“Big Brother” entered the world in 1949 as the shadowy villain in a futuristic novel written by a dying man who had almost no future left. Tuberculosis killed George Orwell a few months after the publication of his masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell was only 46, but “Big Brother” — his most famous character — has had a surprisingly long life, making Nineteen Eighty-Four that rarest of literary creations, the novel that grows more relevant with each passing year. Yet the dramatic story behind the writing of the novel is almost as fascinating as the book itself.
That story will be the subject of the Crawley Great Lives lecture by historian Michael Shelden on Feb. 27. A popular speaker, Shelden has written six biographies, including the authorized biography of Orwell, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
The program, sponsored in part by Coldwell Banker Elite, begins at 7:30 p.m. in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium, and is open to the public free of charge.
In her Great Lives presentation on March 1, best-selling author Sally Bedell Smith will discuss the ways in which Prince Charles differs from the stereotyped view of him. As the oldest heir to the throne in three centuries, he created a distinctive role for himself as he waited for the crown. Smith will not only examine that role, she will describe his surprising array of achievements, and how he has pursued his passions as a gardener, painter and advocate for numerous causes. Central to her lecture will be his relationships with his parents, his ill-fated marriage to Princess Diana and the story of his love for Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall. Smith will also address the future of the monarchy, specifically how Charles guided his two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, as they built their lives since the death of their mother.
Sally Bedell Smith, a leading authority on the British monarchy, is the acclaimed author of seven biographies. Her latest, Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, was published in April 2017 and was listed as an instant bestseller by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
Her talk, sponsored in part by Sodexo, will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.
Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, better known as Coco, was born in France in 1883. Growing up in an orphanage, where she was taught to sew, she rose to become an iconic figure in fashion design – particularly noted for popularizing the still-popular “little black dress” – and for developing the Chanel No. 5 fragrance, which she introduced in the 1920s and which is still perhaps the best known perfume in the world. Her personal life was marked by controversy in World War II during the German occupation of France when she was the subject of rumors about a liaison with a German diplomat.
Great Lives speaker Rhonda Garelick of the University of Nebraska writes about fashion, performance, literature, visual art and politics. She is the author of Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History.
Garelick’s talk, part of UMW’s celebration of Women’s History Month, will be held on campus in Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.
At the height of the Great Depression, Sam Babb, the charismatic basketball coach of tiny Oklahoma Presbyterian College travelled throughout the dust-blown countryside, where he recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a rare opportunity to escape the backbreaking work and desperate uncertainty of farm life in 1930s Oklahoma by playing basketball at his school. In the fall of 1931, these “Dust Bowl Girls” embarked on an improbable journey to an epic showdown with the prevailing national champions, led by the legendary Babe Didrikson.
In her Great Lives presentation, author Lydia Reeder will discuss this remarkable moment in American sports history, when a beloved and visionary coach helped his young female athletes achieve far more than a winning season. Ms. Reeder is the author of The Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team that Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory.
The presentation, part of UMW’s celebration of Women’s History Month, will be held on campus in Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.
Few figures in American political history have been as divisive as Richard Nixon – still able to stir passions 50 years after his astonishing comeback clinched the White House amid the chaos of 1968. Great Lives speaker John A. Farrell, in his acclaimed book Richard Nixon: The Life, succeeds at “humanizing” Nixon, said National Public Radio, without excusing his transgressions. The biography also offers gripping new looks at Nixon’s conduct of the Vietnam War, his undermining of the civil rights movement, the politics of polarization and the behavior that led to Watergate.
Farrell is a graduate of the University of Virginia and a prize-winning biographer and newspaperman who covered every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2012. The Washington Post called his book on Nixon “the best one-volume, cradle-to-grave biography” of the elusive 37th president.
Farrell’s talk, sponsored in part by Parrish Snead Franklin Simpson PLC, will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.
Ansel Adams has been described as “photography’s first superstar,” yet the man himself remained something of an enigma until the publication of Mary Street Alinder’s acclaimed biography. In her Great Lives presentation based on that work, Alinder will discuss not only Adams’ technical mastery but also details of his difficult childhood, his connections to photographers and painters who preceded him, and the philosophical influences on his career – as well as his personal life, including his marriage and extra-marital affairs.
Mary Street Alinder is an independent scholar who specializes in the history of photography and is regarded as an eminent authority on 20th-century photography. Her relationship with Ansel Adams began in 1967 and extended over many years, during which she worked closely with Adams, serving as his assistant from 1979 until his death in 1984. In 1996, she published Ansel Adams: A Biography, which was revised and updated in 2014.
The lecture, sponsored in part by Virginia Partners Bank, will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.
In the last of three Great Lives lectures celebrating Women’s History Month at UMW, Patricia Bell-Scott will discuss the friendship between Pauli Murray, an African American writer-turned-activist and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Their association lasted for a quarter of a century, during which an influential friendship developed between Murray, who became a lawyer, civil and women’s rights pioneer, and the first black woman to be ordained as an episcopal priest, and Eleanor Roosevelt, who became a human rights leader in her own right.
The speaker, Patricia Bell-Scott, is professor emerita of women’s studies and human development at the University of Georgia. She is the author of The Firebrand and the First lady: Portrait of a Friendship, on which her talk is based.
The lecture is sponsored in part by Chancellor’s Village, and will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.; it is open to the public free of charge.
Warren Buffett has been called “the most fascinating American success story of our time.” Although the media track him constantly, Buffett has largely kept his life private, especially by celebrity standards. He set out to prove that nice guys can finish first and, over the years, he championed honesty and treated his investors as partners. In the process, he became the world’s richest man, all from the modest Omaha headquarters of his company, Berkshire Hathaway.
The Great Lives speaker on Warren Buffett, Texas native Alice Schroeder, earned her undergraduate degree and MBA at the University of Texas at Austin before moving east to work in finance. As a Wall Street analyst, she attracted the attention of Buffett, who suggested she write full time and agreed to grant her unprecedented access to explore directly with him his opinions, struggles and wisdom. The resulting book, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, was an immediate bestseller and remains the standard biography of Buffett.
The lecture is sponsored, in part, by the UMW College of Business. It will be held in the University’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and is open to the public free of charge.
Napoleon Bonaparte was unquestionably one of the most prominent, and most controversial, leaders in world history. Born in Corsica in 1769, he rose to power as a military and political leader during the French Revolution, becoming Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814 (and again, briefly, in 1815). For more than a decade he dominated European and global affairs. Generally regarded as one of the greatest commanders in history, his campaigns are still studied in military schools around the world, while much of his political and cultural legacy has also endured in various forms.
In the final lecture of the 2018 Crawley Great Lives Series, eminent European historian Jeremy Black provides an analytic perspective on Napoleon’s extraordinary career. The author of more than 100 publications on British and European history, Black, a professor at Exeter University, has been a frequent and popular Great Lives speaker.
His talk is sponsored in part by the Gemini 3 Group, and will be held in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. It is open to the public free of charge.