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Barbaric Genius

Matthew Sweet discusses Barbaric Genius, a new documentary charting the story of writer John Healy from street mugger to international chess champion and award-winning author.

Matthew Sweet will be talking to the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson about the theologian, Jean Calvin and what she believes is his profound influence on the great tradition of American literature.

Also in the programme, the writer John Healy. After fifteen years of living on the streets of London as an alcoholic, Healy discovered chess in prison, and then wrote an acclaimed autobiography, The Grass Arena. As a new documentary, Barbaric Genius, sets out to unravel the tangled story of how that publishing success turned into infamy, John Healy talks to Matthew about his life and his writing.

Available now

45 minutes


Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.