New Generation Thinkers

Documentaries presented by two of Radio 3's New Generation Thinkers.


Fern Riddell uncovers the astonishing life of Kitty Marion - a German child who fled her brutal father for a new life in Victorian England, where she built a career as a singer and actress in theatres and music halls.

But why would a woman like this, in a precarious profession, neither young nor wealthy, become a Suffragette?

As Riddell discovers, Marion was driven to protest by a culture endemic in the backstage world: sexual assault.

But once she became a Suffragette, Marion soon found herself in prison. Her hunger strikes were dealt with by warders forcing a feeding-pipe up her nose. In one stint in gaol she endured this 232 times.

Along the way, Marion had graduated from marching and breaking windows to far more violent activity. She was convicted of burning down a racecourse - but Riddell examines evidence that she was involved in many more fires, from country houses to railway stations.

Finally, after war came in 1914, this extraordinary woman was denounced as a German spy. Pressured to leave the country, she faded into obscurity. But, asks Riddell, do the likes of Kitty Marion deserve a more prominent place in our history of the campaign to win women the vote?

Producer: Phil Tinline


Gregory Tate explores why so many scientists have been inspired to write poetry and the relationship between their artistic work and their science.

The Cornishman Humphry Davy was a pioneer of modern science, whose lectures drew huge crowds. But, inspired by his friendship with the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge, throughout his life he wrote poems - including one about breathing nitrous oxide.

Physician Eramus Darwin; mathematician William Rowan Hamilton; astronomer William Herschel; - all wrote poetry. More recently, the 'father' of the atom bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Erwin Schrodinger, and Miroslav Holub interrogated their scientific work in verse.

Gregory Tate visits the Royal Institution in London which, as well as a laboratory, houses a large archive of poetry by scientists, and the lab in Trinity College, Dublin, where Physics professor, Iggy McGovern, develops ideas for synchrotron radiation techniques, and poems. McGovern has written a sonnet sequence on mathematician Hamilton.

Using scientific investigative techniques Gregory enquires how has poetry offer scientists a fresh perspective on their research, talking to Sharon Ruston, co-editor of Humphry Davy's letters, Daniel Brown, author of 'The Poetry of Victorian Scientists', and the poets Mario Petrucci, who has a PhD in Optoelectronics, and Ruth Padel, a descendant of Erasmus Darwin. We hear their poetry, and verse by Humphry Davy, John Tyndall, John Herschel and Rowan William Hamilton.

Producer: Julian May.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Sun 2 Nov 2014 18:45

Related topics

Six Secret Smuggled Books

Nelson mandela

Six classic works of literature we wouldn't have read if they hadn't been smuggled...



Seven images inspired by the grid

World Music collector, Sir David Attenborough

JS114374909 attenborough large trans K8oq TXSPAJ0t21o ESlo XRk CIv3505 E63j Nj QF1 Hma4

The field recordings Attenborough of music performances around the world.

Attenborough's field recordings

Attenborough's field recordings

The unlikely music performances captured while searching for exotic animals to film.