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Top speakers bring Insights to Newcastle University

He was a hit with Newcastle audiences in Victorian times and Charles Dickens will be pulling in the crowds again 200 years after he was born at a public lecture at Newcastle University.

Acclaimed biographer Claire Tomalin will be discussing the life of the much-loved author on Tuesday, 21 February. Her biography of Dickens received glowing praise when it was published last year.

Dickens came to Newcastle six times between 1852 and 1867 to read extracts from his hugely popular work at the Music Hall, on Nelson Street. The lecture will look at how he rose from unpromising beginnings to become a literary giant who wrote classic novels including Great Expectations and Oliver Twist.

Charles Dickens: A Life is just one of the spring season of free Insights public lectures being held at Newcastle University. Speakers including Liberty Director Shami Chakrabati, former Newcastle University chancellor Lord Patten and actor and director Sam West, will all be taking part in the programme of talks which run from February until May.

Shami Chakrabati will be using examples from her favourite children’s stories to show how they can be a potent force for freedom and rights on Tuesday, 6 March. She will be discussing where human rights come from and why we value them.

Lord Patten, former governor of Hong Kong, will ask how Britain and Europe can cope with the global changes brought about by the rise of China and India’s economic power on Tuesday, 8 May.

Actor and director Sam West is directing a revival of Close the Coalhouse Door, the Alan Plater play which celebrates the spirit of the North East. Sam West has starred in Howards End and Persuasion, among many other roles, and is currently appearing in television drama Eternal Law. He will be giving a pre-performance talk about the new production on Thursday, 26 April. The play will be performed at Northern Stage from 13 April to 5 May.

The university’s chair of public lectures, Professor Frances Spalding, said: “Our public lectures bring to Newcastle University fantastic speakers who want to share new ideas, new research, innovative theories and practices. Many of our lecturers are involved with addressing urgent questions as to how we live now and how we can help shape the future.

“The question and answer sessions which often follow the lectures offer audiences the opportunity to join in these debates. As always, we welcome comments and feedback about the programme and suggestions for future speakers."

All Insights public lectures are free to attend and most take place at 5.30pm in the Curtis Auditorium of the university’s Herschel Building. For the full Insights programme and for more information about the lectures, visit the website.  To listen again and dowload previous talks visit iTunes U.

published on: 8 February 2012