Fear: From Neuroscience to Novels

What part does fear play in the way we anticipate risk and respond to danger?

Explore how neuroscience can help us take control of our fear, how writers use fear to draw us into their imaginary worlds, and the role that fear played in 17th-century England. 

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed around 75% of the City, displaced an estimated 100,000 people, and fuelled a fear of foreigners in the capital. In 2016, stories and imagery of war, famine, displacement, terrorism and climate change from across the globe are ever present in our daily lives.

Award-winning neurologist, Suzanne O’Sullivan, author of The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley, and highly-acclaimed writer and historian, Tracy Borman, discuss the construction of fear and its manifestation in our daily routines as part of the London’s Burning programme. This very special panel is not to be missed.

Suzanne O’Sullivan has been a consultant in neurology since 2004, working first at the Royal London Hospital and today as a consultant in clinical neurophysiology and neurology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. She also works for a specialist unit based at the Epilepsy Society. Alongside her work with those suffering from physical diseases, she has developed expertise in working with patients with psychogenic disorders. Her book exploring the real world of psychosomatic illness, All in Your Head, won the Wellcome Book Prize 2016.

Andrew Michael Hurley is a writer based in Lancashire. His Gothic novel, The Loney, was published by The Tartarus Press in 2014 and by John Murray in 2015 to huge international acclaim, attracting glowing reviews from, among others, Stephen King. The Loney won the 2015 Costa Book Award for best first novel, as well as the British Book Industry award for Book of the Year.

Tracy Borman is joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust. She studied and taught history at the University of Hull and was awarded a PhD in 1997. Tracy is the author of a number of highly acclaimed books, including Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant, Matilda: Wife of the Conqueror, First Queen of England, Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen and Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction. Her latest book is The Private Lives of the Tudors. Tracy is also a regular broadcaster and public speaker. She lives in Surrey with her daughter.

The Barbican rose from the ashes of one of the other great fires, the Blitz. It was developed from designs by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon as part of a utopian vision to transform an area of London left devastated by bombing during the Second World War. 

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