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Karen Armstrong

Sue Lawley's castaway is writer Karen Armstrong.

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the author Karen Armstrong. She writes books about the world's religions, trying to explain that their strength lies not in dogma but profound and enduring truths. Since 9/11 her books on Islam in particular have become best-sellers - although she has also written on Judaism, Buddhism, the Crusades and Christianity.

She was brought up in Birmingham, but at the age of 17 she left her family to become a nun. She had hoped to become enriched by the contemplative life - but it left her feeling a failure, shamed by her inability to pray as the other nuns did. After seven years she turned her back on the convent and became a teacher. Then a chance opportunity to work in television led to her studying the world's religions - and becoming fascinated by the similarities between them. Now she is in great demand as a public speaker - and when she isn't touring the world she says she leads a nun-like life; living alone, contemplating God and thinking about the nature of faith and understanding.

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

Favourite track: 3rd movement of String Quartet in A minor by Ludwig van Beethoven
Book: Complete Works by John Milton
Luxury: Continuous supply of very cold & dry white wine

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 17 Feb 2006 09:00

Music Played

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Suite for Solo Cello No. 2 in D minor - 5th movement

    Soloist: Pierre Fournier

    • Six Cello Suites.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • The monks of the Benedictine Monastry of Santo Domingo de Silos de Silos

    Christus Factus Est

    • Canto Gregoriano.
    • EMI Classics.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major 'Emperor' - 2nd movement

    Soloist: Arturo Benedetti Michaelangeli Orchestra: The Prague Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Václav Smetácek

    • Beethoven:Concerto No 5 Emperor/Symphony No 4.
    • Praga.
  • Bob Dylan

    Visions of Johanna

    • Blonde on Blonde.
    • CBS.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Ludwig van Beethoven

      String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132 - 3rd movement

      Orchestra: Borodin String Quartet

      • String Quartets.
      • Virgin Classics.
  • Seemi Bush Ghazi

    The Destiny Sura

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Clarinet Quintet in A major - 2nd movement

    Soloist: Eduard Brunner Orchestra: The Hagen Quartet

    • Mozart: Weber: Clarinet Quintets.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Franz Schubert

    String Quartet No. 14 in D minor 'Death and the Maiden' - 2nd movement

    Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic String Quartet

    • Schubert:Trout Quintet/Death & the Maiden.
    • Decca.
  • Book Choice

    • Complete Works - John Milton

  • Luxury Choice

    • Continuous supply of very cold & dry white wine


Role Contributor
Presenter Sue Lawley
Interviewed Guest Karen Armstrong


  • Sun 12 Feb 2006 11:15
  • Fri 17 Feb 2006 09:00

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