Spring Festival Speakers

Marilynne Robinson is the recipient of a 2012 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for "her grace and intelligence in writing." She is the author of Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award; Home, winner of the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Lila, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Jack, published last year. Her first novel, Housekeeping, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Robinson's nonfiction books include The Givenness of Things, When I Was a Child I Read Books, Absence of Mind, The Death of Adam, and Mother Country. In 2020, she published Jack, the fourth in her "Gilead" series, exploring deeply questions of faith and fate. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa.


Jonathan Pryce CBE  began his career as a stage actor in the early 1970s. His work in theatre includes Hamlet at the Royal Court Theatre . On the Broadway stage he earned Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Play and for his Broadway debut role in Comedians and for  Best Actor in a Musical for his role as The Engineer in the musical Miss Saigon. Pryce's theatre work led to several supporting roles in film and television including comedy film Brazil and big-budget films including Evita, Tomorrow Never Dies), and Pirates of the Caribbean (2003–2007), as well as independent films such as Glengarry Glen Ross ,  Carrington, The New World , and The Wife. In 2019, he earned his first Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Pope Francis in The Two Popes. Pryce's television roles include the High Sparrow in the HBO series Game of Thrones (2015–16) and Sir Stuart Strange in the series Taboo (2017). In August 2020, it was announced that he would succeed Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip in the final two seasons of the award-winning Netflix historical drama series The Crown. 


Rowan Williams is theologian and poet and a Welsh Anglican bishop.  He has written on a wide range of subjects from the Church Fathers to the spirituality of Teresa of Avila and, while the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012, he engaged in theological dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI. Now Baron Williams of Oystermouth he was president of Magdalene College, Cambridge from 2013 till last year.


Sir James Loy MacMillan, CBE is a Scottish classical composer and conductor.



Peter James Stanford is an English writer, editor, journalist and presenter, known for his biographies and writings on religion and ethics. His biography of Lord Longford was the basis for the 2006 BAFTA-winning film Longford starring Jim Broadbent in the title role. Peter will talk about his book Pilgrimage: Journeys of Meaning (Thames and Hudson).


Frank Cottrell Boyce is successful screenwriter as well as novelist. Beginning his career on staff writing jobs on Coronation Street and Brookside, Cottrell-Boyce soon moved into writing for film with a productive working relationship with the director Michael Winterbottom. His debut children’s novel, Millions, was adapted from his screenplay of the same name for the Danny Boyle-directed movie and won the 2004 Carnegie Medal. In 2012 he collected the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for The Unforgotten Coat, an acclaimed novel about two Mongolian refugee children trying to fit in at their Liverpool school. Cottrell-Boyce was also commissioned by Ian Fleming’s estate to write a series of sequels to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the first of which came out in 2011.


Dom Christopher Jamison OSB is a Benedictine monk and former Abbot of Worth Abbey in West Sussex, England. He currently serves as the Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation.



Sarah Sands is a British journalist and author. A former editor of the London Evening Standard, she was editor of the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 from 2017 to 2020.




Francis Spufford was born in 1964. He is the author of five highly-praised books of non-fiction, most frequently described by reviewers as either 'bizarre' or 'brilliant', and usually as both. Unapologetic, has been translated into three languages; the one before, Red Plenty, into nine. He has been longlisted or shortlisted for prizes in science writing, historical writing, political writing, theological writing, and writing 'evoking the spirit of place'. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and lives near Cambridge. His latest book is his first novel, Golden Hill


Mary Colwell is an environmentalist and freelance producer and author. She previously worked for the BBC Natural History Unit, with her husband, Julian Hector. Mary will give an illustrated talk about her recent Camino in Spain and talk about her forthcoming book Beak; Tooth and Claw, Living with Predators in Britain, which like many of her books on conversation and biodiversity, draws from long walks and backpacking trips.



Nick Hamer is a freelance documentary filmmaker, director, cameraman and editor. My work has been screened by major broadcasters, international film festivals and independent cinemas. 




Erik Varden, O.C.S.O. is a Norwegian Roman Catholic spiritual writer and Bishop-Prelate of the Roman Catholic Territorial Prelature of Trondheim since 1 October 2019. 




Chine McDonald is head of community fundraising & public engagement at Christian Aid. Prior to that, she led the media & PR team there and before that led in fundraising and communications roles in other faith-based charities. She read theology & religious studies at Cambridge University and is a regular contributor to BBC Religion & Ethics programmes, including Thought for the Day on Radio 4’s Today programme, the Daily Service, Pause for Thought and Prayer for the Day. She also sits on a number of charity boards, including Greenbelt Festival and Christians in Media. Her second book God Is Not a White Man & Other Revelations will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in May 2021.




Gloria Purvis is a graduate of Cornell University and she worked for nearly two decades in the mortgage industry before becoming a risk management  director at a major financial services company. She served on the National Black Catholic Congress’ Leadership Commission on Social Justice, and as an Advisory Board Member on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s Respect for Life Department as well as the Archdiocese of Washington’s Pastoral Council. 



Lucy Clare Winkett is a British Anglican priest, who since 2010 has been the Rector of St James's Church, Piccadilly. Her early ordained ministry was spent at St Paul's Cathedral, London, where she was a minor canon and chaplain from 1997 to 2003, and the canon precentor from 2003 to 2010.


Ruth Kelly was Secretary of State for Education and Skills (2004-5), and also held Cabinet portfolios for Transport and Communities under a Labour Government. Until recently she was Pro-Vice Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham. She now serves on the Vatican’s Council for the Economy, having been trained as an economist at Oxford and the LSE.



Paul Vallely CMG is a British writer on religion, ethics, philanthropy and international development. In his seminal 1990 book Bad Samaritans: First World Ethics and Third World Debt, he first coined the phrase that campaigners needed to move "from charity to justice" – a slogan that was taken up by Jubilee 2000 and Live 8. The first English biographer of Pope Francis, his latest book is Philanthropy – from Aristotle to Zuckerberg.



Michael Symmons Roberts FRSL is a British poet. He has published eight collections of poetry, all with Cape, and has won the Forward Prize, the Costa Book Award and the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, as well as major prizes from the Arts Council and Society of Authors. He has been shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Ondaatje Prize.



Jimmy Burns OBE  was born in Madrid , and studied at Stonyhurst College, University  College (London), and the London  School of Economics.He is an award-winning journalist and author. His books include The Land that  Lost its Heroes,  Papa Spy, and biographies of Diego Maradona (The Hand of God) and Pope Francis (The Pope of Good Promise).



Fr Nick King, SJ is a Jesuit of the British Province. He was educated at Stonyhurst, and then read Greats (“Classics”) at St John’s College, Oxford. He was ordained and taught for two years at Heythrop (1980-1982), and two years at St Aloysius College, Glasgow. He then did his Jesuit tertianship in Spokane, Washington State. After that he taught at Stonyhurst for four years. He then went to South Africa and taught New Testament (and even some Moral Philosophy.) He returned to the United Kingdom in 2001, ostensibly for three years, but has been teaching New Testament and related languages at Campion Hall ever since.



Paul Elie is an American writer and editor.





Alexander True, Business Partner, joined Sarasin & Partners in 2014. He has worked in financial services for 16 years, most recently at Newton Investment Management where he managed international private clients and Trusts, as well as investment models. He qualified with a degree in Experimental Psychology from Bristol University, holds the Private Client Investment Advice and Management Diploma (PCIAM), Investment Management Certificate (IMC) and is a Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment.

Richard Maitland, Partner, Head of Charities, joined Sarasin & Partners in 1992, was appointed Head of Charities following the merger between Chiswell Associates and Sarasin in 2003 and is a member of the Executive Committee. He specialises in strategy and the management of diversified, multi-asset portfolios. He is author of the Sarasin & Partners Compendium of Investment, which has now been published for 20 years and is Director of the £2bn Sarasin Charity Authorised Investment Funds. Richard has lectured at The Judge (Cambridge), University of Vienna and University of Stellenbosch business schools and runs the Trustee Training Programme for the CFG. He is Chairman of the Investments Advisory Committee of St Paul’s Cathedral.