'Before biography was fashionable, Antonia Fraser made the past popular' Guardian
'As a pure storyteller, Antonia Fraser has few equals' Sunday Times
CAROLINE NORTON, a nineteenth-century heroine who wanted justice for women.
Poet, pamphleteer and artist's muse, Caroline Norton dazzled nineteenth-century society with her vivacity and intelligence. After her marriage in 1828 to the MP George Norton, she continued to attract friends and admirers to her salon in Westminster, which included the young Disraeli. Most prominent among her admirers was the widowed Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. Racked with jealousy, George Norton took the Prime Minister to court, suing him for damages on account of his 'Criminal Conversation' (adultery) with Caroline. A dramatic trial followed. Despite the unexpected and sensational result - acquittal - Norton legally denied Caroline access to her three children under seven. He also claimed her income as an author for himself, since the copyrights of a married woman belonged to her husband.
Yet Caroline refused to despair. Beset by the personal cruelties perpetrated by her husband and a society whose rules were set against her, she chose to fight, not surrender. She channelled her energies in an area of much-needed reform: the rights of a married woman and specifically those of a mother. Over the next few years she campaigned tirelessly, achieving her first landmark victory with the Infant Custody Act of 1839. Provisions which are now taken for granted, such as the right of a mother to have access to her own children, owe much to Caroline, who was determined to secure justice for women at all levels of society from the privileged to the dispossessed.
Award-winning historian Antonia Fraser brilliantly portrays a woman, at once courageous and compassionate, who refused to be curbed by the personal and political constraints of her time.
All three series of the BBC radio bittersweet comedy narrated by Sheila Hancock following the adventures of the residents of a small town in Northamptonshire - plus special episode 'Full Stop'.
Relationships have come and gone but life continues in Wadenbrook, where Sheila Hancock takes us behind closed doors to reveal the inhabitants' heartbreak and happiness.
We meet Rod the local supermarket manager (Mackenzie Crook), who shares rather more than is usual about his private life over the store's tannoy system, and recently divorced Jan (Felicity Montagu) who's been trying unsuccessfully to 'find herself'. Forthright self-defence teacher Esther (Katherine Jakeways, also the writer of this series) and her gentle and put-upon husband Jonathan (Kevin Eldon) are trying to start a family, and Ken and Keith, possibly the happiest couple in town are determined to teach their pet whippets to dance for the town talent night.
Throughout this funny and touching comedy show, love blossoms in the most unexpected places, birthdays are celebrated, and visitors are both expected and unexpected. In the final ever episode, 'Full Stop' the residents of Wadenbrook travel to see a starry production at the Birmingham Hippodrome but heavy snow threatens to thwart everyone's plans....
Narrated by Sheila Hancock, North by Northamptonshire also stars Kevin Eldon, Geoffrey Palmer, Penelope Wilton, Mackenzie Crook and Felicity Montagu, and was written by Katherine Jakeways.
A brand new BBC Radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman's award-winning fairytale, merging Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to enchanting effect
In a mountain kingdom far away, a young queen prepares for her wedding, believing her future is sealed. But when three dwarves bring news of a sleeping sickness sweeping across her realm, she knows she cannot stand by and do nothing. As a girl, she survived her own long, magical sleep, so she must try to turn back this new plague and save her people.
Abandoning her bridal finery, she dons her armour instead, and rides out to a castle at the very heart of the sleeping lands. There, she finds a beautiful princess, sound asleep, and a very old woman, forever awake. With no handsome prince in sight, the queen wakes the princess in the traditional way - but things are not as they seem, and it will take more than a kiss to ensure everyone lives happily ever after...
Penelope Wilton, Gwendoline Christie, Ralph Ineson and Neil Gaiman himself are among the star cast in this captivating fable of love, loss, hope and destiny.
This release is an extended cut of the story broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and features an exclusive introduction from Neil Gaiman.
Written by Neil Gaiman
Adapted by Katie Hims
Directed and produced by Allegra McIlroy
Recorded remotely by Sharon Hughes and John Benton
Sound design by Sharon Hughes
A BBC Audio North Production
The Narrator/The Old Woman - Dame Penelope Wilton
The Queen - Gwendoline Christie
The Home Secretary - Neil Gaiman
The First Dwarf - Ralph Ineson
The Second Dwarf - Stefan Adegbola
The Third Dwarf/The Prince/The Tinker/The Woodcutter - Ian Dunnett Jnr
The Pot Girl/The Young Girl/The Mother - Cecilia Appiah
The Maid/The Other Woman/The Stepmother - Emma Handy
The Father/The Inn Keeper/The Bandit - Roger Ringrose
The Child - Milton Dighton
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 26 December 2020
A landmark collection of BBC Radio productions of the works of Katherine Mansfield - plus bonus dramas and documentary
One of the great Modernist authors, Katherine Mansfield was a short story virtuoso, redefining the genre with her subtle, powerfully perceptive tales. A prolific writer, she penned over 60 stories and several poetry collections before her death from TB in 1923, aged only 34.
This outstanding collection opens with Radio 4's 2020 series And Other Stories: Katherine Mansfield. It comprises dramatisations of 'Marriage a la Mode', 'Something Childish But Very Natural', 'Bliss', 'Daughters of the Late Colonel', 'The Garden Party', 'Ma Parker' and 'Her First Ball', all starring Hattie Morahan, as well as readings of 'The Stranger', 'Miss Brill', 'A Cup of Tea', Poison' and 'The Doll's House', narrated by Hugh Bonneville, Barbara Flynn, Hattie Morahan and Blake Ritson.
Morven Christie reads Mansfield's newly-discovered early short story 'Little Episodes', and selected stories from her first collection In A German Pension - 'Germans at Meat and Frau Fischer', 'The Sister of the Baroness', 'The Modern Soul', 'The Advanced Lady' and 'Frau Brechenmacher Attends a Wedding' - are dramatised with a cast including Claire Skinner, Eleanor Bron and Emma Cunniffe.
Also included are eight of her lesser-known tales: 'A Dill Pickle' (read by Clare Corbett), 'Mr Reginald Peacock's Day' (read by Brian Gear), 'Sun and Moon' (read by Lin Sagovsky), 'Psychology' and 'Pictures' (read by Eileen Atkins), 'The Voyage' (read by Indira Varma), 'Honeymoon' (read by Emilia Fox) and 'The Fly' (read by Sam Dale). In addition, her evocative poem 'Winter Song' is read by Sir Derek Jacobi.
Two original dramas explore moments in the life of the great author. Katie Hims' Luxembourg Gardens reimagines Katherine Mansfield's last day in Paris and stars Hattie Morahan, while Cherie Rogers' An Oddly Complete Understanding looks at Mansfield's friendship with Virginia Woolf and stars Rosalind Shanks and Penelope Wilton. The passionate correspondence between Katherine Mansfield and her husband John Middleton Murray is revealed in Darling Mouse, Precious Worm, read by Kerry Fox and Michael Maloney. And in Great Lives: Katherine Mansfield, Jacqueline Wilson assesses the impact of Mansfield's brilliant but tragically short career.
2. Something Childish But Very Natural
3. Marriage a la Mode
4. Daughters of the Late Colonel
5. The Garden Party
6. Life of Ma Parker
7. Her First Ball
8. The Stranger
9. Miss Brill
10. A Cup of Tea
11. The Doll's House
13. Little Episode
14. Germans at Meat and Frau Fischer
15. The Sister of the Baroness
16. The Modern Soul
17. The Advanced Lady
18. Frau Brechenmacher Attends a Wedding
19. Dill Pickle
20. Mr Reginald Peacock's Day
21. Sun and Moon
24. The Voyage
26. The Fly
27. Winter Song
28. Luxembourg Gardens by Katie Hims
29. An Oddly Complete Understanding by Cherie Rogers
30-34. Darling Mouse, Precious Worm - letter between Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murray
35. Great Lives: Katherine Mansfield - with Jacqueline Wilson
Three BBC radio adaptations of famous novels by the prolific 19th-century author Mrs Oliphant – plus an episode of Reading Aloud, with extracts from her autobiography
Sometimes called ‘the feminist Trollope’, Margaret Oliphant wrote over 100 works of fiction in a wide variety of genres, ranging from novels of small-town life to historical tales and supernatural stories. Included here are three of her best-loved works, brimming with dry wit, perceptive irony and flawed but fascinating heroines.
Lucilla Marjoribanks, a large and determined girl, returns from school with two resolves – to comfort her recently widowed father and to revolutionise society. She becomes the doyenne of Carlingford’s social circle with her Thursday soirees – but her plans are disrupted by her friends’ romances, a new arrival, the solving of a mystery and a wedding… Starring Elizabeth Spriggs as Mrs Oliphant and Teresa Gallagher as Lucilla.
Phoebe Beecham has met Clarence Copperhead at a Ball in London. His wealthy father disapproves of her, and she fortuitously leaves London to visit her sick Grandmother in Carlingford. But a shock awaits her on arrival... Starring Elizabeth Spriggs as Mrs Oliphant and Charlotte Attenborough as Phoebe Junior.
In this deliciously sardonic tale of credit and discredit, a young woman in a 19th Century Cheshire town, having been snubbed and discarded in marriage, does something truly radical. When the family bank is in danger, she pledges her private fortune to save it – but insists on running it herself, as a single woman, in defiance of all convention. Starring Penelope Wilton as Margaret Oliphant and Lyndsey Marshal as Hester Vernon.
Also included is a bonus episode of Reading Aloud, in which Gudrun Ure reads from Mrs Oliphant’s autobiography, shining a light on the tragic life of the acclaimed Scottish novelist.
Dramatisations and readings of EM Forster's finest works, plus Stephen Wakelam's radio play A Dose of Fame and the documentary feature Forster in India: Sex, Books and Empire
One of the greatest English novelists of the 20th century, EM Forster was also an accomplished short story writer. This collection includes stunning adaptations of his classic novels A Passage to India, Where Angels Fear to Tread, A Room with a View and Howards End. Among the star casts are Penelope Wilton, Ellie Kendrick, Sian Thomas, Emilia Fox, Sheila Hancock and John Hurt.
Also featured are four of his short tales - 'The Story of the Siren' (read by Dan Stevens), 'The Road from Colonus' (read by Andrew Sachs), 'The Obelisk' (read by Ruth Wilson) and 'Ansell' (read by Peter Kenny).
Forster's posthumous novel, Maurice, is dramatised with a full cast and stars Alex Wyndham and Bertie Carvel, while Stephen Wakelam's drama A Dose of Fame, starring Stephen Campbell Moore as Forster, sees the author grappling with a mysterious death, his own sexuality and an idea for his next novel.
In addition, Zareer Masani presents a revealing Radio 3 profile exploring Forster's literature, love life and personal passage to India.
As one of the best biographers of her generation, Claire Tomalin has written about great novelists and poets to huge success: now, she turns to look at her own life.
This enthralling memoir follows her through triumph and tragedy in about equal measure, from the disastrous marriage of her parents and the often difficult wartime childhood that followed, to her own marriage to the brilliant young journalist Nicholas Tomalin. When he was killed on assignment as a war correspondent she was left to bring up their four children - and at the same time make her own career.
She writes of the intense joys of a fascinating progression as she became one of the most successful literary editors in London before discovering her true vocation as a biographer, alongside overwhelming grief at the loss of a child.
Writing with the élan and insight which characterize her biographies, Claire Tomalin sets her own life in a wider cultural and political context, vividly and frankly portraying the social pressures on a woman in the Fifties and Sixties, and showing 'how it was for a European girl growing up in mid-twentieth-century England ... carried along by conflicting desires to have children and a worthwhile working life.'
The complete second series of Katherine Jakeways' heartwarming BBC Radio 4 comedy, starring Sheila Hancock as the Narrator.Wadenbrook is a small market town in a corner of Northamptonshire, whose inhabitants live quiet but by no means uneventful lives. In these six episodes, as they build up to a Dickensian Festival weekend complete with mob caps, cravats and shawls which are usually used as cat blankets, narrator Sheila Hancock shines a light on their loves, laughs and loneliness. Jan has Helen back home, but is it what she really wants? Meanwhile, a visiting choir sets the local ladies' hearts aflutter and Mary's dad, Norman, has an adventure of his own. Esther has a big question to ask Ken and Keith, and Angela and Helen both have news to divulge. And as the dawn of the festival brings chaos to Wadenbrook, love blossoms for a most unlikely couple... Sheila Hancock is the Narrator of this funny and touching comedy series, also starring Mackenzie Crook, Kevin Eldon, Geoffrey Palmer, Penelope Wilton and Felicity Montagu. Duration: 3 hours.
Sheila Hancock narrates the bittersweet adventures of the residents of a small town in Northamptonshire in the complete 3rd series of the BBC radio comedy drama – plus special episode Full Stop.Relationships have come and gone but life continues in Wadenbrook, where Sheila Hancock takes us behind closed doors to reveal the inhabitants' heartbreak and happiness. In Series 3, Ken and Keith are celebrating; Jan has dinner with her ex-husband, and Mary and Jonathan have crossed wires. In addition, visitors are expected in Wadenbrook; a revelation is long overdue; Jan determines to do something unexpected for her birthday and a funeral focuses everyone's mind. Full Stop finds the inhabitants of Wadenbrook taking a New Years' Eve minibus trip. Having recently performed their own amateur production of My Fair Lady, they are excited to be off to see a professional and starry production at Birmingham's Hippodrome. Former school teacher Mary has organised the outing (with an ulterior motive) and Ken has animportant question to ask Keith. But heavy snow threatens to thwart everyone's plans... Sheila Hancock is the Narrator of this heartwarming comedy series, also starring Kevin Eldon, Geoffrey Palmer, Penelope Wilton and Felicity Montagu. Duration: 3 hours 45 mins.
Antonia Fraser's memoir describes growing up in the 1930s and 1940s but its real concern is with her growing love of history. The fascination began as a child when her evacuation at the beginning of the war to an Elizabethan manor house became an inspiration for historical imaginings - and developed into an enduring passion; as she writes, 'for me, the study of History has always been an essential part of the enjoyment of life'.
Penelope Wilton narrates BBC Radio 4’s epic dramatisation of the treasured family sagaElizabeth Jane Howard’s five book chronicle of the upper-middle class Cazalet family begins in 1938, as siblings Hugh, Edward, Rupert and Rachel join together for another family holiday at Home Place, their house in the Sussex countryside. During the course of The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, Casting Off and All Change, the progress of their lives, and those of their children, will be charted. As their stories unfolds we gain a vivid insight into the lives, hopes and loves of three generations during the Second Word War and beyond.Dramatised by Sarah Daniels and Lin Coghlan, and with a large cast of actors across all five books, this remarkable radio event adds a new dimension to Elizabeth Jane Howard’s extraordinary chronicles. The first four Cazalet novels sold over a million copies, with the fifth being published in 2013, shortly before the author’s death.