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Richard Burton: the aspirant scholar

Professor Chris Williams, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University

Date/Time: 5th December 2013

Venue: Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building, Newcastle University

Richard Burton (born 1925 died 1984) was one of the world’s most accomplished and iconic actors, whose marriages to Elizabeth Taylor propelled him further into the limelight of celebrity and excess. Yet the notorious hard-drinking womaniser wasteful of his talents was only one dimension of this complex and conflicted character. A keen diarist at various points in his life he has left extensive testimony as to his private thoughts, reflections, reading habits and artistic frustrations. In The Richard Burton Diaries we find a man deeply engaged with the worlds of learning and scholarship, a man with aspirations to be taken seriously as a writer, who aimed to understand the great philosophical and historical questions of the moment.

Chris Williams is Professor of History and Head of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University. While Director of the Research Institute at Swansea University (2010-13) he edited The Richard Burton Diaries (published in 2012 by Yale University Press) which were deposited in the Richard Burton Archives at Swansea in 2005. Born in South Wales he studied at Oxford and Cardiff Universities and has worked also for the University of Glamorgan and the Open University. He led leading a Heritage Lottery Funded project titled ‘Cartooning the First World War in Wales’, and co-editing a festschrift in memory of Professor Duncan Tanner: The Art of the Possible: Politics and Governance in Modern Britain, 1885-1997, to be published by Manchester University Press.