British Academy celebrates Tony Harrison with star-studded event

3 May 2017

The British Academy celebrated the 80th birthday of poet-playwright Tony Harrison with an evening of readings, tributes and performances from some of Britain’s leading cultural figures.

Hosted by Lord Melvyn Bragg, Honorary Fellow of the British Academy, the event on Thursday, 27 April featured contributions from Vanessa Redgrave, Andy Burnham MP, Sir Richard Eyre, Barrie Rutter, Jasper Britton, Sian Thomas and Professor Edith Hall.

Andy Burnham explained how reading Harrison’s poetry as a student had made him realise that poetry could have a Northern accent, while Sian Thomas, Jasper Britton and Barrie Rutter gave performances of extracts from Harrison’s plays in which they had starred. Vanessa Redgrave read his poem Losing Touch, while director Sir Richard Eyre had composed a poem of his own in tribute to Tony Harrison.

To conclude the evening, Tony joined Lord Bragg in conversation and read from some of his repertoire.

This event was organised in connection with the British Academy Conference ‘New Light on Tony Harrison’, convened by Professor Edith Hall of King’s College London. Speakers at the two-day conference included Professor Simon Armitage, Lee Hall and Professor Blake Morrison.

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