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Why History Matters - Dr. Bettany Hughes
Posted 18/04/2016 04:41PM

For our most recent guest, esteemed historian Dr. Bettany Hughes, “History is the study of humanity, of life. It is not the study of death.” The award-winning historian, author, and broadcaster visited TASIS England on April 16, and shared with students her passion for ancient and medieval history and culture. After recently writing and presenting a new landmark BBC series on Socrates, Buddah, and Confucius, Bettany has set her sights on a new series focusing on the classical influences on Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx.

For sixth grader Caleb S., who introduced Bettany to his middle school classmates, it is through history that we learn about ourselves. According to Caleb, “We learn how our everyday actions, technology, and language originated … but most of all, we learn how our society became what it is today.” Bettany’s presentations throughout the day echoed that same sentiment. Her conversations with middle school students included “Why History Matters,” while 9th graders received an inside look at “The Hemlock Cup,” Bettany’s New York Times bestselling history. She closed the day with an in-depth cultural history of Athens and Sparta for 6th grade students currently studying the topic – many of whom have just returned from a spring break trip to Greece.

With more than 25 years dedicated to her craft, Bettany has firmly established herself as a Hellenophile and subject matter expert, frequently consulting on historical productions for the film and television industries. She spoke with students about the writing process and shared her very first attempt, a manuscript she penned at the age of five shortly after her visit to the blockbuster Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition held at the British Museum in 1972. “I remembered thinking: Wow! All those stories I had heard, all those fairy tales of hidden chambers and murky depths and princes buried in gold … they’re all true!”

Her first book, “Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore” has been translated into ten languages. She has written and presented more than 50 television and radio documentaries for BBC, Channel 4, Discovery, PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, Discovery, BBC World and ITV. 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.

Middle School English and History teacher Matthew Bagley made Bettany’s visit possible. “I feel so proud, honored, and lucky to work in a school like TASIS, and with such wonderful people. Bettany was blown away by the warm welcome she received from everyone, the beauty of the campus, and most importantly, by the students!” Mr. Bagley shared.

Learn more about Dr. Bettany Hughes online at

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