Professor Stephen Hawking set for Charleston Festival 2017

Professor Stephen Hawking heads the list of speakers at this year's Charleston Festival.

Thursday, 16th February 2017, 2:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 9:21 am
Professor Stephen Hawking. Picture by A. Pattenden

The British theoretical cosmologist has just been announced as the winner of the third Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize and will deliver the Keynes lecture on Monday, May 22.

In the spirit of Keynes’ work, life and legacy, this global prize recognises Hawking’s outstanding contribution to society.

Professor Hawking holds the Stephen W. Hawking chair of cosmology at Cambridge University.

His 50-year career has won him numerous honours and prizes and his groundbreaking book A Brief History of Time was a bestseller.

In recent years he has turned his attention to science in school education, co-authoring with his daughter the George book series for young readers.

A prolific commentator on important public, cultural and scientific issues, Professor Hawking has used his high profile to highlight the dangers faced by the human race, including global warming, overpopulation, caution over AI and the risks to UK science in leaving the European Union.

Dame Liz Forgan, chair of the prize’s advisory panel, said: “This prize given in memory of the great economist Maynard Keynes celebrates outstanding thinkers who have put their gifts to the enhancement of humanity. Stephen Hawking is one of the great minds of our age, a teacher, an innovator and an explorer of the biggest questions facing humankind. But in the defiant courage with which he lives his life he is also an inspiration for millions who may never read his books.”

Professor Stephen Hawking, said: “I am delighted to be joining the Charleston Festival this year and to accept the Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize 2017. This is a great honour for me and acknowledges one of our most celebrated economists.”

Charleston Festival takes place from May 19-29 at Charleston, six miles east of Lewes (off A27).

The programme

Charleston always promises big surprises and the line-up for this year’s festival is no exception.

There’s a lecture by Stephen Hawking, as well as talks by authors like Richard Ford, Helen Macdonald, Sarah Perry, Colm Toíbín, Philippe Sands, Elif Shafak and Elizabeth Strout.

The programme reflects turbulent times, as well as the humanising power of literature, art and culture.

Artistic director Diana Reich has assembled a cast of remarkable writers, thinkers and artists, together with politicians such as Nick Clegg, Harriet Harman and Caroline Lucas; performers as diverse as child prodigy violinist Min Kym and Barry Humphries; screen legend Vanessa Redgrave; journalists John Simpson, BBC world affairs editor and Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow, who will discuss empathy with Peter Bazalgette, former chair of the Arts Council.

Centenaries are celebrated – that of the Hogarth Press founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf and of the Russian Revolution, assessed by Helen Rappaport and Robert Skidelsky.

Poet and broadcaster Michael Rosen speaks about Emile Zola’s flight to London after his defence of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Israeli novelist David Grossman will be in conversation with Giles Fraser about the ability of fiction to illuminate the problems of the Middle East.

Art and design are represented by Maggie Hambling, by Deyan Sudjic on his vision for the new Design Museum and with a debate on Turner v. Monet.

The full festival programme is online. People can pick up a brochure from outlets across the district.

There is a shuttle bus service to and from Lewes Station for all sessions.

Priority booking for Friends of Charleston runs from Feb 13-17. Tickets on general sale from Feb 20.

Individual tickets are available for all sessions at varying prices. Day tickets start at £65, with an all events ticket for the 11 day Festival costing £550. This does not include the Festival Dinner.

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