Main content

Mary Midgley

Sue Lawley's castaway is philosopher Mary Midgley.

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the philosopher Mary Midgley. For the last 30 years Mary Midgley has been one of Britain's leading moral philosophers. She has been called "the most frightening philosopher in the country" as a result of her ideas and the acuity with which she defends them. Her work is chiefly concerned with the role of science in our lives; whether human nature exists, and if so, what it tells us about ourselves; the concept of wickedness; and the part that art and religion have to play in telling us about human behaviour and experience.

Mary was born in 1919 in Greenford, the youngest of Cannon Scrutton and his wife Lesley's two children. She was educated at Sommerville College, Oxford and after university began working as a lecturer in the philosophy department at Reading University before moving to the University of Newcastle. She married Geoffrey Midgley, also a philosopher in 1950 and they went on to have three children. Her first philosophical book Beast and Man was published in 1979 when she was 50. Since then she has continued to publish books on a diverse range of issues. Now 86, Mary continues to live in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the home she shared with her husband Geoffrey, who died in 1997.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams
Book: The Variety of Religious Experiences by William James
Luxury: A solar hot water system

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 25 Nov 2005 09:00

Music Played

  • Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

    The Reluctant Cannibal

    • At the Drop of a Hat.
    • Parlophone.
  • Franz Schubert

    Die Post (from Winterreise)

    Soloist: Peter Schreier with András Schiff on piano

    • Winterreise.
    • Decca.
  • Edvard Grieg

    Solveig's Song (from Peer Gynt Suite No. 2)

    Soloist: Elisabeth Söderström Orchestra: The New Philharmonia Orchestra Conductor: Andrew Davis

    • Grieg: Peer Gynt Suites No 1 & No 2.
    • Sony Classical.
  • Benjamin Britten

    Dirge (from Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings)

    Soloist: Peter Pears

    • Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.
    • Decca.
  • Anna Russell

    Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelungs (An Analysis)

    • The Anna Russell Album.
    • Sony.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Ralph Vaughan Williams

      Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

      Orchestra: Academy of St Martin in the Fields Conductor: Neville Marriner

      • Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tellis.
      • Argo.
  • Jean Sibelius

    The Swan of Tuonela

    Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Conductor: Sir Malcolm Sargent

    • Sibelius: Finlandia.
    • EMI.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    The Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave)

    Orchestra: The London Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Bernard Haitink

    • Mendelssohn:Symphonies Nos 3 & 4.
    • Philips.
  • Book Choice

    • The Variety of Religious Experiences - William James

  • Luxury Choice

    • A solar hot water system

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Sue Lawley
Interviewed Guest Mary Midgley

Broadcasts

  • Sun 20 Nov 2005 11:15
  • Fri 25 Nov 2005 09:00

Featured in...

The Desert Island Discs podcast

The Desert Island Discs podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes.

Listen to over 2,000 programmes

Articles

Articles

Read the surprising things we've learned about some stand-out castaways.

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

Featuring David Beckham, the funniest and most moving moments, animations and quizzes.

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

Why does Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece appeal to so many castaways?

Podcast