Salon Series

In its Salon series of lectures the Legatum Institute hosted scholars, writers, artists and public figures who, in conversation with an invited audience, discussed some of the issues that are fundamental to the success of societies that are free, prosperous and enterprising.

Ranging widely across the arts, sciences and humanities, the lectures promote a discourse between cultural, philosophical, economic and political modes of enquiry.

The Salon Series has now finished, however, the Legatum Institute's work on how culture contributes to prosperous societies continues. Further information available here.

Past Events in the Salon Series

Prosperity on the Edge: 1913-14 The Last Year of Peace (Autumn/Winter 2013)

An extraordinary period in human history came to a sudden and cataclysmic end in the summer of 1914. Nineteenth century Europe was an expansionist and prosperous civilisation. Its economy boomed, the arts and humanities flourished, scientific progress accelerated, personal liberty became the birthright of increasing numbers of people. And from 1871 onwards, Western Europe was at peace. The Autumn lecture series relived the last year of peace as experienced in the lives of key individuals. Their achievements and pre-occupations in the year 1913-14 illustrate the multi-faceted nature of a brilliant culture - one whose legacy helped to shape the world we live in today.

rowan williams 

Ideas: The Deadly Simplicities of Adolf von Harnack: Liberal Theology in Germany on the Eve of the Great War 

8 January 2014

Theologian and former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, gave a lecture on historian Adolf von Harnack's influence in the last year of peace (1913), as well as the way in which post-war thought was shaped by the reaction against his kind of liberal religion.

bonnie greer

Prosperity on the Edge: A Mayfair Salon Evening in 1913

15 November 2013

Chancellor of Kingston University, playwright, novelist and critic, Bonnie Greer, blended readings from Proust, Joyce, Saki, Pound and Yeats. Her lecture was accompanied by a musical performance from the 'Jazz Warriors', who performed an eclectic blend of modern jazz/improvisation mixed with classics of Debussy, Stravinsky and more.

justine picardie

Entrepreneurship: A Century of Chanel

17 October 2013

Justine Picardie, Editor-in-chief, Harper's Bazaar UK discussed how designer Coco Chanel's entrepreneurial rise to fame in 1913 created an explosive impact that continues to reverberate today.

vernon bogdanor


Diplomacy: Sir Edward Grey and the Crisis of July 1914

26 September 2013

Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of History, King’s College London delivered a lecture which examined the role and contribution of the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, in the final months of peace in 1913.

1953-2013 Promise of Freedom Series (Spring 2013)

Marking the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen, the Legatum Institute hosted a series of lectures exploring the relationship between British and American culture in the period 1953-2013. How did the creative arts in the UK impact on the American cultural scene, and vice-versa? The series also explored the contribution of culture to wider transatlantic political, social, and economic trends, reflecting the Legatum Institute’s focus on gaining a comprehensive understanding of prosperity.


The Arts of Peace and War 1953-2013

20 June 2013

Lieutenant-General Simon Mayall, Senior Adviser Middle East, Ministry of Defence, discussed the intellectual and cultural context of military strategy and warfare. The lecture served as a reminder that no aspect of the life of a society can be studied in isolation: the arts and the humanities flourished during this period first under the shadow of the cold war, and at the turn of the millennium the conflicts in the middle east became an inescapable part of the public debate in British and American culture. 


Women On Stage: Theatre, Liberty, and Prosperity

23 May 2013

Dame Harriet Walter delivered a talk on changing attitudes towards women, and the evolution in the understanding of women's theatrical roles, in the history of the drama in Britain during recent decades. While omen first appeared on stage as actors in the theatres of restoration London in the 1660s, it was only in the late twentieth century that womankind really came into her own in the history of drama.


Three Poems of George Herbert

21 April 2013

World Premiere of three choral works composed by Sir John Tavener and commissioned by the Legatum Institute. Tavener's choice of three works by the early 17th century poet George Herbert were set to music, taking the audience back to an earlier chapter in the transatlantic story - the time when religious and political radicals fled the Church and State establishment of England in order to embrace the freedom promised in the new American colonies.


The Changing Face of Royal Portraiture

14 March 2013

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, discussed the changing face of royal portraiture and how the iconography of the Queen as portrayed in the immense variety of portraits that have been painted of her since 1953 has reflected the changing relationship between the Sovereign and her subjects.


"Where Are We Now?" Are the Arts of Any Use

26 February 2013

Lord Gowrie, a former Cabinet Minister with responsibility for the Arts under Margaret Thatcher delivered a collection of his poems for the inaugural lecture of this series. He has published several acclaimed collections of verse, and his lecture concentrated on how British and American poetry influenced each other during the 1953-2013 period.