Professor Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, who has devoted the last 25 years to the vibrant communication of the past. Her speciality is ancient and mediaeval history and culture. A Scholar at Oxford University, she has taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and lectured at Cornell, Bristol, UCL, Maastricht, Utrecht, Manchester and Swansea. She is a Tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education, a Research Fellow of King's College London and recently joined the New College of the Humanities as Professor of History.
Her first book Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore has been translated into ten languages. Her second, The Hemlock Cup, Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life was a New York Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Writer’s Guild Award. Her latest book Istanbul – A Tale of Three Cities was shortlisted for the Runciman Award and was a Sunday Times bestseller. Istanbul A Tale of Three Cities has already been translated into twelve languages. She has written and presented over 50 TV and radio documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, Discovery, PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, BBC World and ITV. Her programmes have now been seen by over 250 million worldwide. In 2010 she was awarded the Naomi Sargent Education Prize for Broadcast Excellence and was given a Special Award for Services to Hellenic Culture and Heritage. In 2011 she was Chair of the Orange Prize for Fiction and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Historical Association and a Fellow of Cardiff University. She was awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal for services to History in 2012. In 2013 she was given an Honorary Doctorate by York University in recognition of her ‘outstanding’ contribution to history and to its international promotion. In 2014 she was awarded the Distinguished Friend of Oxford Award for her contribution to the academic life of the University. In 2018 she was awarded the prestigious European Helena Vaz de Silva Prize for promoting Public Awareness of Cultural Heritage – Bettany was the first woman ever to receive this award. Next year she will be given the International Fem 21 Award for journalism. In 2017 she was chosen as one of London’s 20 most influential cultural people by the Evening Standard in their 1000 awards. In 2019 Bettany became Chair of the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction, and was awarded an OBE for services to history.
Bettany has long drawn attention to women’s position in society both past and present. She was named as one of the BBC’s 100 Global Woman, was asked to launch the UK’s Inspiring Women mentoring scheme and his written extensively on the subject for national and international publications. Bettany stands on the Women of the World Committee. As a commentator she is asked to contribute to The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Prospect Magazine and The New Statesman. Bettany is a judge for the English Heritage Angel Awards, the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year Award and is a reader on the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. She regularly judges for the RTS and Grierson Awards.
Bettany is also an honorary, founding patron of Classics For All - a national campaign to get classical languages and the study of classical civilisations back into state schools and a long-standing patron and supporter of the educational and campaigning charity The Iris Project. She is Vice President of the Churches Conservation Trust and of the National Churches Trust. She was President of JACT, sat on the Innovation Committee of NESTA and has been an advisor to the Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation which promotes large- scale collaborative projects between East and West. Bettany co-produced a 7-part global documentary series about the shared roots of Eastern and Western culture which was premiered at UNESCO in 2013. She initiated and presents the series Ideas That Make Us – the ongoing history of ideas for BBC Radio 4. Her landmark BBC/OU series on Socrates, the Buddha and Confucius and the classical influences on Freud, Nietzsche and Marx can now be seen on Netflix.
Bettany has co-founded SandStone Global, a TV, film and audio production company based at Somerset House, London dedicated to making ‘the best work, by the best people, for the best reasons’. The work of SandStone Global is values-driven and internationalist.