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters, Algeria and Tunisia 1800?1904 (University of California Press, 1994)

Hannah-Louise Clark, ?The Islamic Origins of the French Colonial Welfare State: Hospital Finance in Algeria? (European Review of History, vol. 28, nos 5-6, 2021)

Hannah-Louise Clark, ?Of jinn theories and germ theories: translating microbes, bacteriological medicine, and Islamic law in Algeria? (Osiris, vol. 36, 2021)

Brock Cutler, Ecologies of Imperialism in Algeria (University of Nebraska Press, 2023)

Didier Guignard, 1871: L?Algérie sous Séquestre (CNRS Éditions, 2023)

Idir Hachi, ?Histoire social de l?insurrection de 1871 et du procès de ses chefs (PhD diss., University of Aix-Marseille, 2017)

Abdelhak Lahlou, Idir Hachi, Isabelle Guillaume, Amélie Gregório and Peter Dunwoodie, ?L'insurrection kabyle de 1871? (Etudes françaises volume 57, no 1, 2021)

James McDougall, A History of Algeria (Cambridge University Press (2017)

John Ruedy, Modern Algeria: The Origins and Development of a Nation (Indiana University Press, 2005, 2nd edition)

Jennifer E Sessions, By Sword and Plow: France and the Conquest of Algeria (Cornell University Press, 2011)

Samia Touati, ?Lalla Fatma N?Soumer, 1830?1863: Spirituality, Resistance and Womanly Leadership in Colonial Algeria (Societies vol. 8, no. 4, 2018)

Natalya Vince, Our Fighting Sisters: Nation, Memory and Gender in Algeria, 1954-2012 (Manchester University Press, 2015)

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Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the German physicist who, at the age of 23 and while still a student, effectively created quantum mechanics for which he later won the Nobel Prize. Werner Heisenberg made this breakthrough in a paper in 1925 when, rather than starting with an idea of where atomic particles were at any one time, he worked backwards from what he observed of atoms and their particles and the light they emitted, doing away with the idea of their continuous orbit of the nucleus and replacing this with equations. This was momentous and from this flowed what?s known as his Uncertainty Principle, the idea that, for example, you can accurately measure the position of an atomic particle or its momentum, but not both.


Fay Dowker Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London

Harry Cliff Research Fellow in Particle Physics at the University of Cambridge


Frank Close Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics and Fellow Emeritus at Exeter College at the University of Oxford

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Philip Ball, Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics Is Different (Vintage, 2018)

John Bell, ?Against 'measurement'? (Physics World, Vol 3, No 8, 1990)

Mara Beller, Quantum Dialogue: The Making of a Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2001)

David C. Cassidy, Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, And The Bomb (Bellevue Literary Press, 2010)

Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (first published 1958; Penguin Classics, 2000)

Carlo Rovelli, Helgoland: The Strange and Beautiful Story of Quantum Physics (Penguin, 2022)

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The Sack of Rome 1527

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the infamous assault of an army of the Holy Roman Emperor on the city of Rome in 1527. The troops soon broke through the walls of this holy city and, with their leader shot dead early on, they brought death and destruction to the city on an epic scale. Later writers compared it to the fall of Carthage or Jerusalem and soon the mass murder, torture, rape and looting were followed by disease which was worsened by starvation and opened graves. It has been called the end of the High Renaissance, a conflict between north and south, between Lutherans and Catholics, and a fulfilment of prophecy of divine vengeance and, perhaps more persuasively, a consequence of military leaders not feeding or paying their soldiers other than by looting.


Stephen Bowd Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Edinburgh

Jessica Goethals Associate Professor of Italian at the University of Alabama


Catherine Fletcher Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Stephen Bowd, Renaissance Mass Murder: Civilians and Soldiers during the Italian Wars (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Benvenuto Cellini, Autobiography (Penguin Classics, 1999)

Benvenuto Cellini (trans. Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella), My Life (Oxford University Press, 2009)

André Chastel (trans. Beth Archer), The Sack of Rome 1527 (Princeton University Press, 1983

Catherine Fletcher, The Beauty and the Terror: An Alternative History of the Italian Renaissance (Bodley Head, 2020)

Kenneth Gouwens and Sheryl E. Reiss (eds), The Pontificate of Clement VII: History, Politics, Culture (Routledge, 2005)

Francesco Guicciardini (trans. Sidney Alexander), The History of Italy (first published 1561; Princeton University Press, 2020)

Luigi Guicciardini (trans. James H. McGregor), The Sack of Rome (first published 1537; Italica Press, 2008)

Judith Hook, The Sack of Rome (2nd edition, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)

Geoffrey Parker, Emperor: A New Life of Charles V (Yale University Press, 2019)

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Lewis Carroll's book which first appeared in print in 1865 with illustrations by John Tenniel. It has since become one of the best known works in English, captivating readers who follow young Alice as she chases a white rabbit, pink eyed, in a waistcoat with pocket watch, down a rabbit hole that becomes a well and into wonderland. There she meets the Cheshire Cat, the Hatter, the March Hare, the Mock Turtle and more, all the while growing smaller and larger, finally outgrowing everyone at the trial of Who Stole the Tarts from the Queen of Hearts and exclaiming 'Who cares for you? You?re nothing but a pack of cards!'


Franziska Kohlt Leverhulme Research Fellow in the History of Science at the University of Leeds and the Inaugural Carrollian Fellow of the University of Southern California

Kiera Vaclavik Professor of Children?s Literature and Childhood Culture at Queen Mary, University of London


Robert Douglas-Fairhurst Professor of English Literature at Magdalen College, University of Oxford

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Kate Bailey and Simon Sladen (eds), Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser (V&A Publishing, 2021)

Gillian Beer, Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Will Brooker, Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll and Alice in Popular Culture (Continuum, 2004)

Humphrey Carpenter, Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children?s Literature (first published 1985; Faber and Faber, 2009)

Lewis Carroll (introduced by Martin Gardner), The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition, (W. W. Norton & Company, 2000)

Gavin Delahunty and Christoph Benjamin Schulz (eds), Alice in Wonderland Through the Visual Arts (Tate Publishing, 2011)

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland (Harvill Secker, 2015)

Colleen Hill, Fairy Tale Fashion (Yale University Press, 2016)

Franziska Kohlt, Alice through the Wonderglass: The Surprising Histories of a Children's Classic (Reaktion, forthcoming 2025) Franziska Kohlt and Justine Houyaux (eds.), Alice: Through the Looking-Glass: A Companion (Peter Lang, forthcoming 2024)

Charlie Lovett, Lewis Carroll: Formed by Faith (University of Virginia Press, 2022)

Elizabeth Sewell, The Field of Nonsense (first published 1952; Dalkey Archive Press, 2016)

Kiera Vaclavik, 'Listening to the Alice books' (Journal of Victorian Culture, Volume 26, Issue 1, January 2021)

Diane Waggoner, Lewis Carroll's Photography and Modern Childhood (Princeton University Press 2020)

Edward Wakeling, The Man and his Circle (IB Tauris, 2014)

Edward Wakeling, The Photographs of Lewis Carroll: A Catalogue Raisonné (University of Texas Press, 2015)

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss some of the chemical signals coursing through our bodies throughout our lives, produced in separate areas and spreading via the bloodstream. We call these 'hormones' and we produce more than 80 of them of which the best known are arguably oestrogen, testosterone, adrenalin, insulin and cortisol. On the whole hormones operate without us being immediately conscious of them as their goal is homeostasis, maintaining the levels of everything in the body as required without us having to think about them first. Their actions are vital for our health and wellbeing and influence many different aspects of the way our bodies work.


Sadaf Farooqi Professor of Metabolism and Medicine at the University of Cambridge

Rebecca Reynolds Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Edinburgh


Andrew Bicknell Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading

Produced by Victoria Brignell

Reading list:

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (first published 1962; Penguin Classics, 2000)

Stephen Nussey and Saffron Whitehead, Endocrinology: An Integrated Approach (BIOS Scientific Publishers; 2001)

Aylinr Y. Yilmaz, Comprehensive Introduction to Endocrinology for Novices (Independently published, 2023)

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The Hanseatic League

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Hanseatic League or Hansa which dominated North European trade in the medieval period. With a trading network that stretched from Iceland to Novgorod via London and Bruges, these German-speaking Hansa merchants benefitted from tax exemptions and monopolies. Over time, the Hansa became immensely influential as rulers felt the need to treat it well. Kings and princes sometimes relied on loans from the Hansa to finance their wars and an embargo by the Hansa could lead to famine. Eventually, though, the Hansa went into decline with the rise in the nation state?s power, greater competition from other merchants and the development of trade across the Atlantic.


Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Amsterdam

Georg Christ Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern History at the University of Manchester


Sheilagh Ogilvie Chichele Professor of Economic History at All Souls College, University of Oxford

Producer: Victoria Brignell

Reading list:

James S. Amelang and Siegfried Beer, Public Power in Europe: Studies in Historical Transformations (Plus-Pisa University Press, 2006), especially `Trade and Politics in the Medieval Baltic: English Merchants and England?s Relations to the Hanseatic League 1370?1437`

Nicholas R. Amor, Late Medieval Ipswich: Trade and Industry (Boydell & Brewer, 2011)

B. Ayers, The German Ocean: Medieval Europe around the North Sea (Equinox, 2016)

H. Brand and P. Brood, The German Hanse in Past & Present Europe: A medieval league as a model for modern interregional cooperation? (Castel International Publishers, 2007)

Wendy R. Childs, The Trade and Shipping of Hull, 1300-1500 (East Yorkshire Local History Society, 1990)

Alexander Cowan, Hanseatic League: Oxford Bibliographies (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Philippe Dollinger, The German Hansa (Macmillan, 1970)

John D. Fudge, Cargoes, Embargoes and Emissaries: The Commercial and Political Interaction of England and the German Hanse, 1450-1510 (University of Toronto Press, 1995)

Donald J. Harreld, A Companion to the Hanseatic League (Brill, 2015)

T.H. Lloyd, England and the German Hanse, 1157 ? 1611: A Study of their Trade and Commercial Diplomacy (first published 1991; Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Giampiero Nigro (ed.), Maritime networks as a factor in European integration (Fondazione Istituto Internazionale Di Storia Economica ?F. Datini? Prato, University of Firenze, 2019), especially ?Maritime Networks and Premodern Conflict Management on Multiple Levels. The Example of Danzig and the Giese Family? by Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

Sheilagh Ogilvie, Institutions and European Trade: Merchant Guilds, 1000-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Paul Richards (ed.), Six Essays in Hanseatic History (Poppyland Publishing, 2017)

Paul Richards, King?s Lynn and The German Hanse 1250-1550: A Study in Anglo-German Medieval Trade and Politics (Poppyland Publishing, 2022)

Stephen H. Rigby, The Overseas Trade of Boston, 1279-1548 (Böhlau Verlag, 2023)

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz and Stuart Jenks (eds.), The Hanse in Medieval & Early Modern Europe (Brill, 2012) Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz, ?The late medieval and early modern Hanse as an institution of conflict management? (Continuity and Change 32/1, Cambridge University Press, 2017)

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea that some kind of consciousness is present not just in our human brains but throughout the universe, right down to cells or even electrons. This is panpsychism and its proponents argue it offers a compelling alternative to those who say we are nothing but matter, like machines, and to those who say we are both matter and something else we might call soul. It is a third way. Critics argue panpsychism is implausible, an example of how not to approach this problem, yet interest has been growing widely in recent decades partly for the idea itself and partly in the broader context of understanding how consciousness arises.


Tim Crane Professor of Philosophy and Pro-Rector at the Central European University Director of Research, FWF Cluster of Excellence, Knowledge in Crisis

Joanna Leidenhag, Associate Professor in Theology and Philosophy at the University of Leeds


Philip Goff Professor of Philosophy at Durham University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Anthony Freeman (ed.), Consciousness and Its Place in Nature: Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism? (Imprint Academic, 2006), especially 'Realistic Monism' by Galen Strawson

Philip Goff, Galileo's Error: Foundations for A New Science of Consciousness (Pantheon, 2019)

Philip Goff, Why? The Purpose of the Universe (Oxford University Press, 2023)

David Ray Griffin, Unsnarling the World-Knot: Consciousness, Freedom and the Mind-Body Problem (Wipf & Stock, 2008)

Joanna Leidenhag, Minding Creation: Theological Panpsychism and the Doctrine of Creation (Bloomsbury, 2021)

Joanna Leidenhag, ?Panpsychism and God? (Philosophy Compass Vol 17, Is 12, e12889)

Hedda Hassel Mørch, Non-physicalist Theories of Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, 2024)

Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (Cambridge University Press, 2012), especially the chapter 'Panpsychism'

David Skrbina, Panpsychism in the West (MIT Press, 2007) James van Cleve, 'Mind-Dust or Magic? Panpsychism versus Emergence' (Philosophical Perspectives Vol. 4, Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind, Ridgeview Publishing Company, 1990)

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the woman who inspired one of the best known artefacts from ancient Egypt. The Bust of Nefertiti is multicoloured and symmetrical, about 49cm/18" high and, despite the missing left eye, still holds the gaze of onlookers below its tall, blue, flat topped headdress. Its discovery in 1912 in Amarna was kept quiet at first but its display in Berlin in the 1920s caused a sensation, with replicas sent out across the world. Ever since, as with Tutankhamun perhaps, the concrete facts about Nefertiti herself have barely kept up with the theories, the legends and the speculation, reinvigorated with each new discovery.


Aidan Dodson Honorary Professor of Egyptology at the University of Bristol

Joyce Tyldesley Professor of Egyptology at the University of Manchester


Kate Spence Senior Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Emmanuel College

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Dorothea Arnold (ed.), The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996) Norman de Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of el-Amarna (6 vols. Egypt Exploration Society, 1903-1908) Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb and the Egyptian Counter-reformation. (American University in Cairo Press, 2009 Aidan Dodson, Nefertiti, Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt: her life and afterlife (American University in Cairo Press, 2020)

Aidan Dodson, Tutankhamun: King of Egypt: his life and afterlife (American University in Cairo Press, 2022)

Barry Kemp, The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and Its People (Thames and Hudson, 2012)

Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt (Routledge, 2002)

Friederike Seyfried (ed.), In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery (A?gyptisches Museum und Papyrussamlung Staatlich Museen zu Berlin/ Michael Imhof Verlag, 2013)

Joyce Tyldesley, Tutankhamun: Pharaoh, Icon, Enigma (Headline, 2022)

Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti?s Face: The Creation of an Icon (Profile Books, 2018)

Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti: Egypt?s Sun Queen (Viking, 1998)

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-94), known as the Last of the Philosophes, the intellectuals in the French Enlightenment who sought to apply their learning to solving the problems of their world. He became a passionate believer in the progress of society, an advocate for equal rights for women and the abolition of the slave trade and for representative government. The French Revolution gave him a chance to advance those ideas and, while the Terror brought his life to an end, his wife Sophie de Grouchy 91764-1822) ensured his influence into the next century and beyond.


Rachel Hammersley Professor of Intellectual History at Newcastle University

Richard Whatmore Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Co-Director of the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual History


Tom Hopkins Senior Teaching Associate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Selwyn College

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Keith Michael Baker, Condorcet: From Natural Philosophy to Social Mathematics (University of Chicago Press, 1974)

Keith Michael Baker, ?On Condorcet?s Sketch? (Daedalus, summer 2004)

Lorraine Daston, ?Condorcet and the Meaning of Enlightenment? (Proceedings of the British Academy, 2009)

Dan Edelstein, The Enlightenment: A Genealogy (Chicago University Press, 2010)

Mark Goldie and Robert Wokler (eds), The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2006), especially ?Ideology and the Origins of Social Science? by Robert Wokler

Gary Kates, The Cercle Social, the Girondins, and the French Revolution (Princeton University Press, 1985)

Steven Lukes and Nadia Urbinati (eds.), Condorcet: Political Writings (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Kathleen McCrudden Illert, A Republic of Sympathy: Sophie de Grouchy's Politics and Philosophy, 1785-1815 (Cambridge University Press, 2024)

Iain McLean and Fiona Hewitt (eds.), Condorcet: Foundations of Social Choice and Political Theory (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, 1994)

Emma Rothschild, Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment, (Harvard University Press, 2001)

Richard Whatmore, The End of Enlightenment (Allen Lane, 2023)

David Williams, Condorcet and Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

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Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Shakespeare?s great comedies, which plays in the space between marriage, love and desire. By convention a wedding means a happy ending and here there are three, but neither Orsino nor Viola, Olivia nor Sebastian know much of each other?s true character and even the identities of the twins Viola and Sebastian have only just been revealed to their spouses to be. These twins gain some financial security but it is unclear what precisely the older Orsino and Olivia find enduringly attractive in the adolescent objects of their love. Meanwhile their hopes and illusions are framed by the fury of Malvolio, tricked into trusting his mistress Olivia loved him and who swears an undefined revenge on all those who mocked him.


Pascale Aebischer Professor of Shakespeare and Early Modern Performance Studies at the University of Exeter

Michael Dobson Professor of Shakespeare Studies and Director of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham


Emma Smith Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of Oxford

Produced by Simon Tillotson, Victoria Brignell and Luke Mulhall

Reading list:

C.L. Barber, Shakespeare?s Festive Comedies: A Study of Dramatic Form and Its Relation to Social Custom (first published 1959; Princeton University Press, 2011)

Simone Chess, ?Queer Residue: Boy Actors? Adult Careers in Early Modern England? (Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 19.4, 2020)

Callan Davies, What is a Playhouse? England at Play, 1520-1620 (Routledge, 2023)

Frances E. Dolan, Twelfth Night: Language and Writing (Bloomsbury, 2014)

John Drakakis (ed.), Alternative Shakespeares (Psychology Press, 2002), especially ?Disrupting Sexual Difference: Meaning and Gender in the Comedies? by Catherine Belsey

Bart van Es, Shakespeare?s Comedies: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Sonya Freeman Loftis, Mardy Philippian and Justin P. Shaw (eds.), Inclusive Shakespeares: Identity, Pedagogy, Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023), especially ??I am all the daughters of my father?s house, and all the brothers too?: Genderfluid Potentiality in As You Like It and Twelfth Night? by Eric Brinkman

Ezra Horbury, ?Transgender Reassessments of the Cross-Dressed Page in Shakespeare, Philaster, and The Honest Man?s Fortune? (Shakespeare Quarterly 73, 2022)

Jean Howard, ?Crossdressing, the theatre, and gender struggle in early modern England? (Shakespeare Quarterly 39, 1988)

Harry McCarthy, Boy Actors in Early Modern England: Skill and Stagecraft in the Theatre (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Stephen Orgel, Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England (Cambridge University Press, 1996)

William Shakespeare (eds. Michael Dobson and Molly Mahood), Twelfth Night (Penguin, 2005)

William Shakespeare (ed. Keir Elam), Twelfth Night (Arden Shakespeare, 2008)

Emma Smith, This is Shakespeare: How to Read the World's Greatest Playwright (Pelican, 2019)

Victoria Sparey, Shakespeare?s Adolescents: Age, Gender and the Body in Shakespearean Performance and Early Modern Culture (Manchester University Press, 2024)

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Vincent van Gogh

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Dutch artist famous for starry nights and sunflowers, self portraits and simple chairs. These are images known the world over, and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) painted them and around 900 others in the last decade of his short, brilliant life and, famously, in that lifetime he made only one recorded sale. Yet within a few decades after his death these extraordinary works, with all their colour and life, became the most desirable of all modern art, propelled in part by the story of Vincent van Gogh's struggle with mental health.


Christopher Riopelle The Neil Westreich Curator of Post 1800 Paintings at the National Gallery

Martin Bailey A leading Van Gogh specialist and correspondent for The Art Newspaper


Frances Fowle Professor of Nineteenth Century Art at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Curator at National Galleries Scotland

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Martin Bailey, Living with Vincent Van Gogh: The Homes and Landscapes that shared the Artist (White Lion Publishing, 2019)

Martin Bailey, Studio of the South: Van Gogh in Provence (Frances Lincoln, 2021)

Martin Bailey, Van Gogh?s Finale: Auvers and the Artist?s Rise to Fame (Frances Lincoln, 2021)

Nienke Bakker and Ella Hendriks, Van Gogh and the Sunflowers: A Masterpiece Examined (Van Gogh Museum, 2019)

Nienke Bakker, Emmanuel Coquery, Teio Meedendorp and Louis van Tilborgh (eds), Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise: His Final Months (Thames & Hudson, 2023)

Frances Fowle, Van Gogh's Twin: The Scottish Art Dealer Alexander Reid, 1854-1928 (National Galleries of Scotland, 2010)

Bregje Gerritse, The Potato Eaters: Van Gogh?s First Masterpiece (Van Gogh Museum, 2021)

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Van Gogh: The Life (Random House, 2012)

Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker (eds), Vincent van Gogh: The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2009)

Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker (eds), Vincent van Gogh, A Life in Letters (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2020)

Hans Luitjen, Jo van Gogh Bonger: The Woman who Made Vincent Famous Bloomsbury, 2022

Louis van Tilborgh, Martin Bailey, Karen Serres (ed.), Van Gogh Self-Portraits (Courtauld Institute, 2022)

Ingo F. Walther and Rainer Metzger, Van Gogh. The Complete Paintings (Taschen, 2022)

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Roman emperor Tiberius. When he was born in 42BC, there was little prospect of him ever becoming Emperor of Rome. Firstly, Rome was still a Republic and there had not yet been any Emperor so that had to change and, secondly, when his stepfather Augustus became Emperor there was no precedent for who should succeed him, if anyone. It somehow fell to Tiberius to develop this Roman imperial project and by some accounts he did this well, while to others his reign was marked by cruelty and paranoia inviting comparison with Nero.


Matthew Nicholls Senior Tutor at St. John?s College, University of Oxford

Shushma Malik Assistant Professor of Classics and Onassis Classics Fellow at Newnham College at the University of Cambridge


Catherine Steel Professor of Classics at the University of Glasgow

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Edward Champlin, ?Tiberius the Wise? (Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 57.4, 2008)

Alison E. Cooley, ?From the Augustan Principate to the invention of the Age of Augustus? (Journal of Roman Studies 109, 2019)

Alison E. Cooley, The Senatus Consultum de Cn. Pisone Patre: text, translation, and commentary (Cambridge University Press, 2023)

Eleanor Cowan, ?Tiberius and Augustus in Tiberian Sources? (Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 58.4, 2009)

Cassius Dio (trans. C. T. Mallan), Roman History: Books 57 and 58: The Reign of Tiberius (Oxford University Press, 2020)

Rebecca Edwards, ?Tacitus, Tiberius and Capri? (Latomus, 70.4, 2011)

A. Gibson (ed.), The Julio-Claudian Succession: Reality and Perception of the Augustan Model (Brill, 2012), especially ?Tiberius and the invention of succession? by C. Vout

Josephus (trans. E. Mary Smallwood and G. Williamson), The Jewish War (Penguin Classics, 1981)

Barbara Levick, Tiberius the Politician (Routledge, 1999)

E. O?Gorman, Tacitus? History of Political Effective Speech: Truth to Power (Bloomsbury, 2019)

Velleius Paterculus (trans. J. C. Yardley and Anthony A. Barrett), Roman History: From Romulus and the Foundation of Rome to the Reign of the Emperor Tiberius (Hackett Publishing, 2011)

R. Seager, Tiberius (2nd ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2005)

David Shotter, Tiberius Caesar (Routledge, 2005)

Suetonius (trans. Robert Graves), The Twelve Caesars (Penguin Classics, 2007)

Tacitus (trans. Michael Grant), The Annals of Imperial Rome (Penguin Classics, 2003)

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Karl Barth

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. Karl Barth (1886 - 1968) rejected the liberal theology of his time which, he argued, used the Bible and religion to help humans understand themselves rather than prepare them to open themselves to divine revelation. Barth's aim was to put God and especially Christ at the centre of Christianity. He was alarmed by what he saw as the dangers in a natural theology where God might be found in a rainbow or an opera by Wagner; for if you were open to finding God in German culture, you could also be open to accepting Hitler as God?s gift as many Germans did. Barth openly refused to accept Hitler's role in the Church in the 1930s on these theological grounds as well as moral, for which he was forced to leave Germany for his native Switzerland.


Stephen Plant Dean and Runcie Fellow at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge

Christiane Tietz Professor for Systematic Theology at the University of Zurich


Tom Greggs Marischal Professor of Divinity at the University of Aberdeen

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Karl Barth, God Here and Now (Routledge, 2003)

Karl Barth (trans. G. T. Thomson), Dogmatics in Outline (SCM Press, 1966)

Eberhard Busch (trans. John Bowden), Karl Barth: His Life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts (Grand Rapids, 1994)

George Hunsinger, How to Read Karl Barth: The Shape of His Theology (Oxford University Press, 1993)

Joseph L. Mangina, Karl Barth: Theologian of Christian Witness (Routledge, 2004)

Paul T. Nimmo, Karl Barth: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury, 2013)

Christiane Tietz, Karl Barth: A Life in Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2021)

John Webster, Karl Barth: Outstanding Christian Thinkers (Continuum, 2004)

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Edgar Allan Poe

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Poe (1809-1849), the American author who is famous for his Gothic tales of horror, madness and the dark interiors of the mind, such as The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell-Tale Heart. As well as tapping at our deepest fears in poems such as The Raven, Poe pioneered detective fiction with his character C. Auguste Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. After his early death, a rival rushed out a biography to try to destroy Poe's reputation but he has only become more famous over the years as a cultural icon as well as an author.


Bridget Bennett Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Leeds

Erin Forbes Senior Lecturer in 19th-century African American and US Literature at the University of Bristol


Tom Wright Reader in Rhetoric at the University of Sussex

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Peter Ackroyd, Poe: A Life Cut Short (Vintage, 2009)

Amy Branam Armiento and Travis Montgomery (eds.), Poe and Women: Recognition and Revision (Lehigh University Press, 2023)

Joan Dayan, Fables of Mind: An Inquiry into Poe's Fiction (Oxford University Press, 1987)

Erin Forbes, ?Edgar Allan Poe in the Great Dismal Swamp? (Modern Philology, 2016)

Kevin J. Hayes (ed.), Edgar Allan Poe in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

J. Gerald Kennedy and Scott Peeples (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Edgar Allan Poe (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Jill Lepore, 'The Humbug: Poe and the Economy of Horror' (The New Yorker, April 20, 2009)

Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark (Vintage, 1993)

Scott Peeples and Michelle Van Parys, The Man of the Crowd: Edgar Allan Poe and the City (Princeton University Press, 2020)

Edgar Allan Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe (Penguin, 2006)

Shawn Rosenhelm and Stephen Rachman (eds.), The American Face of Edgar Allan Poe (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)

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Marguerite de Navarre

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Marguerite, Queen of Navarre (1492 ? 1549), author of the Heptaméron, a major literary landmark in the French Renaissance. Published after her death, The Heptaméron features 72 short stories, many of which explore relations between the sexes. However, Marguerite?s life was more eventful than that of many writers. Born into the French nobility, she found herself the sister of the French king when her brother Francis I came to the throne in 1515. At a time of growing religious change, Marguerite was a leading exponent of reform in the Catholic Church and translated an early work of Martin Luther into French. As the Reformation progressed, she was not afraid to take risks to protect other reformers.


Sara Barker Associate Professor of Early Modern History and Director of the Centre for the Comparative History of Print at the University of Leeds

Emily Butterworth Professor of Early Modern French at King?s College London


Emma Herdman Lecturer in French at the University of St Andrews

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Giovanni Boccaccio (trans. Wayne A. Rebhorn), The Decameron (Norton, 2013)

Emily Butterworth, Marguerite de Navarre: A Critical Companion (Boydell &Brewer, 2022)

Patricia Cholakian and Rouben Cholakian, Marguerite de Navarre: Mother of the Renaissance (Columbia University Press, 2006)

Gary Ferguson, Mirroring Belief: Marguerite de Navarre?s Devotional Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 1992)

Gary Ferguson and Mary B. McKinley (eds.), A Companion to Marguerite de Navarre (Brill, 2013)

Mark Greengrass, The French Reformation (John Wiley & Sons, 1987)

R.J. Knecht, The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France (Fontana Press, 2008)

R.J. Knecht, Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

John D. Lyons and Mary B. McKinley (eds.), Critical Tales: New Studies of the ?Heptaméron? and Early Modern Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)

Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Paul Chilton), The Heptameron (Penguin, 2004)

Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Rouben Cholakian and Mary Skemp), Selected Writings: A Bilingual Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2008)

Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Hilda Dale), The Coach and The Triumph of the Lamb (Elm Press, 1999)

Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Hilda Dale), The Prisons (Whiteknights, 1989)

Marguerite de Navarre (ed. Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani), L?Heptaméron (Libraririe générale française, 1999)

Jonathan A. Reid, King?s Sister ? Queen of Dissent: Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549) and her Evangelical Network (Brill, 2009)

Paula Sommers, ?The Mirror and its Reflections: Marguerite de Navarre?s Biblical Feminism? (Tulsa Studies in Women?s Literature, 5, 1986)

Kathleen Wellman, Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France (Yale University Press, 2013)

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The Theory of the Leisure Class

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the most influential work of Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). In 1899, during America?s Gilded Age, Veblen wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class as a reminder that all that glisters is not gold. He picked on traits of the waning landed class of Americans and showed how the new moneyed class was adopting these in ways that led to greater waste throughout society. He called these conspicuous leisure and conspicuous consumption and he developed a critique of a system that favoured profits for owners without regard to social good. The Theory of the Leisure Class was a best seller and funded Veblen for the rest of his life, and his ideas influenced the New Deal of the 1930s. Since then, an item that becomes more desirable as it becomes more expensive is known as a Veblen good.


Matthew Watson Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick

Bill Waller Professor of Economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York


Mary Wrenn Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of the West of England

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Charles Camic, Veblen: The Making of an Economist who Unmade Economics (Harvard University Press, 2021)

John P. Diggins, Thorstein Veblen: Theorist of the Leisure Class (Princeton University Press, 1999)

John P. Diggins, The Bard of Savagery: Thorstein Veblen and Modern Social Theory (Seabury Press, 1978)

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (Penguin, 1999) Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers (Penguin, 2000), particularly the chapter ?The Savage Society of Thorstein Veblen?

Ken McCormick, Veblen in Plain English: A Complete Introduction to Thorstein Veblen?s Economics (Cambria Press, 2006)

Sidney Plotkin and Rick Tilman, The Political Ideas of Thorstein Veblen (Yale University Press, 2012)

Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need (William Morrow & Company, 1999)

Juliet B. Schor, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2005)

Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (first published 1899; Oxford University Press, 2009)

Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of Business Enterprise (first published 1904; Legare Street Press, 2022)

Thorstein Veblen, The Higher Learning in America (first published 2018; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015)

Thorstein Veblen, Absentee Ownership and Business Enterprise in Recent Times: The Case of America (first published 1923; Routledge, 2017)

Thorstein Veblen, Conspicuous Consumption (Penguin, 2005)

Thorstein Veblen, The Complete Works (Musaicum Books, 2017)

Charles J. Whalen (ed.), Institutional Economics: Perspective and Methods in Pursuit of a Better World (Routledge, 2021)

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The Barbary Corsairs

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the North African privateers who, until their demise in the nineteenth century, were a source of great pride and wealth in their home ports, where they sold the people and goods they?d seized from Christian European ships and coastal towns. Nominally, these corsairs were from Algiers, Tunis or Tripoli, outreaches of the Ottoman empire, or Salé in neighbouring Morocco, but often their Turkish or Arabic names concealed their European birth. Murad Reis the Younger, for example, who sacked Baltimore in 1631, was the Dutchman Jan Janszoon who also had a base on Lundy in the Bristol Channel. While the European crowns negotiated treaties to try to manage relations with the corsairs, they commonly viewed these sailors as pirates who were barely tolerated and, as soon as France, Britain, Spain and later America developed enough sea power, their ships and bases were destroyed.


Joanna Nolan Research Associate at SOAS, University of London

Claire Norton Former Associate Professor of History at St Mary?s University, Twickenham

And Michael Talbot Associate Professor in the History of the Ottoman Empire and the Modern Middle East at the University of Greenwich

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Robert C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)

Peter Earle, Corsairs of Malta and Barbary (Sidgwick and Jackson, 1970)

Des Ekin, The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates (O?Brien Press, 2008)

Jacques Heers, The Barbary Corsairs: Warfare in the Mediterranean, 1450-1580 (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018)

Colin Heywood, The Ottoman World: The Mediterranean and North Africa, 1660-1760 (Routledge, 2019)

Alan Jamieson, Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs (Reaktion Books, 2013)

Julie Kalman, The Kings of Algiers: How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World during the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond (Princeton University Press, 2023)

Stanley Lane-Poole, The Story of the Barbary Corsairs (T. Unwin, 1890)

Sally Magnusson, The Sealwoman?s Gift (A novel - Two Roads, 2018)

Philip Mansel, Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (John Murray, 2010)

Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (Columbia University Press, 1999)

Nabil Matar, Britain and Barbary, 1589-1689 (University Press of Florida, 2005)

Giles Milton, White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa?s One Million European Slaves (Hodder and Stoughton, 2004)

Claire Norton (ed.), Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other (Routledge, 2017)

Claire Norton, ?Lust, Greed, Torture and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern 'Renegade' (Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29/2, 2009)

Daniel Panzac, The Barbary Corsairs: The End of a Legend, 1800-1820 (Brill, 2005)

Rafael Sabatini, The Sea Hawk (a novel - Vintage Books, 2011)

Adrian Tinniswood, Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th century (Vintage Books, 2010)

D. Vitkus (ed.), Piracy, Slavery and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England (Columbia University Press, 2001)

J. M. White, Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Stanford University Press, 2018)

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Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristotle's ideas on what happiness means and how to live a good life. Aristotle (384-322BC) explored these almost two and a half thousand years ago in what became known as his Nicomachean Ethics. His audience then were the elite in Athens as, he argued, if they knew how to live their lives well then they could better rule the lives of others. While circumstances and values have changed across the centuries, Aristotle's approach to answering those questions has fascinated philosophers ever since and continues to do so.


Angie Hobbs Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield

Roger Crisp Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Professor of Moral Philosophy and Tutor in Philosophy at St Anne?s College, University of Oxford


Sophia Connell Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

J.L. Ackrill, Aristotle the Philosopher (Oxford University Press, 1981)

Aristotle (ed. and trans. Roger Crisp), Nicomachean Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Aristotle (trans. Terence Irwin), Nicomachean Ethics (Hackett Publishing Co., 2019) Aristotle (trans. H. Rackham), Nicomachean Ethics: Loeb Classical Library (William Heinemann Ltd, 1962)

Jonathan Barnes, Aristotle: Past Masters series (Oxford University Press, 1982)

Gerard J. Hughes, Routledge Guidebook to Aristotle?s Nicomachean Ethics (Routledge, 2013)

Richard Kraut (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005)

Michael Pakaluk, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2005)

A. Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics (University of California Press, 1981)

Nancy Sherman, The Fabric of Character: Aristotle's Theory of Virtue (Clarendon Press, 1989)

J.O. Urmson, Aristotle?s Ethics (John Wiley & Sons, 1988)

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Emile Zola's greatest literary success, his thirteenth novel in a series exploring the extended Rougon-Macquart family. The relative here is Etienne Lantier, already known to Zola?s readers as one of the blighted branch of the family tree and his story is set in Northern France. It opens with Etienne trudging towards a coalmine at night seeking work, and soon he is caught up in a bleak world in which starving families struggle and then strike, as they try to hold on to the last scraps of their humanity and the hope of change.


Susan Harrow Ashley Watkins Chair of French at the University of Bristol

Kate Griffiths Professor in French and Translation at Cardiff University


Edmund Birch Lecturer in French Literature and Director of Studies at Churchill College & Selwyn College, University of Cambridge

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

David Baguley, Naturalist Fiction: The Entropic Vision (Cambridge University Press, 1990)

William Burgwinkle, Nicholas Hammond and Emma Wilson (eds.), The Cambridge History of French Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2011), particularly ?Naturalism? by Nicholas White

Kate Griffiths, Emile Zola and the Artistry of Adaptation (Legenda, 2009)

Kate Griffiths and Andrew Watts, Adapting Nineteenth-Century France: Literature in Film, Theatre, Television, Radio, and Print (University of Wales Press, 2013)

Anna Gural-Migdal and Robert Singer (eds.), Zola and Film: Essays in the Art of Adaptation (McFarland & Co., 2005)

Susan Harrow, Zola, The Body Modern: Pressures and Prospects of Representation (Legenda, 2010)

F. W. J. Hemmings, The Life and Times of Emile Zola (first published 1977; Bloomsbury, 2013)

William Dean Howells, Emile Zola (The Floating Press, 2018)

Lida Maxwell, Public Trials: Burke, Zola, Arendt, and the Politics of Lost Causes (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Brian Nelson, Emile Zola: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2020)

Brian Nelson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Emile Zola (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Sandy Petrey, Realism and Revolution: Balzac, Stendhal, Zola, and the Performances of History (Cornell University Press, 1988)

Arthur Rose, ?Coal politics: receiving Emile Zola's Germinal? (Modern & contemporary France, 2021, Vol.29, 2)

Philip D. Walker, Emile Zola (Routledge, 1969)

Emile Zola (trans. Peter Collier), Germinal (Oxford University Press, 1993)

Emile Zola (trans. Roger Pearson), Germinal (Penguin Classics, 2004)

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Julian of Norwich

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the anchoress and mystic who, in the late fourteenth century, wrote about her visions of Christ suffering, in a work since known as Revelations of Divine Love. She is probably the first named woman writer in English, even if questions about her name and life remain open. Her account is an exploration of the meaning of her visions and is vivid and bold, both in its imagery and theology. From her confined cell in a Norwich parish church, in a land beset with plague, she dealt with the nature of sin and with the feminine side of God, and shared the message she received that God is love and, famously, that all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.


Katherine Lewis Professor of Medieval History at the University of Huddersfield

Philip Sheldrake Professor of Christian Spirituality at the Oblate School of Theology, Texas and Senior Research Associate of the Von Hugel Institute, University of Cambridge


Laura Kalas Senior Lecturer in Medieval English Literature at Swansea University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

John H. Arnold and Katherine Lewis (eds.), A Companion to the Book of Margery Kempe (D.S. Brewer, 2004)

Ritamary Bradley, Julian?s Way: A Practical Commentary on Julian of Norwich (Harper Collins, 1992)

E. Colledge and J. Walsh (eds.), Julian of Norwich: Showings (Classics of Western Spirituality series, Paulist Press, 1978)

Liz Herbert McAvoy (ed.), A Companion to Julian of Norwich (D.S. Brewer, 2008)

Liz Herbert McAvoy, Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe (D.S. Brewer, 2004)

Grace Jantzen, Julian of Norwich: Mystic and Theologian (new edition, Paulist Press, 2010)

Julian of Norwich (trans. Barry Windeatt), Revelations of Divine Love (Oxford World's Classics, 2015)

Julian of Norwich (ed. Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins), The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and a Revelation of Love, (Brepols, 2006)

Laura Kalas, Margery Kempe?s Spiritual Medicine: Suffering, Transformation and the Life-Course (D.S. Brewer, 2020)

Laura Kalas and Laura Varnam (eds.), Encountering the Book of Margery Kempe (Manchester University Press, 2021)

Laura Kalas and Roberta Magnani (eds.), Women in Christianity in the Medieval Age: 1000-1500 (Routledge, forthcoming 2024)

Ken Leech and Benedicta Ward (ed.), Julian the Solitary (SLG, 1998)

Denise Nowakowski Baker and Sarah Salih (ed.), Julian of Norwich?s Legacy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Joan M. Nuth, Wisdom?s Daughter: The Theology of Julian of Norwich (Crossroad Publishing, 1999)

Philip Sheldrake, Julian of Norwich: ?In God?s Sight?: Her Theology in Context (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019)

E. Spearing (ed.), Julian of Norwich: Revelations of Divine Love (Penguin Books, 1998)

Denys Turner, Julian of Norwich, Theologian (Yale University Press, 2011) Wolfgang Riehle, The Secret Within: Hermits, Recluses and Spiritual Outsiders in Medieval England (Cornell University Press, 2014)

Caroline Walker Bynum, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (University of California Press, 1982)

Ann Warren, Anchorites and their Patrons in Medieval England (University of California Press, 1985)

Hugh White (trans.), Ancrene Wisse: Guide for Anchoresses (Penguin Classics, 1993)

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The Federalist Papers

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay's essays written in 1787/8 in support of the new US Constitution. They published these anonymously in New York as 'Publius' but, when it became known that Hamilton and Madison were the main authors, the essays took on a new significance for all states. As those two men played a major part in drafting the Constitution itself, their essays have since informed debate over what the authors of that Constitution truly intended. To some, the essays have proved to be America?s greatest contribution to political thought.


Frank Cogliano Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh and Interim Saunders Director of the International Centre for Jefferson Studies at Monticello

Kathleen Burk Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History at University College London


Nicholas Guyatt Professor of North American History at the University of Cambridge

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Bernard Bailyn, To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders (Knopf, 2003)

Mary Sarah Bilder, Madison?s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention (Harvard University Press, 2015)

Noah Feldman, The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President (Random House, 2017)

Jonathan Gienapp, The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era (Harvard University Press, 2018)

Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison (eds. George W. Carey and James McClellan), The Federalist: The Gideon Edition (Liberty Fund, 2001)

Alison L. LaCroix, The Ideological Origins of American Federalism (Harvard University Press, 2010)

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, The Federalist Papers (Penguin, 1987)

Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (Simon and Schuster, 2010)

Michael I. Meyerson, Liberty's Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World (Basic Books, 2008)

Jack Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (Knopf, 1996)

Jack N. Rakove and Colleen A. Sheehan, The Cambridge Companion to The Federalist (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the tiny drifting organisms in the oceans that sustain the food chain for all the lifeforms in the water and so for the billions of people who, in turn, depend on the seas for their diet. In Earth's development, the plant-like ones among them, the phytoplankton, produced so much oxygen through photosynthesis that around half the oxygen we breathe today originated there. And each day as the sun rises, the animal ones, the zooplankton, sink to the depths of the seas to avoid predators in such density that they appear on ship sonars like a new seabed, only to rise again at night in the largest migration of life on this planet.


Carol Robinson Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of East Anglia

Abigail McQuatters-Gollop Associate Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of Plymouth


Christopher Lowe Lecturer in Marine Biology at Swansea University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Juli Berwald, Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone (Riverhead Books, 2018)

Sir Alister Hardy, The Open Sea: The World of Plankton (first published 1959; Collins New Naturalist Library, 2009)

Richard Kirby, Ocean Drifters: A Secret World Beneath the Waves (Studio Cactus Ltd, 2010)

Robert Kunzig, Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science (Sort Of Books, 2000)

Christian Sardet, Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World (University of Chicago Press, 2015)

Helen Scales, The Brilliant Abyss: True Tales of Exploring the Deep Sea, Discovering Hidden Life and Selling the Seabed (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2022)

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The Economic Consequences of the Peace

In an extended version of the programme that was broadcast, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the influential book John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1919 after he resigned in protest from his role at the Paris Peace Conference. There the victors of World War One were deciding the fate of the defeated, especially Germany and Austria-Hungary, and Keynes wanted the world to know his view that the economic consequences would be disastrous for all. Soon Germany used his book to support their claim that the Treaty was grossly unfair, a sentiment that fed into British appeasement in the 1930s and has since prompted debate over whether Keynes had only warned of disaster or somehow contributed to it.


Margaret MacMillan Emeritus Professor of International History at the University of Oxford

Michael Cox Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Founding Director of LSE IDEAS


Patricia Clavin Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman and Elisabeth Glaser (eds.), The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years (Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Zachary D. Carter, The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy and the Life of John Maynard Keynes (Random House, 2020)

Peter Clarke, Keynes: The Twentieth Century?s Most Influential Economist (Bloomsbury, 2009)

Patricia Clavin et al (eds.), Keynes?s Economic Consequences of the Peace after 100 Years: Polemics and Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2023)

Patricia Clavin, ?Britain and the Making of Global Order after 1919: The Ben Pimlott Memorial Lecture? (Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 31:3, 2020)

Richard Davenport-Hines, Universal Man; The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes (William Collins, 2015)

R. F. Harrod, John Maynard Keynes (first published 1951; Pelican, 1972)

Jens Holscher and Matthias Klaes (eds), Keynes?s Economic Consequences of the Peace: A Reappraisal (Pickering & Chatto, 2014)

John Maynard Keynes (with an introduction by Michael Cox), The Economic Consequences of the Peace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

Margaret MacMillan, Peacemakers: Six Months that Changed the World (John Murray Publishers, 2001)

Etienne Mantoux, The Carthaginian Peace or the Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes (Oxford University Press, 1946) D. E. Moggridge, Maynard Keynes: An Economist?s Biography (Routledge, 1992)

Alan Sharp, Versailles 1919: A Centennial Perspective (Haus Publishing Ltd, 2018)

Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946 (Pan Macmillan, 2004)

Jürgen Tampke, A Perfidious Distortion of History: The Versailles Peace Treaty and the Success of the Nazis (Scribe UK, 2017)

Adam Tooze, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 (Penguin Books, 2015)

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The Seventh Seal

In the 1000th edition of In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss arguably the most celebrated film of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). It begins with an image that, once seen, stays with you for the rest of your life: the figure of Death playing chess with a Crusader on the rocky Swedish shore. The release of this film in 1957 brought Bergman fame around the world. We see Antonius Block, the Crusader, realising he can?t beat Death but wanting to prolong this final game for one last act, without yet knowing what that act might be. As he goes on a journey through a plague ridden world, his meeting with a family of jesters and their baby offers him some kind of epiphany.


Jan Holmberg Director of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation, Stockholm

Claire Thomson Professor of Cinema History and Director of the School of European Languages, Culture and Society at University College London


Laura Hubner Professor of Film at the University of Winchester

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Alexander Ahndoril (trans. Sarah Death), The Director (Granta, 2008)

Ingmar Bergman (trans. Marianne Ruuth), Images: My Life in Film (Faber and Faber, 1995)

Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate), The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography (Viking, 1988)

Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate), The Best Intentions (Vintage, 2018)

Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate), Sunday?s Children (Vintage, 2018)

Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate), Private Confessions (Vintage, 2018)

Stig Björkman, Torsten Manns and Jonas Sima (trans. Paul Britten Austin), Bergman on Bergman: Interviews with Ingmar Bergman (Da Capo Press, 1993)

Melvyn Bragg, The Seventh Seal: BFI Film Classics (British Film Institute, 1993)

Paul Duncan and Bengt Wanselius (eds.), The Ingmar Bergman Archives (Taschen/Max Ström, 2018)

Erik Hedling (ed.), Ingmar Bergman: An Enduring Legacy (Lund University Press, 2021)

Laura Hubner, The Films of Ingmar Bergman: Illusions of Light and Darkness (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Daniel Humphrey, Queer Bergman: Sexuality, Gender, and the European Art Cinema (University of Texas Press, 2013)

Maaret Koskinen (ed.), Bergman Revisited: Performance, Cinema, and the Arts (Wallflower Press, 2008)

Selma Lagerlöf (trans. Peter Graves), The Phantom Carriage (Norvik Press, 2011)

Mariah Larsson and Anders Marklund (eds.), Swedish Film: An Introduction and Reader (Nordic Academic Press, 2010)

Paisley Livingston, Ingmar Bergman and the Rituals of Art (Cornell University Press, 2019)

Birgitta Steene (ed.), Focus on The Seventh Seal (Prentice Hall, 1972)

Birgitta Steene, Ingmar Bergman: A Reference Guide (Amsterdam University Press, 2014)

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Melvyn Bragg talks to Mishal Husain

To mark his 1000th episode of In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg talks to Mishal Husain for Radio 4's Today programme.

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Albert Einstein

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the man who, in 1905, produced several papers that were to change the world of physics and whose name went on to become a byword for genius. This was Albert Einstein, then still a technical expert at a Swiss patent office, and that year of 1905 became known as his annus mirabilis ('miraculous year'). While Einstein came from outside the academic world, some such as Max Planck championed his theory of special relativity, his principle of mass-energy equivalence that followed, and his explanations of Brownian Motion and the photoelectric effect. Yet it was not until 1919, when a solar eclipse proved his theory that gravity would bend light, that Einstein became an international celebrity and developed into an almost mythical figure.


Richard Staley Professor in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and Professor in History of Science at the University of Copenhagen

Diana Kormos Buchwald Robert M. Abbey Professor of History and Director and General Editor of The Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology


John Heilbron Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Reading list:

Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (first published 1971; HarperPaperbacks, 2011)

Albert Einstein (eds. Jurgen Renn and Hanoch Gutfreund), Relativity: The Special and the General Theory - 100th Anniversary Edition (Princeton University Press, 2019)

Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (first published 1950; Citadel Press, 1974)

Albert Einstein (ed. Paul A. Schilpp), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist: The Library of Living Philosophers Volume VII (first published 1949; Open Court, 1970)

Albert Einstein (eds. Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden), Einstein on Peace (first published 1981; Literary Licensing, 2011)

Albrecht Folsing, Albert Einstein: A Biography (Viking, 1997)

J. L. Heilbron, Niels Bohr: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2020)

Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon & Schuster, 2008)

Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion (Princeton University Press, 2002)

Michel Janssen and Christoph Lehner (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Einstein (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Dennis Overbye, Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance (Viking, 2000)

Abraham Pais, Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (Oxford University Press, 1982)

David E. Rowe and Robert Schulmann (eds.), Einstein on Politics: His Private Thoughts and Public Stands on Nationalism, Zionism, War, Peace, and the Bomb (Princeton University Press, 2007)

Matthew Stanley, Einstein's War: How Relativity Triumphed Amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I (Dutton, 2019)

Fritz Stern, Einstein?s German World (Princeton University Press, 1999)

A. Douglas Stone, Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian (Princeton University Press, 2013)

Milena Wazeck (trans. Geoffrey S. Koby), Einstein's Opponents: The Public Controversy About the Theory of Relativity in the 1920s (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

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Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, and it?s hard to imagine a world more alien and different from Earth. It?s known as a Gas Giant, and its diameter is eleven times the size of Earth?s: our planet would fit inside it one thousand three hundred times. But its mass is only three hundred and twenty times greater, suggesting that although Jupiter is much bigger than Earth, the stuff it?s made of is much, much lighter. When you look at it through a powerful telescope you see a mass of colourful bands and stripes: these are the tops of ferocious weather systems that tear around the planet, including the great Red Spot, probably the longest-lasting storm in the solar system. Jupiter is so enormous that it?s thought to have played an essential role in the distribution of matter as the solar system formed ? and it plays an important role in hoovering up astral debris that might otherwise rain down on Earth. It?s almost a mini solar system in its own right, with 95 moons orbiting around it. At least two of these are places life might possibly be found.


Michele Dougherty, Professor of Space Physics and Head of the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, and principle investigator of the magnetometer instrument on the JUICE spacecraft (JUICE is the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, a mission launched by the European Space Agency in April 2023)

Leigh Fletcher, Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester, and interdisciplinary scientist for JUICE

Carolin Crawford, Emeritus Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and Emeritus Member of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

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Elizabeth Anscombe

In 1956 Oxford University awarded an honorary degree to the former US president Harry S. Truman for his role in ending the Second World War. One philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe (1919 ? 2001), objected strongly.

She argued that although dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have ended the fighting, it amounted to the murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. It was therefore an irredeemably immoral act. And there was something fundamentally wrong with a moral philosophy that didn?t see that.

This was the starting point for a body of work that changed the terms in which philosophers discussed moral and ethical questions in the second half of the twentieth century.

A leading student of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Anscombe combined his insights with rejuvenated interpretations of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas that made these ancient figures speak to modern issues and concerns. Anscombe was also instrumental in making action, and the question of what it means to intend to do something, a leading area of philosophical work.


Rachael Wiseman, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool

Constantine Sandis, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, and Director of Lex Academic

Roger Teichmann, Lecturer in Philosophy at St Hilda?s College, University of Oxford

Producer: Luke Mulhall

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Death in Venice

Death in Venice is Thomas Mann?s most famous ? and infamous - novella. Published in 1912, it?s about the fall of the repressed writer Gustav von Aschenbach, when his supposedly objective appreciation of a young boy?s beauty becomes sexual obsession. It explores the link between creativity and self-destruction, and by the end Aschenbach?s humiliation is complete, dying on a deckchair in the act of ogling. Aschenbach's stalking of the boy and dreaming of pederasty can appal modern readers, even more than Mann expected.


Karolina Watroba, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Modern Languages at All Souls College, University of Oxford

Erica Wickerson, a Former Research Fellow at St Johns College, University of Cambridge

Sean Williams, Senior Lecturer in German and European Cultural History at the University of Sheffield

Sean Williams' series of Radio 3's The Essay, Death in Trieste, can be found here:

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Oedipus Rex

Sophocles? play Oedipus Rex begins with a warning: the murderer of the old king of Thebes, Laius, has never been identified or caught, and he?s still at large in the city. Oedipus is the current king of Thebes, and he sets out to solve the crime.

His investigations lead to a devastating conclusion. Not only is Oedipus himself the killer, but Laius was his father, and Laius? wife Jocasta, who Oedipus has married, is his mother.

Oedipus Rex was composed during the golden age of Athens, in the 5th century BC. Sophocles probably wrote it to explore the dynamics of power in an undemocratic society. It has unsettled audiences from the very start: it is the only one of Sophocles? plays that didn?t win first prize at Athens? annual drama festival. But it?s had exceptionally good write-ups from the critics: Aristotle called it the greatest example of the dramatic arts. Freud believed it laid bare the deepest structures of human desire.


Nick Lowe, Reader in Classical Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London

Fiona Macintosh, Professor of Classical Reception and Fellow of St Hilda?s College at the University of Oxford

Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at Durham University

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the power-packs within cells in all complex life on Earth.

Inside each cell of every complex organism there are structures known as mitochondria. The 19th century scientists who first observed them thought they were bacteria which had somehow invaded the cells they were studying. We now understand that mitochondria take components from the food we eat and convert them into energy.

Mitochondria are essential for complex life, but as the components that run our metabolisms they can also be responsible for a range of diseases ? and they probably play a role in how we age. The DNA in mitochondria is only passed down the maternal line. This means it can be used to trace population movements deep into human history, even back to an ancestor we all share: mitochondrial Eve.


Mike Murphy Professor of Mitochondrial Redox Biology at the University of Cambridge

Florencia Camus NERC Independent Research Fellow at University College London


Nick Lane Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry at University College London

Producer Luke Mulhall

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Louis XIV: The Sun King

In 1661 the 23 year-old French king Louis the XIV had been on the throne for 18 years when his chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin, died. Louis is reported to have said to his ministers, ?It is now time that I govern my affairs myself. You will assist me with your counsels when I ask for them [but] I order you to seal no orders except by my command? I order you not to sign anything, not even a passport, without my command, and to render account to me personally each day?

So began the personal rule of Louis XIV, which lasted a further 54 years until his death in 1715. From his newly-built palace at Versailles, Louis was able to project an image of himself as the centre of gravity around which all of France revolved: it?s no accident that he became known as the Sun King. He centralized power to the extent he was able to say ?L?etat c?est moi?: I am the state. Under his rule France became the leading diplomatic, military and cultural power in Europe.


Catriona Seth Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature at the University of Oxford

Guy Rowlands Professor of Early Modern History at the University of St Andrews


Penny Roberts Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Warwick

Producer: Luke Mulhall

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Virgil's Georgics

In the year 29 BC the great Roman poet Virgil published these lines: Blessed is he who has succeeded in learning the laws of nature?s working, has cast beneath his feet all fear and fate?s implacable decree, and the howl of insatiable Death. But happy too is he who knows the rural gods?

They?re from his poem the Georgics, a detailed account of farming life in the Italy of the time. ?Georgics? means ?agricultural things?, and it?s often been read as a farming manual. But it was written at a moment when the Roman world was emerging from a period of civil war, and questions of land ownership and management were heavily contested. It?s also a philosophical reflection on humanity?s relationship with the natural world, the ravages of time, and the politics of Virgil?s day.

It?s exerted a profound influence on European writing about agriculture and rural life, and has much to offer environmental thinking today.


Katharine Earnshaw Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter;

Neville Morley Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter


Diana Spencer Professor of Classics at the University of Birmingham

Producer: Luke Mulhall

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The Shimabara Rebellion

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Christian uprising in Japan and its profound and long-term consequences.

In the 1630s, Japan was ruled by the Tokagawa Shoguns, a military dynasty who, 30 years earlier, had unified the country, ending around two centuries of civil war. In 1637 a rebellion broke out in the province of Shimabara, in the south of the country. It was a peasants? revolt, following years of bad harvests in which the local lord had refused to lower taxes. Many of the rebels were Christians, and they fought under a Christian banner.

The central government?s response was merciless. They met the rebels with an army of 150 000 men, possibly the largest force assembled anywhere in the world during the Early Modern period. Once the rebellion had been suppressed, the Shogun enforced a ban on Christianity and expelled nearly all foreigners from the country. Japan remained more or less completely sealed off from the rest of the world for the next 250 years.


Satona Suzuki Lecturer in Japanese and Modern Japanese History at SOAS, University of London

Erica Baffelli Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester


Christopher Harding Senior Lecturer in Asian History at the University of Edinburgh

Producer Luke Mulhall

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the revelatory collection of Biblical texts, legal documents, community rules and literary writings.

In 1946 a Bedouin shepherd boy was looking for a goat he?d lost in the hills above the Dead Sea. He threw a rock into a cave and heard a hollow sound. He?d hit a ceramic jar containing an ancient manuscript. This was the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of about a thousand texts dating from around 250 BC to AD 68. It is the most substantial first hand evidence we have for the beliefs and practices of Judaism in and around the lifetime of Jesus.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have transformed our understanding of how the texts that make up the Hebrew Bible were edited and collected. They also offer a tantalising window onto the world from which Christianity eventually emerged.


Sarah Pearce Ian Karten Professor of Jewish Studies and Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Southampton

Charlotte Hempel Professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the University of Birmingham


George Brooke Rylands Professor Emeritus of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester

Producer Luke Mulhall

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Walt Whitman

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the highly influential American poet Walt Whitman.

In 1855 Whitman was working as a printer, journalist and property developer when he published his first collection of poetry. It began:

I celebrate myself, And what I assume you shall assume For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

The book was called Leaves of Grass. In it, Whitman set out to break away from European literary forms and traditions. Using long lines written in free verse, he developed a poetry meant to express a distinctively American outlook.

Leaves of Grass is full of verse that celebrates both the sovereign individual, and the deep fellowship between individuals. Its optimism about the American experience was challenged by the Civil War and its aftermath, but Whitman emerged as a celebrity and a key figure in the development of American culture.


Sarah Churchwell Professor of American Literature and the Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London

Peter Riley Lecturer in 19th Century American Literature at the University of Exeter and

Mark Ford Professor of English and American Literature at University College London

Producer Luke Mulhall

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life, ideas and legacy of the pioneering Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707 ? 1778). The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once wrote: "Tell him I know no greater man on earth".

The son of a parson, Linnaeus grew up in an impoverished part of Sweden but managed to gain a place at university. He went on to transform biology by making two major innovations. He devised a simpler method of naming species and he developed a new system for classifying plants and animals, a system that became known as the Linnaean hierarchy. He was also one of the first people to grow a banana in Europe.


Staffan Muller-Wille University Lecturer in History of Life, Human and Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge

Stella Sandford Professor of Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London


Steve Jones Senior Research Fellow in Genetics at University College, London

Producer Luke Mulhall

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The Battle of Crécy

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the brutal events of 26 August 1346, when the armies of France and England met in a funnel-shaped valley outside the town of Crécy in northern France.

Although the French, led by Philip VI, massively outnumbered the English, under the command of Edward III, the English won the battle, and French casualties were huge. The English victory is often attributed to the success of their longbowmen against the heavy cavalry of the French.

The Battle of Crécy was the result of years of simmering tension between Edward III and Philip VI, and it led to decades of further conflict between England and France, a conflict that came to be known as the Hundred Years War.


Anne Curry Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Southampton

Andrew Ayton Senior Research Fellow in History at Keele University

and Erika Graham-Goering Lecturer in Late Medieval History at Durham University

Producer Luke Mulhall

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Danish prince who became a very effective King of England in 1016.

Cnut inherited a kingdom in a sorry state. The north and east coast had been harried by Viking raiders, and his predecessor King Æthelred II had struggled to maintain order amongst the Anglo-Saxon nobility too. Cnut proved to be skilful ruler. Not only did he bring stability and order to the kingdom, he exported the Anglo-Saxon style of centralised government to Denmark. Under Cnut, England became the cosmopolitan centre of a multi-national North Atlantic Empire, and a major player in European politics.


Erin Goeres Associate Professor of Old Norse Language and Literature at University College London

Pragya Vohra Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of York


Elizabeth Tyler Professor of Medieval Literature and Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York

Producer Luke Mulhall

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A Room of One's Own

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Virginia Woolf's highly influential essay on women and literature, which considers both literary history and future opportunity.

In 1928 Woolf gave two lectures at Cambridge University about women and fiction. In front of an audience at Newnham College, she delivered the following words: ?All I could do was offer you an opinion upon one minor point - a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved?.

These lectures formed the basis of a book she published the following year, and Woolf chose A Room Of One?s Own for its title. It is a text that set the scene for the study of women?s writing for the rest of the 20th century. Arguably, it initiated the discipline of women?s history too.


Hermione Lee Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford

Michele Barrett Emeritus Professor of Modern Literary and Cultural Theory at Queen Mary, University of London


Alexandra Harris Professor of English at the University of Birmingham

Producer Luke Mulhall

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Solon the Lawgiver

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Solon, who was elected archon or chief magistrate of Athens in 594 BC: some see him as the father of Athenian democracy.

In the first years of the 6th century BC, the city state of Athens was in crisis. The lower orders of society were ravaged by debt, to the point where some were being forced into slavery. An oppressive law code mandated the death penalty for everything from murder to petty theft. There was a real danger that the city could fall into either tyranny or civil war.

Solon instituted a programme of reforms that transformed Athens? political and legal systems, its society and economy, so that later generations referred to him as Solon the Lawgiver.


Melissa Lane Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University

Hans van Wees Grote Professor of Ancient History at University College London

and William Allan Professor of Greek and McConnell Laing Tutorial Fellow in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature at University College, University of Oxford

Producer Luke Mulhall

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how, between the 16th and 18th centuries, Europe was dominated by an economic way of thinking called mercantilism. The key idea was that exports should be as high as possible and imports minimised.

For more than 300 years, almost every ruler and political thinker was a mercantilist. Eventually, economists including Adam Smith, in his ground-breaking work of 1776 The Wealth of Nations, declared that mercantilism was a flawed concept and it became discredited. However, a mercantilist economic approach can still be found in modern times and today?s politicians sometimes still use rhetoric related to mercantilism.


D?Maris Coffman Professor in Economics and Finance of the Built Environment at University College London Craig Muldrew Professor of Social and Economic History at the University of Cambridge and a Member of Queens? College


Helen Paul, Lecturer in Economics and Economic History at the University of Southampton.

Producer Luke Mulhall

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The Ramayana

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Ramayana, the ancient Hindu epic which is regarded as one of the greatest works of world literature. Its importance in Indian culture has been compared to that of the Iliad and Odyssey in the West, and it?s still seen as a sacred text by Hindus today.

Written in Sanskrit, it tells the story of the legendary prince and princess Rama and Sita, and the many challenges, misfortunes and choices that they face. About 24,000 verses long, the Ramayana is also one of the longest ancient epics. It?s a text that?s been hugely influential and it continues to be popular in India and elsewhere in Asia. With

Jessica Frazier Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad Distinguished Professor of Comparative Religion and Philosophy at Lancaster University


Naomi Appleton Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Edinburgh

The image above shows Rama, Sita, Hanuman, Lakshmana and devotees, from the Shree Jalaram Prarthana Mandal, Leicester.

Producer Luke Mulhall

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss megaliths - huge stones placed in the landscape, often visually striking and highly prominent.

Such stone monuments in Britain and Ireland mostly date from the Neolithic period, and the most ancient are up to 6,000 years old. In recent decades, scientific advances have enabled archaeologists to learn a large amount about megalithic structures and the people who built them, but much about these stones remains unknown and mysterious.


Vicki Cummings Professor of Neolithic Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire

Julian Thomas Professor of Archaeology at the University of Manchester


Susan Greaney Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Exeter.

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