Great Writers' Lives
  • Great Writers' Lives

  • Famous fans choose their favourite writers for BBC Radio 4's Great Lives

    For 20 years, Great Lives has been a cornerstone of the Radio 4 schedules, presented by Joan Bakewell, Humphrey Carpenter, Francine Stock and Matthew Parris. Each week, a well-known personality is invited to select someone who has inspired them. They then discuss the 'Great Life' with the presenter and a guest expert to decide whether their hero really merits the accolade.

    This special collection, celebrating the programme's 20th anniversary, contains the very best episodes featuring authors' lives - from novelists to poets, playwrights to food writers. The eclectic selections include Armando Iannucci on Charles Dickens, Caroline Criado Perez on Jane Austen, and Rich Hall on Tennessee Williams. Two Prime Ministers, John Major and Boris Johnson, discuss the lives of Rudyard Kipling and Samuel Johnson respectively, while MP Rory Stewart champions Sir Walter Scott and Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate, nominates Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

    From Fay Weldon on H. G. Wells, to Prue Leith on Elizabeth David, the lives of the guests themselves are revealed to be just as fascinating as those of their chosen candidates for greatness.

    Illuminating and insightful, these gripping Great Lives episodes track the highs and lows of some of the most illustrious characters in the world of literature, sifting fact from fiction to show why they achieved so much and how they have inspired and influenced so many.

    List of episodes and date of first broadcast on BBC Radio 4:
    HG Wells 12.10.2001
    George Eliot 7.6.2002
    Lord Byron 19.7.2002
    Charles Dickins 21.11.2003
    Edith Wharton 14.5.2004
    George Orwell 12.11.2004
    Robert Burns 31.12.2004
    Elizabeth Gaskell 20.5.2005
    Robert Louis Stevenson 22.4.2005
    George Sand 8.4.2005
    Vasily Grossman 28.10.2005
    Anton Chekhov 17.4.2007
    George Bernard Shaw 29.5.2007
    Elizabeth David 25.9.2007
    Katherine Mansfield 22.1.2008
    Charles Bukowski 8.4.2008
    Dr Samuel Johnson 8.9.2009
    Rudyard Kipling 29.9.2009
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson 4.8.2009
    Tennessee Williams 15.12.2009
    Bertolt Brecht 06.04.2010
    Michel de Montaigne 21.09.2010
    Samuel Beckett 21.12.2010
    DH Lawrence 14.12.2010
    Lewis Carroll 3.5.2011
    Simone de Beauvoir 19.04.2011
    Hans Fallada 6.9.2011
    William Shakespeare 30.08.2011
    Sir Walter Scott 14.8.2012
    John Updike 07.01.2014
    Elie Wiesel 13.12.2016
    CS Lewis 03.01.2017
    Jane Austen 7.5.2019

    Copyright © 2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

    Presented by Matthew Parris, Francine Stock and Humphrey Carpenter
    Produced by Perminder Khatkar, Miles Warde, Jolyon Jenkins, John Byrne, Maggie Ayre, Toby Field, Alasdair Cross, Mary Ward Lowery, Peter Everett, Mark Smalley, Isobel Eaton, Jolyon Jenkins, Christine Hall, Lizz Pearson, Beth O'Dea, Paul Dodgson, Nicola Humphries, Chris Ledgard, Melvin Rickarby, Camellia Sinclair, Eliza Lomas, Beatrice Fenton

Caroline Criado Perez is a writer, broadcaster and award-winning feminist campaigner. Her most notable campaigns have included co-founding The Women’s Room, getting a woman on Bank of England banknotes, forcing Twitter to revise its procedures for dealing with abuse and successfully campaigning for a statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett to be erected in Parliament Square. She was the 2013 recipient of the Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year Award, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015. Invisible Women has won the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, the Books Are My Bag Readers’ Choice Award and the Royal Society Science Book Prize. She lives in London.

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