Welcome to Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley received his BA and D Phil at Oxford researching the evolution of behavior. He has been science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor of The Economist. He has a regular column in The Daily Telegraph. He is also the author of The Red Queen (1993), The Origins of Virtue (1996) and Genome (1999). Matt Ridley is currently the chairman of The International Centre for Life.

Dr Matt Ridley is the author of 'Nature and Nurture, the international best-seller 'Genome', as well as 'The Origins of Virtue' and 'The Red Queen'. His books have been translated into 23 languages and have been short-listed for six literary prizes.

He is chairman of the International Centre for Life, a Ј70 million science park and education project. He is also deputy Chairman of Northern Rock plc, chairman of Northern 2 VCT, and a director of Northern Investors Company plc and PA Consulting. He lives near Newcastle upon Tyne.


Full Name:

Matthew White Ridley.


7th February 1958


BA (1st) in Zoology, Magdalen College, Oxford, 1979
DPhil in Zoology, Oxford, 1983


Married to Dr. Anya Hurlbert, Reader in Visual Neuroscience, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Two children.


The Economist 1983-92,
Science Correspondent (1983-4),
Science and Technology editor (1984-7),
Washington Correspondent (1987-89),
American Editor (1990-92).

Freelance journalism:

Columnist for Sunday Telegraph 1993-1996;
Columnist for Daily Telegraph 1996-2000;
Articles and book reviews for The Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, New Scientist, Prospect, New Statesman, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Discover, Natural History and other publications.

Prizes and awards:

Glaxo science writer's award for best science article 1983
Rhone Poulenc prize for science books (short-listed) 1993
Writer's Guild award for non-fiction books (short-listed) 1993
Rhone Poulenc prize for science books (short-listed) 1996
Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction (short-listed) 2000
Aventis prize for science books (short-listed) 2000
Motley Fool Book of the Month award 2000
Los Angeles Time Book Award (short-listed) 2001
Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Visiting Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York
Honorary Doctorate in Science, University of Buckingham 2003


Wednesday 26th March

Matt is being interviewed on BBC Radio 3's Nightwaves

Monday 31st March

Matt is appearing on Start the Week on BBC Radio 4 with Andrew Marr from 9am

Tuesday 1st April

Matt is delivering a lecture at The Royal Institution in London.

Thursday 3rd April

Matt is talking on Nature via Nurture and taking questions at Edinburgh's CafИ Scientifique, The Dunard Library, The Hub, Castlehill, Royal Mile EH1 2NE from 7.30pm

Monday 14th April

Matt is delivering a lecture on Genes, Experience and What Makes us Humans at Newcastle Science Festival 2003

Matt is chairing other events through the week. The Festival continues through to Monday 21st April.

Thursday 24th April

Matt is reading from Nature via Nurture and answering questions from the audience at Heffers Bookshop, 20 Trinity Street, Cambridge from 6pm - 7.30pm

Friday 25th April

Matt is appearing at DNA 50 meeting with James Watson at Cambridge University

Saturday 26th April

Matt & Nick Ross are appearing with James Watson at the Centre for Life in Newcastle


Wednesday 7th May

Matt will be interviewed on the Today Show on NBC

Monday 12th May

Matt is talking about Nature via Nurture and taking questions from the audience at 92nd Street, 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10128 from 8.15pm

Tuesday 13th May

Matt is delivering a lecture and signing books at Georgetown University in Washington DC from 4pm

Wednesday 14th May

Matt will be taking a seminar and signing books at the Department of Genetics and Genomics at Boston University School of Medicine, MA 02118, at 1pm

Matt will be talking on Nature via Nurture, taking questions from the audience and signing copies of his book at the Countway Library at Harvard Medical School, MA 02115, at 5pm

Thursday 15th May

Matt will be delivering an evening lecture at the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL 60611.

Friday 16th May

Matt will be reading, taking questions and signing copies of Nature via Nurture at the Boulder Bookstore on 1107 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302, from 7.30pm

Monday 19th May

Matt is delivering a lecture at the Center for Society, Individuals and Genetics at UCLA'a Student Union in Los Angeles, from 12pm

In the afternoon Matt is speaking at the Institute for Genetic Medicine at USC/KECK School of Medicine at 2250 Alcazar Street, Ca 90033 from 4pm.

Tuesday 20th May

Matt is speaking, taking questions from the audience and signing copies of his book at the University Bookstore, on University Way in Seattle, WA 98105, from 7pm

Wednesday 21st May

Matt is speaking, taking questions from the audience and signing copies of his book at Book Passage on Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925 from 7pm

Thursday 22nd May

Matt is being interviewed, taking questions and signing copies of his book at the California Academy of Sciences - Herbst Theater, Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, from 8pm


Tuesday 3rd June

Matt is giving an evening lecture at St Catherine's College, Oxford

Wednesday 4th June

Matt is delivering a lecture at Cheltenham Town Hall for the Cheltenham Science Festival from 8.45pm

What makes us who we are?

In February 2001 it was announced that the genome contains not 100,000 genes as originally expected but only 30,000. This startling revision led some scientists to conclude that there are simply not enough human genes to account for all the different ways people behave: we must be made by nurture, not nature. Yet again biology was to be stretched on the Procrustean bed of nature-nurture debate.

Acclaimed science writer Matt Ridley argues that the emerging truth is far more interesting than this myth. Nurture depends on genes, too, and genes need nurture. Genes not only predetermine the broad structure of the brain; they also absorb formative experiences, react to social cues and even run memory. They are consequences as well as causes of the will.

Published fifty years after the discovery of the double helix of DNA, Nature via Nurture chronicles a new revolution in our understanding of genes. Ridley recounts the hundred years' war between the partisans of nature and nurture to explain how this paradoxical creature, human being, can be simultaneously free-willed and motivated by instinct and culture. Nature via Nurture is an enthralling, up-to-the-minute account of how genes build brains to absorb experience.

'Nature via Nurture sets the modern terms for an ancient debate, and at the same time delivers a superb tutorial on contemporary genetics; the feedback loop that embraces genes and environment is generally not well understood. And yet this plasticity, this elegant mutuality, seems crucial if our new understanding of human nature is to inform public policy. These times need a book like this.'
Ian McEwan

'Lucidly explains the most recent discoveries on what makes us what we are, and how we should think about these discoveries as we ponder who we want to be...A treat, written with insight, wisdom, and style.'
Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate

'Bracingly intelligent, lucid, balanced - witty, too. Nature via Nurture is a scrupulous and charming look at our modern understanding of genes and experience.'
Oliver Sacks

'A real page-turner. What a superb writer he is, and he seems to get better and better.'
Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene  

By picking one newly discovered gene from each of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes, and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine.

Scientists are working at unravelling the human genome at such speed that in the early years of this century the entire DNA of a human being will be available on CD-ROM. This will set in motion a scientific revolution as profound as the discovery that the earth goes round the sun.

'The best popular science book I have read this year.'
Robin McKie, Observer

'There are surely few subjects as gripping as the recipe for human nature itself, and a better guide than Matt Ridley would be hard to imagine. Conclusion: Read this book.'

'What better way to tell the story of what it means to be human than through the story of these 23 pairs of tiny molecules? It's a brilliant idea and, as with all of Ridley's books, it is wonderfully executed.'
Evening Standard

'Genome is a tour de force: clear, witty, timely and informed by an intelligence that sees new knowledge as a blessing and not a curse. It is also a cracking read.'
Nigel Hawkes, The Times

Why are people nice to each other? What are the reasons for altruism? This text explains how the human mind has evolved a special instinct for social exchange, offering an argument about the paradox of human benevolence.


Sex is a subject as fascinating to scientists as it is to the rest of us. From the contentious problem of why the wasteful reproductive process exists at all, to questions of how individuals choose their mates and what traits they find attractive and why, research into the nature of sex has given rise to a vast range of findings. This book explores these findings, and their implications for the sexual behaviour of our own species, putting forward the metaphor of the red queen (from "Alice in Wonderland"), who has to run at full speed to stay where she is as a highly effective metaphor for a whole range of sexual behaviours.

The Red Queen was shortlisted for the 1994 Rhone-Poulenc Prize for Science Books.