by Matthew Parris
1 Jul 2021
A Times Biography of the Year Ada Lovelace. Frederick Douglass. Vladimir Lenin.
Marie Curie. Frieda Kahlo. Carl Jung.
Tupac Shakur. All geniuses who changed the world in ways that still influence our lives today. And all men and women who experienced, in childhood, trauma so severe that it should have broken them completely.
While presenting Great Lives on Radio 4, Matthew Parris noticed a trend in the lives of the exceptional people the programme covered: many of them had been marked by extreme trauma and deprivation. They seemed to have succeeded not only in spite of their backgrounds, but perhaps even because of them. As Matthew Parris brings each individual's story to life in this original and compelling study, it becomes clear that we must rethink the origins of success, as well as the legacy of trauma.