Melvyn, Baron Bragg, FRSL, FRTS (born 6 October 1939) is a British author and broadcaster.
Bragg was born in Wigton
, the son of Mary Ethel (Park), a tailoress, and Stanley Bragg, a stock keeper turned machinist. He attended the Nelson Thomlinson School
in Wigton and then read Modern History
at Wadham College, Oxford
in the late 1950s. Bragg says that he has suffered two nervous breakdowns in his life, one in his teens, and another in his 30s.
Bragg married his first wife, Lisa Roche, when he was 21, and they had one child.
He did not know that she had a history of suicide attempts; 10 years later, she killed herself . "I could have done things which helped and I did things which harmed," he told the Guardian in 1998. "So yes, I feel guilt, I feel remorse."
Bragg's second wife, Catherine (Cate) Haste, whom he married in 1973 is also a writer, having, among other things, edited the 2007 memoir of Clarissa Eden, widow of Sir Anthony Eden, and collaborated with Cherie Booth, wife of Tony Blair, in a 2004 book about the wives of British Prime Ministers.
He is a friend of Tony Blair, the former Labour Prime Minister.
He started his career in 1961 as a general trainee at the BBC
and in his role as writer and broadcaster
in 1967, spending his first two years in radio at the BBC World Service
, then at the BBC Third Programme
and BBC Home Service
.. He then successfully applied to join the production team of Huw Wheldon
arts series on BBC Television
. He is perhaps best known for the London Weekend Television
(LWT) arts programme The South Bank Show
, which he has written, edited and produced since 1978. He has been Controller of Arts at LWT since 1990 (including a stint as Head of Arts from 1982 to 1990). He is also known for his many programmes on BBC Radio 4
, including Start the Week
, which he presented for ten years, In Our Time
, and The Routes of English
, a history of the English language
Bragg is a prolific novelist
and writer of non-fiction
, and has written a number of television and film screenplays
. He is president of the National Academy of Writing
. His 2008 novel, Remember Me
is a largely autobiographical story.
Bragg is cited as the first person recorded to use the word "prat" to mean "fool". The earliest reference to this use is from his 1969 novel Without a City Wall.
Honours and awards
Bragg was appointed to the House of Lords
in 1998 as a Labour life peer
, under the title Baron Bragg
of Wigton in the County of Cumbria.
In 1999 Bragg was appointed Chancellor of the University of Leeds. He is also President of the National Campaign for the Arts (since 1986), President of the mental health charity Mind, and a Governor of the London School of Economics (since 1997). He was made Domus Fellow, St Catherine's College, Oxford, in 1990, he received an Honorary Fellowship from Wadham College, Oxford in 1995 and he holds 13 honorary doctorates. He became a member of the Arts Council Literature Panel in 1969 and has since become Chairman.
On 17 October 2005 Bragg officially opened the "Melvyn Bragg Drama Studio", named in his honour, at Millom School, Millom, Cumbria.