2023 T. S. Eliot Lecture with Jeanette Winterson

Photograph of Jeanette Winterson

This year Jeanette Winterson will deliver the annual T. S. Eliot Lecture on 17th December at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

Journey of the Magi

Were we led all that way for Birth or Death?

Eliot’s poem, Journey of the Magi tells the story of the journey of the Wise Men to the Christ Child. Beginnings and endings are hinged in the poem. Nearly 100 years later, many of us are wondering about what is ending – and hoping it is not the world. Many of us are wondering what comes next?

Homo Sapiens. Wise Men. Not so much. We are a species urgently in need of a re-set. Our next journey needs to be more ambitious than a trip to Mars.

We’ve all read the Doomsday scenarios of Terminator-style AI. But what if AI is our best bet? The chance of an evolutionary advantage that will lead us away from our biological inheritance?

At present all AI is a tool. What if that changes? What if Artificial Intelligence becomes Alternative Intelligence? A new non-biological life-form invented by us and in partnership with us? Are we engineering the End of Human, or moving towards a new beginning?  Or is that the same thing?

The end is where we start from…


Presented at the Abbey Theatre since 2016 and inspired by Eliot’s legacy and impact on modern literature, previous speakers include Paul Muldoon, Steven Pinker, Samantha Power, Sean Scully, Edna O’Brien, Es Devlin and Sally Rooney.

This year’s lecture, Journey of the Magi, is named for T. S. Eliot’s 1927 poem of the same name and will be delivered by Jeanette Winterson followed by an in conversation with Mark O’Connell.


Jeanette Winterson CBE is a British writer. After graduating from Oxford University, she published her first novel at 25. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is based on her own upbringing but using herself as a fictional character. She scripted the novel into a BAFTA-winning BBC drama. 27 years later she re-visited that material in her internationally bestselling memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

She has written thirteen novels for adults, three collections of short stories, as well as children’s books, non-fiction, and screenplays. Drawing on her years of thinking and reading about AI, Winterson published her first non-fiction book on AI, 12 Bytes: How Artificial Intelligence Will Change The Way We Live and Love, in July 2021. Night Side of The River: Ghost Stories is her latest book.