england

Rachel Kadish’s new novel The Weight of Ink is set in London. It is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect – one an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; the other an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

When Prince Harry of Wales took his American girlfriend, Meghan Markle, to have tea with his grandmother the queen, avid royal watchers had a hunch that a royal wedding was not far off. That prediction came true on November 27, 2017, when the twosome announced their engagement to the world. As they prepare to tie the knot in a stunning ceremony on May 19, 2018, that will be unprecedented in royal history, people are clamoring to know more about the beautiful American who captured Prince Harry’s heart.

In "American Princess," Leslie Carroll provides context to Harry and Meghan’s romance by leading readers through centuries of Britain’s rule-breaking royal marriages.

Thomas E. Ricks is an adviser on national security at the New America Foundation, where he participates in its "Future of War" project. He was previously a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the prizewinning blog The Best Defense. A member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, he covered U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

His newest book, "Churchill and Orwell: The Fight For Freedom," is now available in paperback.

Both George Orwell and Winston Churchill came close to death in the mid-1930's and if they'd died then, history would scarcely remember them. At the time, Churchill was a politician on the outs and Orwell was a mildly successful novelist. No one would have predicted that by the end of the 20th century they would be considered two of the most important people in British history for having the vision and courage to campaign tirelessly against totalitarian threats.

Across the pond, Brits have scoffed that Americans are ruining the English language. Here in the U.S., Americans fawn over British accents and giggle at the preposterous syllables in gobsmacked and kerfuffle.

As an American linguist teaching in England, Professor Lynne Murphy is on the linguistic front line. In her new book, "The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English," she explores the fiction and reality of the special relationship between British and American English.

Acclaimed writers Madeleine Thien and Peter Ho Davies join us this week to share their stories of Chinese heritage and the human experience. Thien’s latest work is “Do Not Say We Have Nothing” and Peter Ho Davies’ novel is “The Fortunes.”

Robert Lacey is the historical consultant to the Netflix series "The Crown," having worked previously with Peter Morgan on his Oscar-winning movie "The Queen."

As a renowned British historian and the author of numerous international bestsellers, including "Majesty," his pioneering biography of Queen Elizabeth II, Robert has been writing about the Queen and her extraordinary life for more than 40 years.

Season 2 of "The Crown" will be on Netflix on 12/8. Lacey's new book is "The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (1947-1955)."

In 1989, Ken Follett published the historical epic The Pillars of the Earth, a departure for the bestselling writer which was praised for its ambitious scope and unforgettable cast of characters. It reached #1 on bestseller lists around the world, and has since become Follett’s most popular novel.

Ten years ago, Oprah selected The Pillars of the Earth for her Book Club, and Follett published the second book in the Kingsbridge series, World Without End.  The two books in the series have sold 38 million copies.

The saga now continues with Follett’s new epic, A Column Of Fire, coming tomorrow, which will introduce readers to a world of spies and secret agents in the sixteenth century, the time of Queen Elizabeth I. 

A Column Of Fire begins in 1558 where the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty, and love. We can read the book tomorrow – we talk with best-selling author Ken Follett this morning. 


  Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong has been doing so on Broadway since March of this year.

 

In the play, it’s opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines) - the mad-cap romp meticulously disintegrates at The Lyceum Theatre on 45th Street.

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Play, The Play That Goes Wrong is directed by Mark Bell and written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. Lewis, Sayer, and Shields also star -- and two of the actor/co-creators -- Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer - sat down with us in New York City.

The terror attack in Northern England has reignited debate over national security.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Union College political science professor Brad Hays speaks with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

Caroline O'Connor and John Bolton in Anastasia
Joan Marcus

The new Broadway musical Anastasia features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally and a lush, new score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. Tony Award-winning director Darko Tresnjak directs a cast that features Christy Altomare, Derek Klena, John Bolton, Ramin Karimloo, Tony Award nominee Mary Beth Piel, and our guest: Caroline O’Connor -- who has been nominated for a Drama League award and an Outer Critic Circle Award for her portrayal of Countess Lily.

This marks O’Connor’s third Broadway show - she’s performed on the West End, at the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House. Some of her signature roles include Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Velma Kelly in Chicago, Anita in West Side Story and Mabel in Mack & Mabel.

She’s well known in certain circles for playing Nini in Baz Luhrman’s 2001 film, Moulin Rouge!

  On a hot summer day some twenty years after he was famously converted to kindness, Ebenezer Scrooge still roams the streets of London, spreading Christmas cheer, much to the annoyance of his creditors, nephew, and his employee Bob Cratchit. However, when Scrooge decides to help his old friend and former partner Jacob Marley, as well as other inhabitants of the city, he will need the assistance of the very people he’s annoyed. He’ll also have to call on the three ghosts that visited him two decades earlier. By the time they’re done, they’ve convinced everyone to celebrate Christmas all year long by opening their wallets, arms, and hearts to those around them.

Written in uncannily Dickensian prose, Charlie Lovett’s The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge is both a loving and winking tribute to the Victorian classic, perfect for readers of A Christmas Carol and other timeless holiday tales.

Kenneth Clark's thirteen-part 1969 television series, Civilisation, established him as a globally admired figure. Clark was prescient in making this series: the upheavals of the century, the Cold War among others, convinced him of the power of barbarism and the fragility of culture. He would burnish his image with two memoirs that artfully omitted the more complicated details of his life.

Now, drawing on a vast, previously unseen archive, James Stourton reveals the formidable intellect and the private man behind the figure who effortlessly dominated the art world for more than half a century: his privileged upbringing, his interest in art history beginning at Oxford, his remarkable early successes.

At 27 he was keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean in Oxford and at 29, the youngest director of The National Gallery. During the war he arranged for its entire collection to be hidden in slate mines in Wales and organized packed concerts of classical music at the Gallery to keep up the spirits of Londoners during the bombing. WWII helped shape his belief that art should be brought to the widest audience, a social and moral position that would inform the rest of his career.

Simon McBurney in The Encounter
Robbie Jack

The Encounter - conceived of, directed by, and starring, Simon McBurney is currently running at the Golden Theater in New York City. McBurney is a multi-Olivier Award-winning, Tony and SAG Award-nominated actor, writer, director and one of Europe’s most original theater makers. He is co-founder and artistic director of Complicite.

The one-man play tells the true story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre in 1969 - lost in Brazil as he encounters the Mayoruna - a remote people whose ancient traditions are uninfluenced by the western world. In The Encounter, McBurney also shares the story of the creation of this unique piece of theater.

Molding and stretching the classic artform of storytelling, McBurney and The Encounter team use specific and immersive binaural audio technology and sound design. Each member of the audience wears headphones which create an experience that uses their ears to trick their brain into telling their body and comprehension that events are happening that - in reality - aren’t; a voice from over your shoulder, a mosquito in your face, a fire nearby, a warm breath a little too nearby.

  In 1961, a thief broke into the National Gallery in London and committed the most sensational art heist in British history. He stole the museum’s much prized painting, The Duke of Wellington by Francisco Goya. Despite unprecedented international attention and an unflagging investigation, the case was not solved for four years, and even then, only because the culprit came forward voluntarily. 

Alan Hirch's book is The Duke of Wellington, Kidnapped!: The Incredible True Story of the Art Heist That Shocked a Nation.

  The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice promotes the human voice as an instrument of healing, peace and artistic expression through presenting world class performances in Phoenicia, New York and surrounding areas.

This year’s festival - running August 4th through the 7th – celebrates Shakespeare and the British Isles.

We are joined by world renowned opera singers, Executive Director Maria Todaro and Artistic Director Louis Otey. 

Brexit - Tina Packer

Jun 24, 2016

  One of our favorite Brits, Tina Packer - founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA -  joins us to share her thoughts and feelings on the Referendum of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union.

  Tim Vercellotti, political science professor and director of the Western New England University Polling Institute, is in London for a university summer program.

He has had a front row seat for the so-called “Brexit” referendum campaign.

Peter Frampton

May 31, 2016

  Lynyrd Skynyrd and Peter Frampton will be at The Times Union Center in Albany, NY (with special guest Jack Broadbent) on June 3rd.

Here, Joe Donahue speak with Frampton about his career; his seminal live album, Frampton Comes Alive!; and his relationship with David Bowie.

  Charlotte Brontë famously lived her entire life in an isolated parsonage on a remote English moor with a demanding father and siblings whose astonishing childhood creativity was a closely held secret.

Drawing on letters unavailable to previous biographers, Harman depicts Charlotte’s inner life with absorbing, almost novelistic intensity in her new book, Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart.

  In the new book, The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero, National Book Award winner Timothy Egan illuminates the dawn of the great Irish-American story -- with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man, Thomas Francis Meagher.

A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America.

  In June 1983 Margaret Thatcher won the biggest increase in a government’s parliamentary majority in British electoral history. Over the next four years, as Charles Moore relates in this central volume of his uniquely authoritative biography, Britain’s first woman prime minister changed the course of her country’s history and that of the world, often by sheer force of will.

Charles Moore has had unprecedented access to all of Mrs. Thatcher’s private and government papers. Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith: In London, Washington and Moscow is his second volume on the first - and so far only - female PM of Great Britain.

  Tina Packer is one of the country’s foremost experts on Shakespeare and theatre arts and now the actor, director, and master teacher offers an exploration of the women of Shakespeare’s plays in her new book: Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays.

  London in April, 1940, was a place of great fear and conflict. Everyone was on edge; civilization itself seemed imperiled. The Germans are marching. They have taken Poland, France, Holland, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. They now menace Britain. Should Britain negotiate with Germany?

The members of the War Cabinet bicker, yell, lose their control, and are divided. Churchill, leading the faction to fight, and Lord Halifax, cautioning that prudence is the way to survive, attempt to usurp one another by any means possible. Their country is on the line. And, in historian John Kelly’s new book: Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain's Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940, he brings us alongside these complex and imperfect men, determining the fate of the British Empire.

John Kelly specializes in narrative history. He is the author of several books including: The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People.

  As written and read by Joe Donahue:

I was obsessed with books, even as a kid. And my favorites were those by A.A. Milne about a very special bear – Winnie-the Pooh. As an adult, I became obsessed with the place where Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends live and play. The Hundred Acre Wood—the setting for Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures—was inspired by Ashdown Forest, a wildlife haven that spans more than 6,000 acres in southeast England.

I went trekking through the forest last December – one of the most meaningful adventures I have ever been on. So, when I first learned of Kathryn Aalto’s new book - The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh – I felt like it was written just for me.

In the pages of the book you can visit the ancient black walnut tree on the edge of the forest that became Pooh’s house, go deep into the pine trees to find Poohsticks Bridge, and climb up to the top of the enchanted Galleons Lap, where Pooh says goodbye to Christopher Robin.

  The Solid Sound Festival returns to MASS MoCA this weekend. The Richard Thompson Trio will play in Joe’s Field on Saturday.

Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards for Songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2011, Thompson was the recipient of the Order of the British Empire - personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Most recently, the Americana Music Honors & Awards nominated him for “Artist of the Year”.

Yesterday his new album, Still, was released yesterday on Fantasy Records. The album was recorded in The Wilco Loft in Chicago and is produced by Wilco front-man Jeff Tweedy.

Joan Marcus / AP

  The Audience is a play written by Peter Morgan, directed by Stephen Daldry, and starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth the II. It opened in the West End in 2013 earning Olivier Awards for Mirren and one of her co-stars, Richard McCabe. McCabe portrays Harold Wilson who was a British Labour Party politician and served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.

In The Audience, Peter Morgan has written imagined conversations between the Queen and her Prime Ministers during their weekly private meetings in Buckingham Palace. The play floats from year to year and decade to decade making use of theatre and costume quick-change magic and, of course, the skill of tremendous performers.

The Audience, now running on Broadway through June 28, is nominated for three Tony Awards - one for Dame Mirren, one for Bob Crowley for his costume design, and one for our guest, Richard McCabe.

  When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk.

JOAN MARCUS

  Jim Dale started his professional career as a seventeen year old comedian playing the Music Halls of Britain. A little down the road he became a pop singing star during the early days of rock and roll and appeared in fourteen of the legendary Carry On films for the British cinema.

At the request of Laurence Olivier he joined the British National Theatre. He starred in the first Musical by Cameron Mackintosh, The Card, and played Fagin in Oliver! at the London Palladium. He first appeared on the American stage in 1973 - in 1980 he won the Tony Award for his work in Barnum.

    In January, 1649 -- after seven years of fighting in the bloodiest war in Britain's history, Parliament had overpowered King Charles I and now faced a problem: what to do with a defeated king, a king who refused to surrender? Parliamentarians resolved to do the unthinkable, to disregard the Divine Right of Kings and hold Charles I to account for the appalling suffering and slaughter endured by his people. A tribunal of 135 men was hastily gathered in London, and although Charles refused to acknowledge the power of his subjects to try him, the death sentence was unanimously passed. On an icy winter's day on a scaffold outside Whitehall, in an event unique in English history, the King of England was executed. When the dead king's son, Charles II, was restored to the throne, he set about enacting a deadly wave of retribution against all those - the lawyers, the judges, the officers on the scaffold - responsible for his father's death. Some of the 'regicides' - the killers of the king - pleaded for mercy, while others stoically awaited their sentence.

Bestselling historian Charles Spencer explores this violent clash of ideals through the individuals whose fates were determined by that one, momentous decision in his book Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I.

  From the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate and the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house to the poor child doing chores in a slightly less poor household, servants were essential to the British way of life. They were hired not only for their skills but also to demonstrate the social standing of their employers—even as they were required to tread softly and blend into the background. More than simply the laboring class serving the upper crust—as popular culture would have us believe—they were a diverse group that shaped and witnessed major changes in the modern home, family, and social order.

Lucy Lethbridge explores the servants' stories in her book, Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times.

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