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Theme: Private Lives

You never know what goes on behind closed doors, most intriguingly behind those of people who live very public lives. We look through the keyhole at private lives - from high-profile figures such as Elizabeth I to hidden sections of society like the prostitutes of Victorian York. 

What's on

Sat
20
Jun

In Bed with the Queen

Learn about the politics of intimacy, sexual slander, conspiracy and suspicion which centred on the Queen Elizabeth I’s body and her bedchamber.

Sat
20
Jun

In the Family Way

Learn about the experience of illegitimacy from the Great War to the Swinging Sixties, a story not only about shame and appalling prejudice, but about discoveries, triumphs, and the every-day strength of the human spirit.

Sat
20
Jun

Darwin: A life in poems

The poet Ruth Padel reads from her poetry collection Darwin: A Life in Poems, on the life, thought, and marriage of her great great grandfather Charles Darwin.

Sat
20
Jun

Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A strange romance

In an age where first ladies are under ever-increasing pressure to perform and conform, Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance offers a portrait of one who refused to do either, in a society which demanded she do both.

Thu
18
Jun

Prostitution in Victorian York

What do we know about nineteenth-century prostitution in York? Frances Finnegan discusses her research in this area, revealing what the records of the time can tell us, and examining the history of York’s attempt at reform.

Thu
18
Jun

The Life and Legacy of George Bradshaw

Dr David Turner explores the life and legacy of George Bradshaw, who wrote Bradshaw’s Railway Companion, and reveals that behind the ‘Bradshaw’ branding is a surprising story.

Wed
17
Jun

The Author’s Effects

Join Nicola Watson of the Open University as she explores the ways that celebrated authors’ lives have been imagined in the writer’s house museum, looking at a series of extraordinary literary objects – from Shakespeare’s quill to Burns’s bed.

Mon
15
Jun

The Mysteries of Mother Shipton

Who really was Mother Shipton? Did she really foretell Wolsey’s downfall and the siege of York, not to mention the internet, air travel and, famously, the end of the world? Find out more about this legendary wisewoman and what her foresight might mean for us today.

Mon
15
Jun

The Biography of a Biographer

Historian Ruth Scurr delves into the private life of the John Aubrey, one of the pioneers of modern writing, a journalist before the age of journalism, who witnessed the Civil War and the Great Fire of London in the company of some of the influential men and women, high and low, whose lives he would make his legacy.

Fri
12
Jun

Scandal, Sex, and Sedition

To his admirers Charles Pigott was a ‘bold and free-spoken man’; to those who knew him from Newmarket Whig gambling circles, he was someone rather less reputable...

Festival themes