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Sir Thomas Browne: The Opium of Time

This is a past event which has now ended.

Bestselling writer and doctor Gavin Francis examines the extraordinary life and work of Norwich-based physician, writer, and polymath Thomas Browne through a personal, 21st century lens. In this event, Gavin will draw on his own experiences as a modern day writer and doctor to illustrate that although many centuries separate him from Browne, they share a fundamental curiosity about the world and about people.

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) was an English physician, wordsmith, and polymath who contributed hundreds of words to the English language (such as medical, electricity, migrant, and computer). Gavin’s book The Opium of Time examines Browne’s work through a variety of themes: ambiguity, curiosity, vitality, piety, humility, misogyny, mobility, and mortality. He argues that the work has lost little of its power and wisdom, and none of its beauty.

We were delighted to host Gavin as part of our hugely popular 5×15 event at the City of Literature weekend 2018. It is a pleasure to welcome him back to Norwich for a disc


Gavin Francis is the author of eight books of non-fiction: True North: Travels in Arctic Europe (2008); Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins (2012) which was SMIT Scottish Book of the Year 2013 and shortlisted for the Costa, Ondaatje, Banff, & Saltire Prizes; Adventures in Human Being (2015), which won Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2015, was the Observer’s Science Book of the Year, and was a winner in the BMA Book Awards; Shapeshifters: On Medicine & Human Change (2018), which was a book of the year in the Sunday Times and the Scotsman. Island Dreams: Mapping an Obsession (2020) was shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year; Intensive Care: a GP, a Community, & a Pandemic was published in January 2021 and was a notable book of the year in The Herald, Scotsman, Financial Times, Observer, Irish Times, and New Statesman. Recovery – The Lost Art of Convalescence (2022) was a Sunday Times bestseller, and Sir Thomas Browne: the Opium of Time will be published in spring 2023. His books have been translated into 19 languages.

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He lives in Edinburgh, where he also works as a GP.

Important information

Duration: 1 hour


Concessions: 10% off tickets priced £10 or over for D/deaf or disabled, Full-time students, Go 4Less cardholders and Jobseekers

Under 18: £7.50

Young NNF: £7.50 tickets for ages 18-25 with our FREE YoungNNF membership. Sign up here

Essential Companions: Any audience member requiring an essential carer/companion can get one free ticket. Relevant discounts or concessions still apply to the paid ticket.

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28 May

10:30 am

£7.50 - £10.00

Image credit: Thomas Farnetti


City of Literature is a Norfolk & Norwich Festival and National Centre for Writing presentation, programmed by National Centre for Writing

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