The story of how an obsessive relationship with history killed the young Polish writer Stanislawa Przybyszewska, told by best-selling author, Hilary Mantel. The brilliant Przybyszewska wrote gargantuan plays and novels about the French Revolution, in particular about the revolutionary leader Robespierre. She lived in self-willed poverty and isolation and died unknown in 1934. But her work, so painfully achieved, did survive her. Was her sacrifice worthwhile? "She embodied the past until her body ceased to be," Dame Hilary says. "Multiple causes of death were recorded, but actually she died of Robespierre."
Over the course of these five lectures, she discusses the role that history plays in our lives. How do we view the past, she asks, and what is our relationship with the dead? The lecture is recorded before an audience in the ancient Vleeshuis in Antwerp, a city which features in Mantel's novels about Thomas Cromwell and the cosmopolitan world of the early Tudors. The lecture is followed by a question and answer session chaired by Sue Lawley.
The producer is Jim Frank.