Fri, 2 September 2022

6:00 pm - 7:15 pm BST

Magnificent Rebels – The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self

Andrea Wulf

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In the 1790s, an extraordinary group of friends led a revolution of the mind that still frames our way of being and living. This is their story.

Andrea Wulf’s unforgettable, Costa Prize winning The Invention of Nature transported us across the globe with one of the most extraordinary scientists who ever lived, Alexander Von Humboldt.

Now she is back with another story of German thinkers who changed the world – and whose ideas still matter profoundly to how we live today.

Based in the small German town of Jena, through poetry, drama, philosophy and science, they transformed the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. They were the first Romantics. Their way of understanding the world still frames our lives and being.

We’re still empowered by their daring leap into the self. We still think with their minds, see with their imagination and feel with their emotions. We also still walk the same tightrope between meaningful self-fulfilment and destructive narcissism, between the rights of the individual and our role as a member of our community and our responsibilities towards future generations who will inhabit this planet.

The first Romantics changed the world. It is impossible to imagine our lives, thoughts and understanding without the foundation of their ground-breaking ideas.

Praise for Andrea Wulf’s Magnificent Rebels:

‘[A] big, thrilling and constantly surprising book, which achieves a global reach in ideas all of its own… Altogether it is a glorious piece of work, both thought-provoking and magical, and I loved it.’ Richard Holmes

‘Magnificent Rebels is a magnificent book: mesmerising, heart-breaking and incredibly timely, it is an important reminder that the desire to be true to oneself transcends time and borders.’ Amanda Foreman

‘This is a magnificent book, fascinating in its focus and breath-taking in its scope and sweep. It is a work of formidable scholarship worn lightly; of complex intellectual history told evocatively, absorbingly, compellingly.’ Robert Macfarlane

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Andrea Wulf

Award-winning author

Andrea Wulf was born in India, moved to Germany as a child, and now lives in London. She is the award-winning author of five books. Her previous book, The Invention of Nature, was an international bestseller and won more than 10 awards, including the Royal Society Science Book Award 2016, Costa Biography Award 2015, the Inaugural James Wright Award for Nature Writing 2016 and the LA Times Book Prize 2016. Andrea has written for many newspapers including the Guardian, LA Times and New York Times. She was the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013 and a three-time fellow of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. She appears regularly on TV and radio.