David Edgar leads discussion on King James Bible

21 February


The Word for All Time: Is the King James Bible really so special?

9 March, 2011 at 6.30pm, Stationers' Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London, EC4M 7DD

Marking the 400th birthday of the King James Bible, the Royal Shakespeare Company, in association with The Guardian, is hosting a panel discussion at Stationers' Hall in London on 9 March 2011.

Alongside Shakespeare's works, the King James Bible is credited with inventing the very language that we speak.

The panel will discuss the contribution of this one book to British culture, its provenance and purpose, and how it relates to the English Bibles which came before and after.

The panel will be led by playwright, David Edgar, whose play about the making of the King James Bible, Written on the Heart, will premiere in the RSC's Swan Theatre at Stratford in the autumn (more details to be released in the spring).

David Edgar will be joined by Canon Dr Giles Fraser, Professor Ralph Williams and Dr Peter McCollough. Further panel members will be announced in due course.

David Edgar said: “The King James Bible is treated as a book written by comfortable clerics working in committees in panelled halls. In fact, it sits on the shoulders of the English Bibles which went before it, many of them written in exile, and two by men who died at the stake for their work. Its story is the story of the English Reformation, the greatest upheaval in the second millennium of English history. No wonder it still excites controversy today”.

The majestic Stationers' Hall is a Grade I listed building, close to St Paul's Cathedral. It is one of the few ancient Livery Halls remaining in the City of London. Completed in 1673 after the Great Fire of London, it is a particularly significant venue to hold this discussion. It is in this hall, over nearly a year, that the translators of the King James Bible listened to the words (which were ultimately meant to be heard) as they were read aloud.

Further information

For more information and interviews, please contact Nada Zakula in the RSC Press Office on 01789 412622 or nada.zakula@rsc.org.uk

Notes to Editors
  • Tickets available from the RSC Ticket Hotline on 0844 800 1110 or www.rsc.org.uk - £12 (£10 for Guardian Extra Members)

Panel Biographies

  • David Edgar's plays have been presented by the National Theatre, many repertory companies here and abroad, and on television, radio and film. His award-winning work for the RSC includes Destiny, Maydays and Pentecost as well as a noted adaptation of Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby. His new play for the company, Written on the Heart, opens at Stratford-upon-Avon in October. He founded Britain's first postgraduate course in playwriting, and is President of the Writers' Guild.
  • The Reverend Canon Dr Giles Fraser is Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral and the Director of the St Paul's Institute. As Canon Chancellor, Dr Fraser fulfils the role of resident Canon, with special responsibility for contemporary ethics and engagement with the City of London as a financial centre. He writes for The Guardian is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day
  • Dr. Peter McCullough is Sohmer Fellow, and Head of English Literature at Lincoln College, Oxford University. He specialises in Early Modern Religious writing, particularly that of Lancelot Andrewes and John Donne. He is also the Lay Canon (History) at St Paul's Cathedral, London
  • Dr. Ralph G. Williams is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research and teaching focusses on Shakespeare, the Bible, the history of medieval and renaissance literature, and Primo Levi. He has served as Head of the the University's programme on Studies in Religion and has published on Neo-Latin poetics, and on editorial theory across the humanities. He has had the happiness of special involvement with the collaboration between the University and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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