Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg

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Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg FRSL
Royal Society of Literature
The Royal Society of Literature is the "senior literary organisation in Britain". It was founded in 1820 by George IV, in order to "reward literary merit and excite literary talent". The Society's first president was Thomas Burgess, who later became the Bishop of Salisbury...

 FRTS
Royal Television Society
The Royal Television Society is a British-based educational charity for the discussion, and analysis of television in all its forms, past, present and future. It is the oldest television society in the world...

 FBA
British Academy
The British Academy is the United Kingdom's national body for the humanities and the social sciences. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.It receives an annual...

, FRS
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 FRSA (born 6 October 1939) is an English broadcaster and author best known for his work with the BBC and for presenting the The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show was a television arts magazine show, originally made by London Weekend Television , presented by Melvyn Bragg, broadcast on ITV and seen in over 60 countries worldwide — including Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States...

 (1978–2010). Since 1998 he has presented over 500 weekly episodes of the BBC Radio discussion programme In Our Time
In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg since 15 October 1998.. It is one of BBC radio's most successful discussion programmes, acknowledged to have "transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time"...

.

Background


Bragg was born 6 October 1939 in Carlisle, Cumberland
Cumberland
Cumberland is a historic county of North West England, on the border with Scotland, from the 12th century until 1974. It formed an administrative county from 1889 to 1974 and now forms part of Cumbria....

 (now Cumbria), the son of Mary Ethel (née Park), a tailor, and Stanley Bragg, a stock keeper turned mechanic. He attended the Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton, and then read Modern History
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

 at Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, located at the southern end of Parks Road in central Oxford. It was founded by Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham, wealthy Somerset landowners, during the reign of King James I...

, in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Broadcasting career


Bragg began his career in 1961 as a general trainee at the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, spending his first two years in radio at the BBC World Service
BBC World Service
The BBC World Service is the world's largest international broadcaster, broadcasting in 27 languages to many parts of the world via analogue and digital shortwave, internet streaming and podcasting, satellite, FM and MW relays...

, then at the BBC Third Programme
BBC Third Programme
The BBC Third Programme was a national radio network broadcast by the BBC. The network first went on air on 29 September 1946 and became one of the leading cultural and intellectual forces in Britain, playing a crucial role in disseminating the arts...

 and BBC Home Service
BBC Home Service
The BBC Home Service was a British national radio station which broadcast from 1939 until 1967.-Development:Between the 1920s and the outbreak of The Second World War, the BBC had developed two nationwide radio services, the BBC National Programme and the BBC Regional Programme...

. He then joined the production team of Huw Wheldon
Huw Wheldon
Sir Huw Pyrs Wheldon OBE MC was a BBC broadcaster and executive.Wheldon was born in Prestatyn, Wales and educated at Friars School, Bangor. His father, Sir Wynn Wheldon, was a prominent educationalist, who had been awarded the DSO for gallantry in the First World War...

's Monitor arts series on BBC Television
BBC Television
BBC Television is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The corporation, which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927, has produced television programmes from its own studios since 1932, although the start of its regular service of television...

. His work as a writer and broadcaster
Presenter
A presenter, or host , is a person or organization responsible for running an event. A museum or university, for example, may be the presenter or host of an exhibit. Likewise, a master of ceremonies is a person that hosts or presents a show...

 began in 1967. He is best known for the London Weekend Television
London Weekend Television
London Weekend Television was the name of the ITV network franchise holder for Greater London and the Home Counties including south Suffolk, middle and east Hampshire, Oxfordshire, south Bedfordshire, south Northamptonshire, parts of Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Warwickshire, east Dorset and...

 (LWT) arts programme The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show was a television arts magazine show, originally made by London Weekend Television , presented by Melvyn Bragg, broadcast on ITV and seen in over 60 countries worldwide — including Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States...

, which he edited and presented from 1978 to 2010. He was Head of Arts at LWT from 1982 to 1990 and Controller of Arts at LWT from 1990. He is also known for his many programmes on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

, including Start the Week
Start the Week
Start the Week is a discussion programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 which began in April 1970. The current presenter is the former BBC political editor Andrew Marr...

 (1988 to 1998), The Routes of English, (mapping the history of the English language), and In Our Time
In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg since 15 October 1998.. It is one of BBC radio's most successful discussion programmes, acknowledged to have "transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time"...

 (1998 to present), which in March 2011 broadcast its 500th programme.

A novelist and writer of non-fiction, Bragg has written a number of television and film screenplays. Some of his early television work was in collaboration with Ken Russell
Ken Russell
Henry Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Russell was an English film director, known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his flamboyant and controversial style. He attracted criticism as being obsessed with sexuality and the church...

, for whom he wrote the biographical dramas The Debussy Film (1965) and Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World
Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World
Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World, was a BBC TV film based on the life of the American dancer Isadora Duncan first broadcast on 22 September 1966. The film was written by Sewell Stokes and the director Ken Russell and starred Vivian Pickles and Peter Bowles.Sewell Stokes became...

 (1967), as well as Russell's film about Tchaikovsky, The Music Lovers
The Music Lovers
The Music Lovers is a 1970 British biographical film directed by Ken Russell. The screenplay by Melvyn Bragg, based on Beloved Friend, a collection of personal correspondence edited by Catherine Drinker Bowen and Barbara von Meck, focuses on the life and career of 19th century Russian composer...

 (1970). He is president of the National Academy of Writing. His 2008 novel Remember Me is a largely autobiographical story.

Bragg is a Vice President of the Friends of the British Library
Friends of the British Library
The Friends of the British Library is a registered charitable organisation in the UK with close links to the British Library. It provides funding in the form of grants to the British Library in order to allow the Library to acquire new items and collections, procure new equipment and facilities,...

, a charity set up to provide funding support to the British Library
British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats,...

. He became a member of the Arts Council Literature Panel in 1969, since becoming Chairman, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

.

Personal life


Bragg married his first wife, Marie-Elisabeth Roche, in 1961, and they had one child, a daughter.
He did not know that his wife had a history of suicide attempts. Ten years later she killed herself, after he left her for another woman. "I could have done things which helped and I did things which harmed", he told The Guardian in 1998. "So yes, I feel guilt, I feel remorse."

Bragg's second wife, Catherine Mary Haste, whom he married in 1973, is also a television producer and writer, having, among other things, edited the 2007 memoir of Clarissa Eden, widow of Sir Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...

, and collaborated with Cherie Booth, wife of Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, on a 2004 book about the wives of British Prime Ministers. They have a son and a daughter.

Bragg has publicly discussed two nervous breakdowns that happened in his life, one in his teens, and another in his 30s.

A friend of Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, the former Labour Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

, in 1998 Bragg was named in a list of the largest private financial donors to the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

.

He is a supporter of Arsenal F.C.
Arsenal F.C.
Arsenal Football Club is a professional English Premier League football club based in North London. One of the most successful clubs in English football, it has won 13 First Division and Premier League titles and 10 FA Cups...


Selected honours and awards


  • Writers Guild Screenplay Award (1966)
  • Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for Without a City Wall (1968)
  • Time/Life Silver Pen Award for The Hired Man (1970)
  • Northern Arts Association Prose Award (1970)
  • Broadcasting Guild Award (1984)
  • Ivor Novello Musical Award (1985)
  • President of the National Campaign for the Arts
    National Campaign for the Arts
    The National Campaign for the Arts is a lobbying group for the arts in the United KingdomFounded in 1985, NCA claims to be the UK's only independent lobbying organization representing all the arts.- Structure :...

     (since 1986)
  • British Academy of Film and Television Arts Dimbleby Award (1986)
  • Honorary Degree from the Open University
    Open University
    The Open University is a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom...

     as Doctor of the University. (1989)
  • Domus Fellow, St Catherine's College, Oxford
    St Catherine's College, Oxford
    St Catherine's College, often called Catz, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its motto is Nova et Vetera...

     (1990)
  • Bad Sex in Fiction Award for A Time to Dance (1993)
  • BAFTA TV Award for An Interview with Dennis Potter
    Dennis Potter
    Dennis Christopher George Potter was an English dramatist, best known for The Singing Detective. His widely acclaimed television dramas mixed fantasy and reality, the personal and the social. He was particularly fond of using themes and images from popular culture.-Biography:Dennis Potter was born...

     (1995)
  • Honorary Fellowship from Wadham College, Oxford (1995)
  • Governor of the London School of Economics
    London School of Economics
    The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

     (since 1997).
  • Bragg was appointed to the House of Lords
    House of Lords
    The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

     as "Baron Bragg, of Wigton in the County of Cumbria"; Labour
    Labour Party (UK)
    The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

     life peer
    Life peer
    In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the Peerage whose titles cannot be inherited. Nowadays life peerages, always of baronial rank, are created under the Life Peerages Act 1958 and entitle the holders to seats in the House of Lords, presuming they meet qualifications such as...

     (1998)
  • Appointed Chancellor of the University of Leeds
    University of Leeds
    The University of Leeds is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England...

     (1999)
  • WH Smith Literary Award
    WH Smith Literary Award
    The WH Smith Literary Award was an award founded in 1959 by British high street retailer W H Smith. Its founding aim was stated to be to "encourage and bring international esteem to authors of the British Commonwealth"; originally open to all residents of the UK, the Commonwealth and the Republic...

     for The Soldier's Return (2000)
  • Namesake of Millom
    Millom
    Millom is a town and civil parish on the estuary of the River Duddon in the southwest of Cumbria, England. The name is Cumbrian dialect for "At the mills". The town is accessible both by rail and an A class road...

     School drama studio (2005)
  • The South Bank Show Lifetime Achievement Award (2010)
  • BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award
    BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award
    The BAFTA Fellowship is lifetime achievement award presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts since 1971 "in recognition of outstanding achievement in the art forms of the moving image", and is the highest honour the Academy can bestow...

     (2010)
  • Honorary Fellowship of the British Academy
    British Academy
    The British Academy is the United Kingdom's national body for the humanities and the social sciences. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.It receives an annual...

     (2010), for "public understanding of the arts, literature and sciences"
  • Honorary Fellowship of Royal Society
    Royal Society
    The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

     (2010)


Novels

  • For Want of a Nail (1965)
  • The Second Inheritance (1966)
  • The Cumbrian Trilogy
    Cumbrian Trilogy
    The Cumbrian Trilogy comprises three novels by Melvyn Bragg, published between 1969 and 1980.The story is set predominantly in Thurston , from the 1920s to the 1970s, and follows the lives of John Tallentire, his son Joseph, and his grandson Douglas...

    :
    • The Hired Man
      The Hired Man
      The Hired Man is a novel by Melvyn Bragg, first published in 1969. It is the first part of Bragg's Cumbrian Trilogy.The story is set predominantly in the rural area around Thurston , from the 1890s to the 1920s, and follows the life of John Tallentire, a farm labourer and coal miner...

       (1969)
    • A Place in England
      A Place in England
      A Place in England is a novel by Melvyn Bragg, first published in 1970. It is the second part of Bragg's Cumbrian Trilogy.The story is set predominantly in Thurston , from the 1920s to the 1960s, and follows the life of Joseph Tallentire, a labourer, footman, and eventually publican...

       (1970)
    • Kingdom Come (1980)
  • The Nerve (1971)
  • Josh Lawton (1972)
  • The Silken Net (1974)
  • Autumn Manoeuvres (1978)
  • Love and Glory
    Love and Glory
    Love and Glory is a 1983 novel by Robert B. Parker. The story is told in the first person by Boone Adams. It is a coming-of-age and love story...

     (1983)
  • The Maid of Buttermere (1987) (based on the life of Mary Robinson
    Mary Robinson (Maid of Buttermere)
    Mary Robinson was known as "The Maid of Buttermere", is the subject of Melvyn Bragg's novel of that name, and is mentioned in William Wordsworth's Prelude....

    )
  • Without a City Wall (1988)
  • The Second Inheritance (1990)
  • A Time to Dance (1990)
  • Crystal Rooms (1992)
  • Credo
    Credo (novel)
    Credo is a novel by British author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, published in 1996. An epic story of the Christian faith set in 7th Century Britain, it centres around the life of a young Celtic Princess torn between her dedication to God's service and her love for Padric, a Prince of Rheged...

     (1996) also known as The Sword and the Miracle
  • The Soldier's Return
    The Soldier's Return
    -Plot summary:Sam Richardson returns to the small Cumbrian town of Wigton after fighting in Burma during the Second World War. The war has given Sam’s wife Ellen a newfound confidence and Sam is a stranger to his son Joe...

     Quartet:
    • The Soldier's Return (1999)
    • A Son of War (2001)
    • Crossing the Lines (2003)
    • Remember Me... (2008)

Non-fiction books

  • Speak For England (1976)
  • Land of The Lakes (1983)
  • Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

     (1984)
  • Cumbria in Verse (editor) (1984)
  • Rich: The Life of Richard Burton (1988)
  • King Lear in New York (1994)
  • On Giants' Shoulders
    On Giants' Shoulders
    -Overview:On Giants Shoulders was written in 1998 by Melvyn Bragg. The book was assembled after a series of interviews Bragg had with current scientists about the worlds greatest scientists such as Einstein, Newton and Archimedes. Bragg who brands himself as a 'non-scientist', conducted these...

     (1998)
  • Two Thousand Years Part 1: The Birth of Christ to the Crusades (1999)
  • Two Thousand Years Part 2 (1999)
  • The Routes of English (2001)
  • The Adventure of English
    The Adventure of English
    The Adventure of English is a British television series on the history of the English language presented by Melvyn Bragg as well as a companion book, also written by Bragg...

     (2003)
  • Twelve Books That Changed the World
    Twelve Books That Changed the World
    Twelve Books That Changed the World is a book by Melvyn Bragg, published in 2006.The twelve books listed were:* Principia Mathematica — Isaac Newton* Married Love — Marie Stopes* Magna Carta...

     (2006)
  • In Our Time
    In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
    In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg since 15 October 1998.. It is one of BBC radio's most successful discussion programmes, acknowledged to have "transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time"...

     (editor) (2009)
  • The Book of Books (2011)

Children's books

  • A Christmas Child (1977)
  • My Favourite Stories of Lakeland (editor) (1981)

Screenwriting

  • Isadora
    Isadora
    Isadora is a 1968 biographical film which tells the story of celebrated American dancer Isadora Duncan. It stars Vanessa Redgrave, James Fox and Jason Robards....

     (1968) (with Clive Exton
    Clive Exton
    Clive Exton was a British television and film screenwriter, sometime playwright, and former actor. He is best known for his scripts of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster, and Rosemary & Thyme.-Early career:He was born Clive Jack Montague Brooks in Islington, London,...

     and Margaret Drabble)
  • Play Dirty
    Play Dirty
    Play Dirty is a 1969 British film inspired by the North African exploits of units such as the Long Range Desert Group, Popski's Private Army and the SAS during World War II. It was directed by André De Toth and written by Melvyn Bragg and Lotte Colin...

     (1968)
  • The Music Lovers
    The Music Lovers
    The Music Lovers is a 1970 British biographical film directed by Ken Russell. The screenplay by Melvyn Bragg, based on Beloved Friend, a collection of personal correspondence edited by Catherine Drinker Bowen and Barbara von Meck, focuses on the life and career of 19th century Russian composer...

     (1970) (directed by Ken Russell
    Ken Russell
    Henry Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Russell was an English film director, known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his flamboyant and controversial style. He attracted criticism as being obsessed with sexuality and the church...

    )
  • Jesus Christ Superstar
    Jesus Christ Superstar (film)
    Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1973 American film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera of the same name. Directed by Norman Jewison, the film centers on the conflict between Judas and Jesus during the last weeks before the crucifixion of Jesus...

     (1973)


External links