Welcome to the One Culture Festival
This year we are celebrating the anniversary of the foundation of the library and collections of the Royal Society. It all started small, with a single book, and a tiny one at that. Diplomat, natural philosopher and founder member of the Royal Society, Kenelm Digby donated this gift and thereby inspired others to do likewise. In this way he initiated what has now grown into a national treasure. What could be more fitting for a celebration than a festival for literature, arts and science! Its apt name ‘One Culture’ confronts the famous C.P. Snow lecture “Two Cultures” (1959), which pointed out that modern society suffered from a lack of communication between sciences and humanities, and reminds us that the separation of science from other cultural achievements is both artificial and unnecessary.
Looking at this wonderfully colourful programme, it is clear that science is represented in literature far more than is commonly assumed, and we are delighted to feature a number of contemporary authors who can speak to this fact. It is time also to do away with another artificial separation, the idea that different aspects of science, literature and arts, appeal to different age groups. The festival features family events, theatrical performances, discussions, and talks in the wild abandon you should expect of ‘One culture’. We are extremely proud that superstars of science and literature have agreed to contribute to the experience and that mathematicians, astronomers and biologists will be present alongside historians of science, science writers, poets and novelists, many of whom are household names in the sciences as well as in the creative arts.
Professor Uta Frith FRS