Speakers 2017

Charles Anson

Charles Anson was in the British Diplomatic Service for 20 years, during which he served twice at the British Embassy in Washington, latterly as Embassy spokesman during the Falklands Campaign. Previously, he was posted to Tehran up to and including the Revolution of 1978/79, during which he and other colleagues in the Embassy were briefly taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries. In London, Anson worked at Number 10 Downing Street as press officer for two Prime Ministers, James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher, between 1979-81. From 1990-97, Anson was a Press Secretary to The Queen during a difficult period (Annus Horribilis). He was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) by Her Majesty in 1996 for services to the Royal Family.

Anson is currently a communications consultant working with the media in public and private sector roles. He is married to Juliet Nicolson, author and social historian. They live in Sussex near Charleston.

Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell is the author of over 50 novels published in 30 countries in 28 languages and has sold over 20 million books worldwide. His highly popular Last Kingdom book series, based on the Saxons and the Danes in the 9th and 10th century Britain, features the enigmatic Uhtred Ragnarson. Two of his novels have been made into television hits in the States and the UK. Fools and Mortals, which follows the life of Richard Shakespeare, is a dramatic new departure, although the Elizabethan era is one of Cornwell’s favorite periods of British history. It is published in the UK this fall and in the States in early 2018. “Cornwell really makes history come alive.” (George R.R. Martin)

Bernard Cornwell was born in London. He and his American wife now divide their time between Cape Cod and Charleston, SC.

Dominic Dromgoole

Dominic Dromgoole was the Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London from 2006 to 2016. In that time the Globe grew into an international theater of progressive ambition and radical scope. Amongst other projects, Dromgoole created a UK-wide touring operation and grew this touring internationally, culminating in a two-year tour of Hamlet which travelled to every country in the world. In 2012 he directed the Globe to Globe Festival, which hosted companies from 37 different countries. Dromgoole is the author of The Full Room: An A-Z of Contemporary Playwriting and of Will and Me: How Shakespeare Took Over My Life. His latest book Hamlet: Globe to Globe was published in the US earlier this year.

Dromgoole recently launched a new film company and made his first feature, Making Noise Quietly. He has also launched a new theater company which will present a series of Oscar Wilde plays in the West End this autumn.

Belinda Gergel is the former Chair of the History and Political Science Department at Columbia College. The author of numerous works on South Carolina history, she was co-editor of Matthew J. Perry: The Man, His Times, and His Legacy. She has served as President of the Historic Columbia Foundation and the SC Jewish Historical Society and on the boards of Brookgreen Gardens and the Southern Garden Historical Society. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC, and chairs the board of the Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie Trust. Dr. Gergel was elected to the Columbia City Council in 2008. She was the recipient of the Palmetto Trust/Governor’s Elected Official Honor Award in 2009 for her work in support of historic preservation in South Carolina. She relocated to Charleston in 2012 to join her husband, United States District Judge Richard Mark Gergel.

Belinda Gergel


Jonathan Green is a nationally acclaimed and awarded artist who graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982. His track record of creating art and extensive inclusions in museum collections and exhibitions throughout the world has led to Green being considered a leading contemporary American artist. His is a highly recognizable visual mastery for capturing the positive aspects of American and African American Southern culture, history, and traditions.

Green has received numerous honors and awards for his artistic, social, civic, academic, and cultural contributions. He serves on the International African American Museum and Gailliard Auditorium Boards in Charleston, SC, and may cultural advisory committees throughout the south. In recent years, he has combined his role as artist with co-creating the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project, which builds partnerships to explore, reveal, and reclaim the shared cultural inheritance of the Lowcountry rice industry. He currently resides and paints in his studio located in Charleston, SC.

Jonathan Green


Carter Hudgins is the President and CEO of Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, which safeguards America’s earliest examples of Palladian architecture and the oldest preserved plantation house still open to the public. Before working at Drayton Hall, Hudgins also served as site supervisor and archaeologist for the Jamestown Rediscovery Project in Jamestown, VA. He also taught at the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary, and is published in Antiques and Fine Art, Antiques, Early American Studies, and other magazines, journals, and edited volumes.

Carter Hudgins


Nan Morrison is a professor emeritus of English at the College of Charleston where she taught Shakespeare and Southern Literature, wrote articles in those areas, and held the Maybelle Higgins Howe Chair. A lecturer in the Lifelong Learning Series at the Charleston Library Society, she is the author of The History of the College of Charleston 1936-2008.

Nan Morrison


Virginia Nicholson is the daughter of art historian and writer Quentin Bell, acclaimed for his biography of his aunt Virginia Woolf, and Anne Olivier Bell, editor of the five volumes of Virginia Woolf’s Diaries. She spent her childhood summers at the home of her grandmother, Bloomsbury artist Vanessa Bell, at Charleston in Sussex.

Her first book (co-authored with her father) Charleston - A Bloomsbury House and Garden was published in 1997. In 2002 she published Among the Bohemians - Experiments in Living 1900-1939 to critical acclaim. Since then she has published Singled Out - How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War, Millions Like Us - Women’s Lives in War and Peace 1939-1949, followed by Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes - The Story of Women in the 1950s.

She lives with her husband, screenwriter and novelist William Nicholson, in Sussex close to Charleston, where she is a trustee.

Virginia Nicholson


William Nicholson is a screenwriter, novelist and playwright. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story, both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama Award. In 1988 he received the Royal Television Society’s Writer’s Award. His first play, an adaptation of Shadowlands for the stage, went on to a Tony Award winning run on Broadway. He was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of the film version. Since then his film credits include: Sarafina, Nell, First Knight, Grey Owl, Gladiator (as co-writer, for which he received a second Oscar nomination), Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Les Miserables, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Unbroken, and Everest.

His novels for adults are The Society of Others, The Trial of True Love, The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life, All the Hopeful Lovers, The Golden Hour, Motherland, Reckless, The Lovers of Amherst - which centers on the life of Emily Dickinson - and Adventures in Modern Marriage. He has also written fantasy novels for children.

He lives in Sussex UK with his wife, the social historian and granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, Virginia Nicholson.

William Nicholson


Juliet Nicolson is the author of two works of history, The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War, and The Perfect Summer: Dancing into the Shadow in 1911, and a novel, Abdication. Her current book is a memoir, A House Full of Daughters. “Nicolson makes it easy to see why she woudl be fascinated by her family especially the women. In quick, colorful strokes, she sketches a series of vivid portraits...Nicolson is a marvelous writer, with a wonderful eye for detail.” -New York Times Book Review. She lives with her husband Charles Anson not far from Sissinghurst, where she spent her childhood, and close to Charleston, Sussex.

Juliet Nicolson


Ben Okri has published many books including The Famished Road, which won the Booker Prize in 1991, The Age of Magic, Dangerous Love, In Arcadia, and Astonishing the Gods. He has published ten novels, three books of short stories, two collections of essays, and three volumes of poems, the latest being Wild. His works have been translated into 26 languages. He has been a Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His books have won numerous international prizes including hte Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Africa and the Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction. He is a vice-president of the English Centre of International PEN. Ben Okri was born in Nigeria, and lives in London.

Ben Okri


Barbara Bellows Rockefeller is a writer and historian who has published books and articles on aspects of the history and culture of the American South. For many years she was a professor of history at Middlebury College. She has been a fellow of the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina, where she received a PhD. Rockefeller has also been a member of the Governing Council of the Rockefeller Archive Center and a Fellow at the National Humanities Center. She has served on the Board of Trustees for both the National Humanities Center and Hollins College. She is the biographer of Josephine Pinckney, a founding member of what became known as the Charleston Renaissance.

Barbara Bellows Rockefeller


Miranda Sawyer is an English journalist and broadcaster. Besides her features and radio criticism for the Observer newspaper, her writing has appeared in GQ, Vogue and the Guardian. She is a regular arts critic in print, on television and on radio. Her most recent book is Out of Time. She is currently writing her third book, entitled Long Term, about long-term relationships, to be published in 2018. She broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 and for The Culture Show (BBC TV). She is on the board of the Tate Members, the South London Gallery and Sound Women.

Miranda Sawyer


Frances Spalding is an art historian, biographer and critic. She has wrtten 15 books, including a centenary history of the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain and Tate Modern). Her biographies include lives of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry, adn in 2014 she curated the exhibition “Virginia Woolf: Life, Art and Vision” for the National Portrait Gallery and wrote the accompanying book of the same title. She taught at Newcastle University where she was Professor of Art History, and left to take on the role as Editor of the Burlington Magazine. She is currently a fellow of Clare Hall at Cambridge University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Frances Spalding


Marjorie Spruill teaches women’s history, Southern history and recent American history at the University of South Carolina. She is the author of New Women of the South and the editor and co-editor of several anthologies, including The South in the History of the Nation. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of American Studies, the journal of the British Association of American studies. She lives in South Carolina.

Marjorie Spruill


Margaret Bradham Thornton is the Editor of Tennessee Williams’ Notebooks, for which she received the C. Hugh Holman Prize for the best volume of southern literary scholarship. Her debut novel, Charleston, was published in 2014, and her next novel, A Theory of Love, will release in May of 2018. A native of Charleston and a graduate of Princeton, she attended Cambridge University and worked on Wall Street.

Margaret Bradham Thornton


Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, UK, to a 17 year old single mother. She was brought up by Pentecostal adoptive parents and raised to be a missionary. Shortly after graduating, she published her first book, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, a fictionalized account of her unconventional childhood and adolescent rebellion, which brought her instant critical acclaim and fame. Her subsequent books include Sexing the Cherry, Written on the Body, Art and Lies, The Passion, Gut Symmetries, The Powerbook, her memoir, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? and The Gap of Time. Winterson has won numerous awards for her work and is published in 18 countries. She is Professor of New Writing at the University of Manchester.

Jeanette Winterson