Alexandra Harris

On air...

Forthcoming in 2016. 'During Wind and Rain': A 10-part ‘narrative history’ series for Radio 4. Produced by Tim Dee.


August-September 2015 'A Walk of One's Own – Virginia Woolf on Foot', a 4-part series on Radio 4, produced by Sara Jane Hall. Tuesday mornings at 9.30 from 11 August. In the first episode I follow Woolf to Southern Spain, where she visited her friend Gerald Brenan in 1923. In the remote mountain village of Yegen, I hear stories of how she sat sunbathing under citrus trees…

February 2015. Radio 3 Sunday Feature 'Eric Ravilious: Chalk and Ice'. Includes interviews with Hermione Lee, Frances Spalding, Peter Davidson and Robert Macfarlane – and a visit to the wonderful Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden.


September 2014. My programme about Mrs Dalloway will be on BBC4 and iPlayer.

July 2014 Review on Free Thinking of Virginia Woolf at the National Portrait Gallery on BBC Radio 3.

August 2013. Interval talk during Prom 51 on BBC Radio 3. A discussion with Sam West of Britten’s poetic settings.

June 2013. Review on Nightwaves of Chagall: Modern Master at Tate Liverpool.

April 2013. Review on Nightwaves of Paul Nash and Clare Nielson at Pallant House in Chichester.

March 2013. The Essay: 'A Taste for the Baroque', recorded in Bristol for BBC Radio 3's 'Baroque Spring'. You can ‘listen again’ to my essay on the architectural legacy of baroque in Britain, as well as other essays in the series by writers including Tessa Hadley and Chloe Aridjis.

February 2013. I go down onto the Thames shore to talk about Frost Fairs and painting in Tales of Winter for BBC4.

January 2013. The Art of Winter on BBC 4. In a series of contributions to this documentary, I go down onto the shingle by the Thames and up onto windy rooftops in the footsteps of Abraham Hondius, who painted London’s frost fairs in the seventeenth century. I also talk more generally about the history of winter art.

January 2013. Radio 3 Sunday Feature: 'A Brief History of Being Cold'. I present 45 minutes of poetry, music and ideas about our experience of cold. I go out in the snow with Simon Armitage and visit Katherine Swift’s garden in Shropshire. There are contributions from A.S. Byatt, Richard Hamblyn, Adam Gopnick, Francis Spufford, and Peter Davidson, and readings by Fiona Shaw. This programme is best heard indoors on a dark, frosty evening, but you can listen anytime using this link.

October 2012. Twenty Minutes: 'A Darker Shade of Green'. I contributed with Lara Feigel to an exploration of pastoral between the wars.

October 2012. Discussion on Nightwaves: As ash die-back reached crisis point, I discussed the cultural significance of ash trees with A.S. Byatt.

September 2012. Discussion on Nightwaves: 'The Pursuit of Happiness'. While economists gave their interpretations of the 'well-being' agenda, I looked at the history of happiness in literature.

May 2012. I contributed to the BBC project My Own Shakespeare, a series in which 29 people chose a passage from Shakespeare and talked about its particular significance for them. The series was produced by Jeremy Mortimer and Lucy Collingwood, and all the My Own Shakespeare podcasts are available to download.

May 2012. Discussion on Nightwaves of the Ashmolean's major new exhibition The English Prize. The show is a kind of time capsule, displaying the cargo recovered from the Westmoreland when it was captured by French privateers on its way from Livorno to London. On board were the souvenirs purchased by young men on the Grand Tour, from prints, sculptures and watercolours to helpful guide books and parmesan cheeses.

May 2012. Discussion on Nightwaves of the British Library exhibition 'Writing Britain', which features works that have helped to shape our ideas of place and landscape.

April 2012. Nightwaves special on the British landscape. A panel discussion with writers Martin Palmer and Tristram Gooley, and Fiona Reynolds, director of the National Trust. Presented by Juliet Gardiner.


January 2012. The long winter evenings have made me think about the history of artificial light. Listen here to my essay 'Light in the Dark'.


December 2011. A brilliant new exhibition of Graham Sutherland's work opens at Modern Art Oxford, curated by the artist George Shaw. Richard Cork and I discussed Sutherland on 2016. ‘During Wind and Rain’. A 10-part ‘narrative history’ series for Radio 4. Produced by Tim Dee. August-September 2015 ‘A Walk of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf on Foot’, a 4-part series on Radio 4, produced by Sara Jane Hall. Tuesday mornings at 9.30 from 11 August. In the first episode I follow Woolf to Southern Spain, where she visited her friend Gerald Brenan in 1923. In the remote mountain village of Yegen, I hear stories of how she sat sunbathing under citrus trees… Front Row.


November 2011. I will be at Radio 3's 'Free Thinking Festival' in Gateshead on 5th November, and as it's bonfire night I'll be talking about fireworks. I love a firework display, whether it's an extravaganza on the Thames or sparklers in the back garden. I wanted to know more about the history and the art of fireworks - from China, to medieval mystery plays, to eighteenth-century pomp, to our modern civic celebrations. Listen to my programme 'Twenty Minutes' here.


July 2011. Tim Dee produced an excellent series of programmes on the theme of 'Dark Arcadias' for The Essay on radio 3. I contributed an essay on Rex Whistler, Cecil Beaton, and arcadian fantasies between the wars. It's not available on Listen Again but details of the series are here.

The Wilton estate, much loved by Rex Whistler


June 2011. Each of the New Generation Thinkers (see below) presented a short piece on Nightwaves to give a taste of their research. I gave a first public outing to my very embryonic thoughts about English culture and the weather in a 'A Brief History of Being Cold'.


June 2011. I am very excited to have been chosen as one of ten New Generation Thinkers in a collaborative scheme run by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Radio 3. Read the Guardian article about the scheme here.

Here we all are (as featured on the Guardian front page!):