This article is from 2006.
Ask any child: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and it’s unlikely that the answer ‘TV Historian, no question’ will come hurtling back at you. However, Simon Schama has done much to debunk the idea that history is, well, bunk. With his subjectively-titled series A History of Britain, produced as part of the BBC’s millennium celebrations, Schama may have been at pains to emphasise that this was only one man’s account of the history of this archipelago, but his enviable education and shrewd rhetorical presence gave the enterprise a general feeling of weight and authority. On top of all of that, it was great, watchable television.
Now, Schama is preparing to make good on a massive advance from the BBC (further enticement to diffident children still undecided about potential career paths) by promoting The Power of Art, which offers a history of creativity. Focussing on eight great artists, the book expansively discusses the historical moments at which their most remarkable works came into being. As far as the Festival goes, The Power of Art should occasion lively debate, with its depictions of critical depredation and outstanding artistic riposte. (John Regan)
Recommended Reading: The Embarrassment of Riches is his interpretation of Dutch culture in the age of Rembrandt.
24 Aug, 11.30am, £7 (£5).