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Dr Bettany Hughes

Professor Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, who has devoted the last 25 years to the vibrant communication of the past. Her speciality is ancient and medieval history and culture. A Scholar at Oxford University she has taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and lectured at Cornell, Bristol, UCL, Maastricht, Utrecht and Manchester. She is a Tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education and a Research Fellow of King's College London. This year she will join the New College of the Humanities as Visiting Professor. Her first book Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore has been translated into ten languages. Her second, The Hemlock Cup, Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life was a New York Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Writer’s Guild Award. She has written and presented over 50 TV and radio documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, Discovery, PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, Discovery, BBC World and ITV. Her programmes have now been seen by over 250 million worldwide. In 2010, she was awarded the Naomi Sargent Education Prize for Broadcast Excellence and was given a Special Award for services to Hellenic Culture and Heritage. In 2011 she was Chair of the Orange Prize for Fiction and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Historical Association and a Fellow of Cardiff University. She was awarded the Norton Medlicott Award for services to History in 2012. In 2013 she was given an Honorary Doctorate by York University in recognition of her ‘outstanding’ contribution to history and to its international promotion. In 2014 she was awarded the Distinguished Friend of Oxford Award for her contribution to the academic life of the University and this year will be given the International Fem 21 Award for journalism. Bettany has long drawn attention to women’s position in society both past and present. She was named as one of the BBC’s 100 Global Woman, was asked to launch the UK’s Inspiring Women mentoring scheme and his written extensively on the subject for national and international publications. Bettany stands on the Women of the World Committee. As a commentator she is frequently asked to contribute to The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Prospect Magazine and The New Statesman. Bettany is a judge for English Heritage Angel Awards, The Art Fund’s Museum of the Year Award and is a reader on the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. She regularly judges for the RTS and Grierson Awards. ​

Bettany is also an honorary, founding patron of Classics For All - a national campaign to get classical languages and the study of classical civilisations back into state schools and a long-standing patron and supporter of the educational and campaigning charity The Iris Project. She is Vice President of the Churches Conservation Trust and of the National Churches Trust. She was President of JACT, sat on the Innovation Committee of NESTA and has been an advisor to the Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation which promotes large-scale collaborative projects between East and West. Bettany co-produced a 7 part global documentary series about the shared roots of Eastern and Western culture which was premiered at UNESCO in 2013. This year she will be making a 15-part series on the history of ideas for the BBC. Following the success of Pompeii Live (where a private view of the exhibition was screened live to cinemas across the UK) she presented Vikings Live for the British Museum. ​

Bettany recently wrote and presented a new landmark BBC series on Socrates, the Buddha and Confucius and followed that up with a new series on the classical influences on Freud, Nietzsche and Marx. For the last decade she has been researching a new history of Istanbul, which was published in 2017. ​​

Bettany is currently making a film with SandStoneGlobal, of which she is a co-founder, on the life story of Aphrodite.

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