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Primrose Hill Lectures 2013: Available online







2013 Programme

This talk has now taken place but has been recorded for you to listen for free. The Lecture Series is a fundraising event for St Mary’s and you can help support it by making a donation

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Jonathan Fenby The New China  7.30pm, Wednesday 5 June

Jonathan Fenby CBE is one of our most distinguished journalists and a leading commentator on Chinese affairs. A former editor of Reuters World Service and The Observer, he edited The South China Morning Post in the crucial period spanning the handover of Hong Kong. Fenby has written six books on China including Penguin’s History of Modern China (2009) and broadcasts frequently on BBC and CNBC. His new book, Tiger Head, Snake Tails: China today, how it got there and where it is going advances the argument with a timely portrait of the emergent superpower. “For all its economic and social progress”, he explains, “ China’s political system remains a top-down autocracy dating back more than 200 years… The truth is China is not going to collapse, but neither is it going to rule the world.”

Sandy Nairne Art Theft 7.30pm, Wednesday 12 June

Sandy Nairne CBE FSA is Director of the National Portrait Gallery and a vigorous champion of the visual arts in Britain. He has previously worked at the Institute of Contemporary Art, The Arts Council, The Tate, Tate Modern and Tate Britain and is the author of State of the Art and Thinking About Exhibitions. In 1994, Nairne was Director of Programmes at the Tate when two masterpieces owned by the nation were stolen from the museum while on loan in Frankfurt. His 2011 book Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners chronicles his eight year quest to obtain the return of the pictures. The Hollywood cliché of ‘gentleman thieves’ is shattered by Nairne’s account. “Most art is stolen by organised crime with connections to an underworld of drugs, prostitution and gun running.” he reveals. “ It is something that must be prevented and countered from every angle.”

Tracy Chevalier Voicing the Past 7.30pm, Wednesday 19 June

Tracy Chevalier is a best selling historical novelist. Her second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, sold 4 million copies worldwide and is translated into 39 languages. Chevalier, a native of Washington DC who lives and works in North London, writes about the past because “taking the long view makes us understand better how we fit into the world”. Her subjects to date include Vermeer, William Blake and Mary Anning. Her seventh novel, The Last Runaway, is the first with an American setting and brings to life the experience of 19th century Quakers active in the abolitionist movement. “You have to find a way to honour the facts and yet also satisfy the storytelling.” she says. “Sometimes that means not bending the truth, but moulding the truth into a kind of sculpture people can look at.”


Susan Greenfield Future of Identity 7.30pm, Wednesday 26 June

Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE,is Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford University and a leading specialist in neurogenerative disease. A prolific writer and broadcaster, Greenfield is on a mission to popularise neuroscience. Her 2002 book Tomorrow’s People explored the mind-altering effects of the 21st century environment. Her latest publication 2121: A Story for the 22nd Century is a radical departure into science fiction, a dystopian vision of humanity dependent on extreme technology. “Mind change is an issue as important as climate change.” warns Greenfield. “The concept of identity has long been a favourite with philosophers and avoided by scientists. I’m interested in how new technology might be changing the way we think and feel. What kind of person will the next generation of people be?”


Iain McGilchrist The Divided Brain 7.30pm, Tuesday 2 July

Iain McGilchrist FRCP is a psychiatrist and writer committed to understanding the human mind in its broadest possible context. A former teacher of English literature, he has extensive clinical experience in the fields of depression, psychosis, personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. McGilchrist’s widely acclaimed book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (2010) examines the shifting relation between our two brain hemispheres and its effect on the history of ideas, provoking the question “Why are we so unhappy?” “The encouragement of precise categorical thinking at the expense of vision and experience distorts our lives.” he argues. “The hemispheric divide makes possible two takes on the world. We need constantly to combine them.”