Views of liberty in these islands have been polarised. On the one hand, it has been proclaimed as a marked and precocious British achievement and quality ("Britons never shall be slaves!"). On the other hand, the British state has often been viewed as a conspicuous agent of un-freedom: a polity that in the past practised empire overseas and internally, and that lacks still a written constitution and a modern bill of rights. Professor Linda Colley, guest curator of Taking Liberties, and philosopher Professor AC Grayling discuss and dissect this mixed heritage and reputation.

Historian and Princeton scholar Linda Colley is author of Britons: Forging the nation 1707-1837 and Captives: Britain, Empire and the world 1600-1850.

AC Grayling is a writer and professor of philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. His many books include Towards the Light: The story of the struggles for liberty and rights that made the modern west.

Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £6 (concessions £4) (advance booking recommended)

This event is part of the British Library's Taking Liberties series

For more information and bookings see