Talks in the Library have been postponed until it is again possible.

Details of online talks are currently shown on the Home page.

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Postponed Talks:

                                        Talk: "Putin - a new Cold War?"

Christopher Danziger has taught modern European History for much of his life. He was formerly Head of History at St Edward’s School, and a lecturer at the universities of Durham and Cape Town. For the past 15 years he has been a tutor in the O.U. Department of Continuing Education. His special interests are in Napoleonic France and Romanov Russia, on both of which he has written extensively.

There has recently been much talk of a "new Cold War" and Putin is routinely demonised in the West, but Christopher Danziger argues that had the West treated Russia differently in the days after the fall of  Communism, present day relationships might have been collaborative rather than competitive. Has Putin has turned out to be the leader whom the West wished on Russia? 

                                        Talk: "Iran - Foe or Friend?"

Jack Straw was MP for Blackburn from 1979 to 2015 and was one of only three Cabinet ministers to serve continuously throughout the Labour Governments of 1997 to 2010. He is perhaps the only individual to have held the three Great Offices of State, namely Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Justice Secretary.

Jack will talk about his recent book: 'The English Job - Understanding Iran, and why it distrusts Britain' , which received wide critical acclaim. Straw has made seven trips to Iran. In October 2015 he, his wife and two friends tried to take a holiday in Iran. It did not work out as planned. The bizarre story of this 'holiday' in which Straw and his party had to be given police protection against other security agencies of the same state will open his talk. It will conclude with some acute analyses of Iran today.

                                        Talk: "Brexit and the Constitution"

Thursday Talks are part of the Friends' fund-raising activities.

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Thursday 4th November on Zoom


former Reuters correspondent and author talked about 

"Half a Century in Tuscany"

Thursday 13th May on Zoom


expedition leader for 'Ice Maiden' talked about 

"Expedition Ice Maiden: The First All-Female Team to cross Antarctica"

Thursday 15th April on Zoom


a career Diplomat talked about

"The House of Lords: Past, Present and...Future?"

Thursday 18th March on Zoom


Emeritus Professor of English Law  talked about

"UK - EU Relations post-Brexit"

Thursday 18th February on Zoom


World-reknowned geneticist and cell-biologist talked about

"What is Life?"

Thursday 14th January on Zoom


 Oxford Emeritus Professor of Politics, and advisor on the Soviet Union to Margaret Thatcher  talked about "Gorbachev, Reagan, and Thatcher, and the End of the Cold War" 

Thursday 10th December 2020 on Zoom


A features writer for The Spectator and The Telegraph. talked about "Bletchley Park - A Hothouse of Talents. What happened to those Codebreakers after the War?"

Thursday 13th February 2020


An Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University who has received many awards and prizes for the popularization and communication of mathematics and its history.

"Sir Isaac Newton - his life, labours and legacy"

Thursday 23rd January 2020


An award-winning museum curator, writer and historian of time, cities, technology and engineering. As well as collaborating on museum exhibitions and displays, he has written books on timekeeping, mathematics and urban planning, and is currently writing a history of clocks and civilization.

"The History of Time"


Thursday 5th December 2019


Following his arrival in England in 1968, Peter established a highly successful career in London as a neuroscientist, specialising in diseases of the nervous system. A Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Trustee of Alzheimer's Research UK he took up writing on his retirement.

"Parallel Lines" - a childhood journey to Belsen and life thereafter

Thursday 14th November 2019


holds a number of senior academic posts and his main interests are in the fields of international security, international organizations, and international law  He has also worked extensively on the role of civil resistance against dictatorial regimes and foreign rule.

Civil Resistance - from Prague to Hong Kong

Thursday 17th October 2019


an award-winning author, teacher and literary journalist

'The Jewish Journey' - told through 22 Objects from the Ashmolean Museum

Thursday 16th May,

MARCUS FERRAR - Marcus Ferrar is a former Reuters correspondent and author of books about Germany, Eastern Europe and freedom.
He is Chairman of Friends of Summertown Library.

​ Dresden: the destruction and renewal of a European jewel

Thursday 4th April,

HENRY MACRORY - Deputy and acting editor of The Sunday Express, political correspondent, and responsible for  political communications in Downing Street under the Coalition Government

Ultimate Folly - The Rises and Falls of Whitaker Wright, Britain's most shameless swindler (and builder of the world's strangest folly!)

Thursday, 7th March

ALASTAIR LACK  - After 26 years making TV and radio programmes for the BBC, mainly with the World Service, Alastair now works freelance in Oxford in journalism, tutoring and Oxford City guiding

Travels with Auntie - my Life with the BBC World Service

​Thursday 14th February

BART VAN ES -Professor of English Literature at Oxford University and author

A Childhood in Hiding

Thursday 13 December 2018,

Sophie Hackford - Oxford based futurist and business builder

"Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’): Our Last Invention?"

Thursday 15 November 2018

Dr Rebecca Bowler, Oxford astronomer

The Universe: the First Billion Years 

Thursday 11 October 2018

Deborah Gill, Professor of Gene Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital

What's new in gene medicine and gene therapy?


Thursday 17 May 2018

Professor Anand Menon
'Brexit - where have we got to, and where are we heading?'


Thursday 12 April 2018

John Kay

'Economics: not dismal, and probably not a science'

Thursday 15 March 2018

Douglas Carswell

'Britain: a democracy or an oligarchy?'

15 February 2018

Professor Carolyn Steedman

'Poetry for Historians: or, W.H. Auden and History'


23 November 2017

Colin Tudge  

'Building  a New Future for Food and Farming'

19 October 2017

Professor Dame Marina Warner 

'Sanctuary: Can Stories give Shelter?'

 15 June 2017

Professor Margaret MacMillan: 'The Meaning of the First World War' 

4 May 2017

Professor Rana Mitter: 'China: Yesterday and Today'


16 March 2017

Sir Adam Roberts: 'In the Age of Brexit and Trump: a new

   international order?

2 February 2017 

Sir Muir Gray: ‘Beyond the NHS: knowing our way to good health’


17 November 2016

Dr Taj Hargey: ‘A House Divided: Rifts in Contemporary Islam’

13 October 2016

Sue Jones: 'Who loves Greece today?’​

2 September 2016

Professor Archie Brown: ‘What’s so great about strong leaders?’

9 June 2016

Dr. Sudhir Hazareesingh: ‘Thinking about the World, French-style’

28 April 2016

Professor Eugene Rogan: ‘The Making and Unmaking

    of the Modern Middle East’

24 March 2016

Lord Blair (Sir ​Ian Blair) : ‘The House of Lords:

    continuity, abolition or reform?’


3 December 2015

Richard Davy: ‘Putin – What drives him?'





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