Serious Minds: The Extraordinary Haldanes of Cloan w/ Richard McLauchlan & Alan Taylor

13 May 2023 – 18:15 BST
Boswell Book Festival
Dumfries House
KA18 2NJ

Join Richard McLauchlan at this year’s Boswell Book Festival where he will be in conversation with Alan Taylor about his latest book Serious Minds, a revealing portrait of a remarkable family that helped to shape the politics, arts and sciences of modern Britain – the extraordinary Haldanes of Cloan.

Serious Minds charts the astonishing range of the Haldanes of Cloan, the remarkable Scottish dynasty who, like the Darwins and Keyneses, helped to reshape modern Britain.

Richard Burdon Haldane was hailed as ‘one of the most powerful … intellects’ British statesmanship had ever seen. His brother John, a great physiologist, invented the first gas masks. Their sister Elizabeth was among the first women to become a senior public servant. Their mother Mary, friend and advisor to top politicians and churchmen, nurtured these exceptional minds.

The next generation was no less distinguished, and included the novelist Naomi Mitchison, author of 85 books, and her brother, the brilliant but controversial scientist JBS Haldane, whose work became the foundation of the concept of the chemical origin of life.

Drawing on extensive family interviews and previously unseen private papers, Richard McLauchlan details scandal, tragedy and achievement within a dynasty that shaped modern Britain–from the welfare state, education system and military, to our understanding of energy, the human body, and the origins of life itself.

About the author

Richard McLauchlan is a Scottish writer, educated at the Universities of St Andrews and Cambridge. He collaborated with John Campbell on acclaimed biography Haldane, also published by Hurst, and has written on the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas, in Saturday’s Silence. Richard co-founded the educational charity Light Up Learning.

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