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Tom Stoppard: A Life

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 5:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0084
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Gen. Admission
Gen. Admission + Book
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Tom Stoppard is a towering and beloved literary figure. Known for his dizzying narrative inventiveness and intense attention to language, he deftly deploys art, science, history, politics, and philosophy in works that span a remarkable spectrum of literary genres:  theater, radio, film, TV, journalism, and fiction. His most acclaimed creations—Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Real Thing, Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Shakespeare in Love—remain as fresh and moving as when they entranced their first audiences.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Stoppard escaped the Nazis with his mother and spent his early years in Singapore and India before arriving in England at age eight. Skipping university, he embarked on a brilliant career, becoming close friends over the years with an astonishing array of writers, actors, directors, musicians, and political figures, from Peter O’Toole, Harold Pinter, and Stephen Spielberg to Mick Jagger and Václav Havel. Having long described himself as a “bounced Czech,” Stoppard only learned late in life of his mother’s Jewish family and of the relatives he lost to the Holocaust.

Join acclaimed author Hermione Lee as she discusses her new biography of one of our greatest living playwrights, which draws on a wealth of new materials and on her many conversations with him. She is joined in conversation with longtime Stoppard collaborator, director, writer, and producer Carey Perloff for a fascinating examination of Stoppard’s work and a riveting look at the life a remarkable man.

Lee is an emeritus professor of English literature at Oxford University whose work includes biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Philip Roth, Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather, and Penelope Fitzgerald (winner of the James Tait Black Prize and named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by the New York Times). She is a fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013 Lee was made a dame commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to literary scholarship.

Perloff recently completed a 25-year tenure as artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She collaborated with Stoppard on the West Coast premiere of The Hard Problem, directed the American premieres of Indian Ink and The Invention of Love, and productions of Arcadia, Rock 'n Roll, Travesties, The Real Thing, and Night and Day.

Signed copies of Tom Stoppard: A Life (Knopf) are available for purchase (select General Admission + Book price).

Book Information

The featured book with a bookplate signed by the author is included with the General Admission + Book price.

UPDATE: Books will be shipped by Politics and Prose to your home address, so please review the accuracy of your name and address at the time of registration. Per the bookseller, they will receive the complete list of book purchasers connected to this program on March 5. Please allow up to 2 weeks after that date for book delivery.

If you are not interested in purchasing the book with your program ticket, you can select the General Admission price only.

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