Romanes Lecture - Bonfire of the Humanities

This lecture took place in The Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford on Wednesday 2 June 2011.


In his lecture, The bonfire of the humanities: what is the case for supporting the arts and humanities?, Sir Andrew Motion will reflect on his personal experiences – as a poet, biographer, as a professor of creative writing, and as Poet Laureate – to set out how the arts and humanities gave him what he describes as "his life". He will also take a very critical look at present Government policy on the arts and humanities and what this might mean for the future social, economic and cultural well-being of the nation. Sir Andrew will read four short poems as a way of demonstrating why the arts and humanities should matter in the twenty-first century.

Speaker: Professor Sir Andrew Motion FRSL

Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorised life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Andrew Motion’s novella The Invention of Dr Cake (2003) was described as ‘amazingly clever’ by the Irish Times and praised for 'brilliant and almost hallucinatory vividness' by the Sunday Telegraph. His memoir, In the Blood (2006), was described as 'the most moving and exquisitely written account of childhood loss I have ever read' in the Independent on Sunday. His most recent collection of poems, The Cinder Path (2009), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to poetry in 2009.