« Desert Island Discs

Sigrid Rausing

2016-01-24 | 🔗
Kirsty Young's castaway is the philanthropist and publisher Sigrid Rausing. Founder of one of the UK's largest philanthropic foundations, her trust has given away around £230m to human rights causes since it began. Brought up in Sweden, she is currently the publisher of Granta Books and the editor of Granta Magazine and her work spotting and developing new writers stems from her lifelong love of literature. As the granddaughter of Ruben Rausing, who founded food packaging company Tetra Pak, she is a member of one of Britain's richest families. Her interest in human rights was sparked as a child by a love of animals and hearing her parents talk about the Holocaust. Producer: Paula McGinley.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello on Kirsty young. Thank you for downloading Broadcast of desert island discs from BBC radio for four right, Reasons, the music choices are shorter than in the radio broadcasts for more info nation about the programme. Please visit bbc dotcom, dont, uk, slash radio, for My customary this week is the philanthropists publisher secret, rising thunder of the uk is largest philanthropic foundations, her trust has given away around two hundred and thirty million tonnes since it began. Along with the weighty business of deciding precisely who gets the benefit of her fortune. She, who owns the publishing house and literary magazine grandpa by all
hence she's made a life that skilfully circumnavigate the trap of being one of the idle rich. Along with her, else, she appears to have inherited her families predisposition for the practical her grandfather was concerned, and was making milk portable and pasteurized the family. Billions come from the invention, manufacture of tetra pack cartons. My customary has applied herself to making life better for people suffering violence, war and inhumanity, she says we live in a profoundly unfair society. Wealth is increasing, for the wealthy, and days is increasing for those in debt. Once you Oh, that it seems to me you can't not try to do something for the common good with that money, so welcome sacred rising. It is impossible to introduce you this morning without referring immediately to to your wealth in the wealth of your family, given that that has been the story of your life, I'm wondering
How dare you are at sniffing ice when people are more interested in what you have than who you are? I expect very good, it's a very difficult question to answer, because in a certain sense it something that I take absolutely for granted esa, it's an existential decision. I take it for granted that to some degree the money adds a bit of glamour. Even if people don't want anything in most people don't want anything. You know it's still part of who I am but he's a great opportunity to avoid can lead to great opportunities is also great responsibility, and I mean that not just in ethical sets It's a great responsibility to just to deal with it. The get a practical level have there been times in your life when you had wished that the fortune wasn't there the family fortune wasn't there? No, I don't think so, because
There is never been a time when I was so pained by it that I wished it wasn't there. I've never felt particularly guilty. I didn't. I know that many people do my parents and my grandfather in particular. I think tat. Very healthy stuff added attitude to money. My father's Let me uninterested money, but you know wasn't pained by it either. You know. That's not forget that the greatest problems that people have he's really when they have no money and no connections in an that's so much worse than the kind of problem of having money.
Running a business, it is a very different concept from running foundation. What is it you're? Looking for when you sit down and read a manuscript, it has to be a story that grab scene. I ve got a string for sweetie publishing in a fascinating stories, extremely well written. I think the auto being an editor is that you create order, which I always do myself, the flap danny. It's about how the whole thing The other is a wholly known and that's a very interesting thing. Time then cigarettes in few first piece of music tat tell us about what we're gonna hear. Why view chosen this was my first faggot is katy lying singing leonard Cohen Hallelujah. And I love it because I love her voice, so much strengthen truth and passion in it
Was it you katy lange and Hallelujah, so secret, rising you swedish, by birth. Your mother merit was an academic. Your father hands was managing director of the family business you with a middle child of three and what was lifelike growing up pygmy little picture. We lived in upon house in by the cathedral in the town of learned in southern sweden. I learned this bit ly came which in sweden it sir smaller.
The two university towns. You were at schools, uneducated with other kids. You are quite right: yeah yeah, we'll states, corsica and petra pack, was at that time about the only industrial development in it and so it had been started by your grandfather, and it has been said suddenly cause. Well, my grandfather started with another entrepreneur. Call Eric oakland, that time? Nobody really believed in the technology of tat beggars packages will leaking terribly, nobody wanted them, and so my father, who is only I think, twenty five at the time, was put in charge of this small company and he really building. to what he later became. I've read an interview you describe. Your father was a libertarian to tell me about the times that he decided to reposition the tree.
This new summer home, so maybe maybe maybe repositioning is a generous termed it tell me what happened. Well, there was a wonderful slew of juniper and heather near our house. We can house and at a certain point, the village council decided applauded over with conifers, and my father was soon since by this. The loss of this beautiful patch of heather and juniper that that he took us one night to protest to tear up some of the court and it was very typical, my father, you know it is the opposite of what most parents are trying to teach their children which, as you know, you abide by the rule of law and if it says, walk on the site of the pavement. That's what you do with it. Was their citizens faintly canter, cultural, about your father. Did once we shake things up and then tat. He was very suspicious of state power. You know, maybe we could
these either because he loved you and war in a nazi germany was was. It has failed present for my grandfather and my father s, death that suspicion of the state and not the power of the state can do is something that I grew up with. I would you describe your father's character if you were to describe it to a stranger. He is very eccentric, he's very inventive. He is a kind of true atticus, and what about your mother? I would you describe her. She, lectures. She was she taught that university she's very funny, witty vivacious. Let's have some music seek redress and tell me about your second one speaking of whisky. What are you gonna get answer? My second record is tom layer. Seeing the vatican lag, my parents loved on their site. I listen to this a lot when I was a child. First,
get down on your knees, with your rosa, raised, with great respect to genuflection. Whatever steps you want, if you have clear them with the monti of everybody say, isn't area is doing. Tumblr invested can read when we Think of the racing name, we think well, I think about it with names like you, Is he in an alien and guinness and rothschild? And when I think of jesse, I think of the kidnap of coal gas yet happened. one thousand nine hundred and seventy three he was a youngster. He would just have been three or four years older than you at the time a teenager kidnapped for Was a ransom demanded around about seventeen billion dollars on his head a fortune
I will where will you live the story of the time, given that you were in this family that the you know they were industrialist? They were building their fortune. We had a lot of a lot of discussions about security, fu, kidnap threats, ourselves, one was the threat that came to my grandfather that I thinking about us children. There was a much more serious one from the group of teens who are affiliated with the popular front for the liberation of palestine. That was a kidnap clan about my cousin in the early 80s and the police found the plan in the flat. They found the biggest weapons stash ever found. I think in a private house in europe, your parents have this young growing family. What steps do they take to make your life different and safer? Do they do anything tangible? I mean we had endless alone. some into this day, I can't bear alarms, but at the same
time I have to say in sweden, and we learned in particular. You know it was of a safe environment, you signed up to amnesty international when you were just fifteen. That seems quite young untypical younger. What what was the motivation for that when I started out has been paid? protective of animals and including our animals, and I felt very vase only about that and then I became interested in human rights. I'd always grown up with stories about the holocaust. My grandfather and his brother had been very involved in the welcome committee. Footage danish jews coming Sweden as though it just meant that an interest in human rights was was gonna pay What we are talking about is a family, you know, and so there you, you were as this thoughtful, so the engaged young woman with with you, no parents,
We were close to and yet is seventeen. You decide you leaving school in Sweden that come about well I'd. I have a history of depression and I had my first episode of I was at that time. And what happened actually was that I I stopped good school and as a result of that, I didn't hear you off and I came to england and that's kind of healed me and then I offer my you. If I went schooling and stayed on my parents moved over two years later. It can take people of a long time to work out the duchy they suffer from clinical depend. Certainly somebody's youngest seventeen did you understand it as depression at the time or did you just think? I need a change. I don't like it here. I didn't understand what was happening to me. I was so disassociated and
You're not only feeling depressed, but also I was very paradise you see you came to england at it and cured thus episode. What was it about being in a different place and being in this place, managed to lift your spirits. Oh I in the country, some wonderful friends of my parents, and I think just being feeling they safe for a long long long walks in the countryside doing some perfectly useless cooking gardening. We had no idea how to do either, but it was a kind of asylum. You know it was a period of, peace, let's have some one music, sigurd rice and we're going to listen to your third disk them about this. So my third record is leonard
cohen bird on a wire which I think perfectly to me some support. It is to be depressed. Seventy two in as you try to make it life, you try to make relationships, and it just says something about hard at this late hour. I like it. Leonard Cohen, and bad on a wire, so secret rising. You read history at york, university and genuine onto subsequently to study. Anthropology, tell me about setting up you philanthropic trust than you Did that in the mid nineties and
lastingly. I think you initially named it after your grandparents. It wasn't called the secret trust me right! Wasn't I didn't name it after my grandparents? Why did I did it because I want you to remember them. I wanted on them as it enabled something about human rights, which is about standing up and really being counted and so I decided to use my own name for my trust. Do you fuelled by having the in your name and you being either personally account and noble, but people who may challenge the funding that you given, who may not agree with. I can see political- I mean with a small, be the political decisions of funding that you make. Do you feel personally, that you know are a target for their ire or worse, for their annoyance I feel a bit of that I mean I remember being in bed. I was a few years ago.
meeting, understand cough? Who was the presidential candidate who had been arrested by president lukashenko And he was out of arrest them, and but he was still on a curfew, and I met him in the outskirts of of men's I'm in a small scruffy flooded, and begun back to the hotel and feeding a sense of I for the first time in my life. since a real political nervousness, so my music, signalled rice and etc. It's your fourth term about this, my fullest back it s chopin. It hid in see me play by my pariah? When I first met Eric Eric Abraham, my husband, we used to sit in his car We stood leaning since it is not just members sitting in the car and the rain drumming on the roof. Listening to this very lucky,
that was mary pariah playing shook hands to number one in c major tell me secret There is a view this philanthropic, giving you know when, when charities and trusts and foundations step in to take care of the funding of a project and unfair They often these are seen as essential services that some That then absolves the states- maybe we always fair weather- organizations that we support demille advocacy. Some do some service provision, but we quite nervous about in a funding organizations that only do service provision so of funding is about putting pressure on governments a particularly in repressive or transitional societies, putting pressure on those governments to try and create conditions.
For good governance in a philanthropic. Giving in the arts, I would say, has a very obvious quid pro quo. You know and auditorium in one's name or in it. wing of a gallery, that's associated with the family in perpetuity. Truly that is not so when you're handing money too to women's refuges sort. You know to refugee projects. Is it whenever I get kind of fatigue on this, get in. I see the monthly docket with fifteen or twenty grand publications and survey easy to get tired of it. If you travel and see what reply doing is extraordinarily inspiring, and I think it's important it's important to me. about this next piece. It's your fists of the morning. Would we gonna give a city song is called sister, were sad eggers before us and is by Alison cross a moment,
than is so beautiful, so haunting arrange things Yes, that was Alison cross and robert plants and sister rosetta goes before us. Let me ask you: secured rising advice, em. You spoken simply and eloquently about this episode of depression. That yourself But when you were seventeen, as I understand it, you had an their absolute of depression and in your twenties is what what was it that if I, if I can say, trigger that what with the circumstances of theirs. my brother had just come out of one of his men,
we re he can't stay with I was living in them then, and he immediately relapsed again. And the thing was that I I had no idea, I did not realise as soon he became increasingly difficult to live with, and I eventually, after a couple of months of this, I asked him to leave, He didn't leave couldn't leave, but he he started just staying in his own bat and then, after the summer some of this he suddenly was gone. And I had no idea where he was. and through that autumn I was quite.
I was mildly depressed. I would say, and then in February my mother, who never goes down to the village, I miss you just never goes to the bank and this one time she rented and to check about something, and my brother was their he'd come back from amsterdam ass, it turned out. He'd put himself on methadone himself to try and get a firing, and she took him and he went to another. We have a better. We have. and when that happens, I I went into much deeper depression and I think it's quite common. You know once you know that, somebody safe. You can kind of let go bed so that spring I was in a very deep depression in very dark place to any family that deal with an addict their heart, the destructive,
and the endless lee repeating behaviour that you describe will be so familiar. It's quite uncommon to your somebody talk about the effect it had upon them. What what help was available to you? I mean you get into this kind of Oh dependent sing in ireland and I had traversed I have trouble with a time. But you know what it means is that your life, if your fate becomes just tangled somebody else's life and- and you know, I think that they true for me. My brother, you knew I was. was very entangled in his addiction, ended up going myself the family member. To that same, we have by caught my arms, and then they found me pad and just being without the people was way healing for a long time. Then the sick.
duration. You know had been a private agony for you, yeah for your family, then very dramatically became front page news and twenty. Twelve, your brother was arrested for drug possession and Subsequently there was a raid on his whom in belgrade, And it was there that police discovered the body of his wife in a bedroom that had been hidden for two months. This body was decomposing. His his wife, I should say, had also had a history of drug addiction and recover yes well, so that part of this whole domestic circumstance. I did it back when that time that NATO's completely surreal we were in Sweden every time we find that the day after we came to Sweden, you know it was a huge shock. What do you think our relationship is
with very, very privileged people who find themselves in circumstances such as your brother did. You know, I think, maybe the perception as well. If you. All that money just through money at the problem and surely the best people in the world can solve it. Yet I think there's a lot of that ain't. We had the best people in the world we had. We went through in only diction experts in a they make an addiction experts specializing in wealthy families, and I know that whole landscape so well, and what I can say about it is that it doesn't help very much Take a break for some music than secret. Rising. Tell me about this. This song is the last good bye, bye, the kills. I've always associated the song with iva and what happened. I should say, of course, the evil was your brother's, like wife,
I say said to me: I can lead to some one that was the hills and the last goodbye, so secret rising. You married your first husband and ninety ninety five and yours, Daniel was born two years later. It was too
has been three when you got married for the second time. Your husband knows the film producer Eric Abraham, the oscar winning film producer. Indeed, is it true that he seduced you with literature me here see the hit he did. He would bring me books and animals amusing, actually, bishop, pan and good concepts, and it was two thousand and five. just a couple of years after you made that you bought granted books and grant a magazine renowned, literary title year within the british establishment, you must have felt quite correct, Taking my mom says it is notable that uncharacteristically courageous it's actually in the end. That is all we can do this. This is an amazing thing to do and we did is it until I get the impression from speaking to you today that it might be the most professionally satisfying sing you you ve done. Yes, I think it really is because its You know when you funding human rights, you you really daily
the whole world and it it's it's a big landscape and we eat dinner with publishing. You know you you thinking about how this books. You know you think eu editing a book or a piece of the magazine you in that. Well this very much smaller although I think that greece, a kind of madness in the big while the philanthropy here, because there is a kind of madness about money. You know the sense of you have on his money? So you can do anything. You can fix anything randy, She can divide, and it seems to me that business publishing for me recognises that await us, healthy and he clean and normal and good. Let's have some one
Six redressing tell me about this is your seven of the morning, but this is a lucky still singing co. Porter I get a kick out of you air. Can I sang at our wedding. we sang. Are you guessing, I'm really bad, sing that Eric is very busy right, and so, when I hit my voice to his voters, I can kinder stay in harmony. and if reminds me of a wedding and half funny it wasn't in a loose and everybody was just laughing it. It was just the greatest thing again. firm sham doesn't matter me: why should it be
bad egg is key fitzgerald and I get a kick out of you. Was that a little better than the one you sang it? You don't weddings. I say it was a long does. being an editor make. You are harsh critic of your own way? Yes, in a good way, I hope are you writing just now? Yes, I am writing now I'm working on a memoir about what it. what it means to be. A family member of an edict. What happened to you You when you end up holding so much of the discipline in one of our advice, was a guy who himself was civic having alcoholic, and he said to me one time after meeting. Oh I've just shut at the joke,
the family member, handshake with your brother, and I said what staffed any study wagging his finger at me and he was looking straight out. man, you know wagging his finger and I was upset by that. I just started crying and the truth is because that is you become, you know you become that voice of morality. There is something important to be said about the pain of being met, voice. One of the other biggest rules in your life has been being ass, a mother and a stepmother who ask to step children who are at all now erics children, and then I'm an ant of my brothers. Thus for children, and then I have my own son Daniel. What have you learned from being a mother. Do you think had learned to. be more authoritative. I don't think that came later
truly to me in my mother was a wonderful mother, but she was also completely on domestic year. It was kind of something else you know, as I have had to learn it, and I think whenever you learn something I thought you know you can with the authenticity of it. Have you imagined yourself alone on this island cast away, and if you have, how do you think you'll do with it? What would your strategy be where I have a huge capacity for being alone. You I have no problem with that at all. You know, I'd like being on my own. Tell me about your final piece of music. Then what are we gonna hear this eighth disk today one by camilo son sands
it by your mom is, might have aspirations- peace, if you like, because it soon filled with gentleness and says of harmony in order. I find a phrase sitting in front of a beautiful
yo, yo, ma playing saint Saens, the swan with philip Anselmo on piano and sue. It's time sacrificing for me to to give you your books. If you get the complete works of shakespeare and the bible and you're allowed to take one other book along as a publisher and a writer on the interested to know what that big spain to be. I am a great believer. We reading and we re jane austen on kind of rotation and my favorite jane austen. His mouth filled park, description of fannys, family imports, myth and the poverty. The relative poverty that they lived in, I think, is very vague thing. You're allowed a luxury to take. What is your luck she going to be? I was hoping that you might
Give me a whole library, I think, within the spirits in luxury. Yes, I can allow you a library and whatever is in it, is in its yeah, whereas if you were to specify books, then I think we're source of doubling up on the books. I'm gonna say you can have a life I can have the library, then I am saying that, and I'm immediately redressing the planes very, you have done it, my right, the likely at sea wages, labour, ok, what about attract safe, which one would it be? I would take issue pan just because there is more to it. This dense and complicated nineteen one needs that complexity. It's you secret rising. Thank you very much for letting us here. Your desert island discs. I thank you very much. I enjoyed it.
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Transcript generated on 2022-06-19.