Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester

Past Event: Wednesday, October 19, 2005

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Sponsored by Stoel Rives, LLP.

The world-roving British author Simon Winchester may be a self-described “bad geologist” but he is unquestionably a masterful spinner of historical and scientific sagas.

Janet Maslin of the New York Times declares Winchester “the leading practitioner” of enlivening science and history with “wonderfully arcane information” and “enthralling trivia.” The Oxford-educated author takes on bold, dramatic tales: a lethal volcano in Krakatoa (2003), the legendary Yangtze River in The River at the Center of the World (1993), and the Great California Earthquake in A Crack in the Edge of the World (2005). But it was an idiosyncratic little story that produced his biggest bestseller. The Professor and the Madman (1998) recounts the unlikely tale of an asylum-bound murderer who helped to write the Oxford English Dictionary. Winchester describes the impact on his sluggish career as a book author: “I’ve had years and years of being completely unsuccessful and unnoticed, and then all of the sudden, with The Professor and the Madman, this volcano, if I can use that metaphor, erupted.”

Working for thirty years as a journalist and travel writer for British newspapers, National Geographic, and other popular periodicals, Winchester has demonstrated his wit and love of quirky details in galloping reports from Asia, the Pacific, and outposts of the British Empire. When not circling the globe, he divides his time between Massachusetts and western Scotland.

Excerpt from Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded—August 27, 1883
And then came the moment when a Delft dinner plate fell off a dining-room table in the old part of Batavia and broke into a thousand pieces. The plate had belonged to Mrs. van der Stok, a middle-aged Dutch lady who at the time of its breakage—shortly after ten minutes to eleven on the Sunday morning—was quite probably setting her table for family luncheon. It had been a part of her trousseau on the day she had married Dr. J. P. van der Stok—the distinguished scientist from Utrecht who had brought her out to Batavia some years before on his appointment as director of the colony’s Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory. The couple lived in a single-story house attached to the observatory, and on that hot and cloudless Sunday morning both could not help but notice that something, somewhere, had gone badly awry.

Selected Work
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded (2003)
The Meaning of Everything (2003)
The Map That Changed the World (2001)
The Professor and the Madman (1998)
The River at the Center of the World (1996)

Links
Author’s website
Contemporary Writers: Simon Winchester

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

Parking
The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.

Accessibility

All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Please contact us at sal@lectures.org or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.