The Mark Steel Lectures
The Mark Steel Lectures are a series of television programs written and delivered by Mark Steel,
looking at historic figures that radically changed the political and cultural landscape of the Western world.
The series consists of eighteen lectures, each of which presents persuasive, yet witty, arguments for the
importance of a historical figure. Mark Steel delves into the lives and works of famous historical figures
whose ideas and originality have shaped the world from 200 BC to the present day. But their private lives
often contained secrets that would have been tabloid scandals and fodder for gossip columnists in the modern
era. Amid the historical debate that surrounds these figures, Mark Steel paints his own provocative picture
of these figures of genius, dedication, conviction, oddness and above all, passion.
The historical figures include those who have a global appeal across the fields of art, literature, science and politics, such as Aristotle, Che Guevara, Isaac Newton, Lord Byron, Rene Descartes, and Sigmund Freud.
Lectures 01 - Lord Byron
Mark Steel follows the glorious life of Lord Byron from his birth just off Oxford Street in London to his death in Greece thirty-six years later.
Lectures 02 - Isaac Newton
Mark Steel explores the world and the discoveries of Isaac Newton.
Lectures 03 - Sigmund Freud
Mark Steel reveals the absurdity and complexity of that genius as he travels from Vienna to London in Freud's wake.
Lectures 04 - Aristotle
Mark Steel traces the history of Greek Philosophy from Pythagoras to Plato to Aristotle.
Lectures 05 - Charles Darwin
This tells you things about Darwin you never knew - including his opinion on the taste of Galapagos tortoise urine.
Lectures 06 - Karl Marx
This reveals the real Marx and explains what made Marx's theories so revolutionary and why Marx wasn't a Marxist.
Lectures 07 - Ludwig van Beethoven
Mark Steel sets Beethoven in his revolutionary context and reveals the quirks of his character the history books gloss over.
Lectures 08 - Leonardo da Vinci
Mark Steel gets close to some of Leonardo's greatest works, and finds out what The Last Supper has in common with EastEnders.
Lectures 09 - Mary Shelley
This traces the tragedy-filled life of Mary Shelley who is famous for the novel Frankenstein.
Lectures 10 - Thomas Paine
This lecture is about Thomas Paine who wrote the Rights of Man and helped inspire the American War of Independence.
Lectures 11 - Sylvia Pankhurst
This traces Sylvia Pankhurst's life from schooldays in radical Manchester to retirement in rural Essex.
Lectures 12 - Albert Einstein
A great physicist but a lousy father, Einstein played with the nature of space and time as easily as he did his beloved violin.
Lectures 13 - Oliver Cromwell
This traces the life and work of Oliver Cromwell who would eventually turn down the offer from Parliament to become the King of England.
Lectures 14 - Charlie Chaplin
This is about the life and times of Charlie Chaplin who, on the one hand, counted Churchill and Gandhi as personal friends and who, on the other, fell down stairs for a living.
Lectures 15 - Rene Descartes
This looks at the life and times of Rene Descartes who was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic.
Lectures 16 - Geoffrey Chaucer
This examines the life of Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the Father of English literature.
Lectures 17 - Harriet Tubman
This looks at the life of Harriet Tubman who was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War.
Lectures 18 - Che Guevara
Mark Steel travels to South America and turns his attentions to the life and revolutionary times of Ernesto Che Guevara.