Marina Warner

Public lectures and Talks


15th November 2018, 6.30pm
Panel Discussion at British Academy
Thinkers for our time: Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) is recognised as the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. An innovative writer of European stature in almost every genre from poetry to autobiography, and an early enthusiast for world literature, Goethe was also an impassioned investigator in many areas of natural science. As a self-declared ‘citizen of the world’, Goethe’s body of work, and openness to the world, continue to inspire and resonate today. Chaired by Ritchie Robertson, our panel will discuss his life and legacy.
Thinkers for our time is a series re-thinking the life and work of influential figures from across the Academy’s disciplines, particularly history and the arts. This is the sixth in the series, following events exploring Sigmund Freud, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Malthus, Sylvia Pankhurst and Charlie Chaplin.
More information here


9th March 2017
The David Fickling Lecture – Marina Warner – Stories on the move: suffering, sanctuary, danger
Can myths, legends and stories provide alternative shelter? Can literature offer sanctuary in times of dislocation and loss? A place where a refugee, a migrant, or a wanderer might feel at home? In today’s geopolitical upheavals, when millions of people are on the move, how do narratives travel between cultures and languages?


14th December 2016
Visiting Pilkington Professor of Art History, Marina Warner
Marina’s first event will be a public lecture, ‘Sanctuary: Places of Safety, Zones of Exclusion’

1st – 4th December 2016
Moscow: British Council authors’ trip to the Book Fair
Lecture by Marina Warner “Travelling Tales and Flying Carpets: Words on the Move”. British Council Russia, 4th December 2016, The State Tretyakov Gallery. 
Myths, folklore and fairy tales are filled with impossible fantasies, irrational beliefs and savage scenes; yet they are an archive of human thinking about human existence. Marina Warner, following some of the roads stories have travelled, will explore the power of reasoned imagination, its capacity to connect with real life experience, and to redraw ideas of love, justice, and fate. More info here. Stream the lecture on YouTube here.

13th June 2016, 2pm
Aby Warburg 150: Work, Legacy and Promise at The Warburg Institute University of London
On 13-15 June 2016, the Warburg Institute celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Aby Warburg. At the centre of this commemoration we are holding a conference dedicated to his work and heritage. It will reclaim the centrality of Warburg’s thought and vision not only for the London Institute but for the world of international scholarship. A large group of distinguished scholars will discuss the implications of his thought for the history of art, images and cultures. The aim will be not only to illuminate the past, but to reveal the potential of his writings for the debate about contemporary cultural differences as well.
Speakers: Andreas Beyer, Horst Bredekamp, Robert Darnton, Lorraine Daston, Georges Didi-Huberman, Frank Fehrenbach, Uwe Fleckner, Kurt Forster, David Freedberg, Carlo Ginzburg, Christopher Johnson, Philippe-Alain Michaud, Peter Miller, WJT Mitchell, Andrea Pinotti, Ulrich Raulff, Elisabeth Sears, Quentin Skinner, Anke te Heesen, Martin Treml,Martin Warnke, Marina Warner, Claudia Wedepohl, Sigrid Weigel and Cornelia Zumbusch.
Weidenfeld Chair in Comparative European Literature Lecture by Marina Warner, held at St Anne’s College Oxford.

13th May 2016 – 14 May 2016
Marina Warner on ‘The Bearer-Beings’: Portable Stories in Displaced Times’
Watch the recording of this talk below:

11th May 2016 5.30-7pm
Marina Warner on The Sanctuary of Stories: Asylums and Edges

4th May 2016 5.30-7pm
Marina Warner on The Sanctuary of Stories: Enclaves and Moorings
Watch the lecture on the The Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust’s YouTube channel here.

27th April 2016 5.30-7pm
Marina Warner on The Sanctuary of Stories: Worlds of Words at St Anne’s College, Oxford
Marina Warner is an award winning novelist, short story writer, historian and mythographer, who works across genres and cultures exploring myths and stories. Recent work has focused particularly on the magic of fairy tales and the Arabian Nights, including Stranger Magic (2011), and Once Upon a Time (2014). In Fly Away Home: Stories (2015) she draws on mythic predecessors, translating them into contemporary significance. In 2015 she was awarded the prestigious Holberg Prize, and was also Chair of the judging panel for the Man Booker International Book Prize. She is a Quondam Fellow of All Souls, and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Watch the talk over on YouTube, here.

12th May 2016
Dame Marina Warner delivers the inaugural lecture of her series on ‘The Sanctuary of Stories’, the video of the lecture can be viewed on YouTube here.

8th of March 2016 6.30-8pm
RCA Visual Cultures Lecture Series 2015/16
Rise up & Envision – Arabesque – Catherine David & Marina Warner
Gorvy Lecture Theatre, RCA Dyson Building
For the forthcoming Visual Cultures Lecture Series we are pleased to welcome Catherine David & Marina Warner who will present their recent research and discuss gender, politics, and contemporary art. The conversation will be chaired by Margarita Gluzberg, Research Tutor at the RCA School of Fine Art. The lecture is free and open to all – it will be live broadcast by this is tomorrow.
More information here.


3rd December 2015
Reading the World: Changing the Dynamics of Canon Formations – Keynote Address
A video and audio podcast is now available for the ‘Reading the World: Changing the Dynamics of Canon Formations – Keynote Address’, held on Thursday 3 December 2015 at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Speaker(s): Co-chairs: Professor Rose Levinson (PhD), Professor Francesca Orsini (PhD), Marina Warner.
This podcast is now available on the SAS website, YouTube and iTunes U. All details can be found here.

June 9th, 2015
Holberg Prize Lecture: “Losing Home, Finding Words: Transformations of Story”, held at the University of Bergen.
A video of the lecture can be watched here.


30th September 2013
‘Voices without Borders – Travelling Tales and Literary Heritage’, Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study
Several of Boccaccio’s stories include special motifs and plots with links to the Arabian Nights. Above all, the general character of his storytelling reveals lively interactions across linguistic and political borders. Can literature offer a contrasting perspective on the conflicts of the past? Where are the borders in the sea of stories? Marina Warner will look at ways in which customary oppositions and divisions are treated in the wonder tale or marvellous fictions of the Mediterranean. Organised in conjunction with the conference ‘Boccaccio and Company: An Introduction to the Decameron’ at the British Library. Listen to Marina’s talk on YouTube here.


Distinguished Lecture Series, University of Warwick, April 2012
‘The Tales Things Tell: Charmed Goods in the World of the Arabian Nights’
Genies appear in the Quran, the apocrypha, folklore and mystical literature, but probably the best known appearances of them in literature are in the Arabian Nights. In her Distinguished Lecture Series talk, Marina Warner explains why genies are inexorably linked with objects such as Aladdin’s lamp.


Marina Warner has given many other lectures and seminars and participated in conferences in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Australia and the United States, in universities and institutes including, for example, the Getty Museum, the National Gallery London, Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St Andrew’s.

Marina has lectured for the British Council, in Japan, the University of the West Indies (Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia), Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, and the Ukraine.

Readings, panel discussions, and debates at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, The Purcell Room, London, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Edinburgh Books Festival, et al.

  • Alan Marre Maccabaeus Lecture: ‘Stranger Magic: The Psychic Geography of Darkness’, University College London, 2005
  • Carpenter Lecturer, Institute of the Visual Arts, Harvard University, 2003
  • The Perrot-Warrick Lecture at Trinity, 1998
  • John Coffin Lecture, University of London, 1997


  • Robb Lecturer, University of Auckland, 2004
  • Clarendon Lecturer, Oxford, 2001
  • Tanner Lecturer, Yale University, 1999
  • BBC Radio 4 Reith Lecturer: ‘Managing Monsters’, 1994 – listen back here.