A series in which four writers contemplate why fertility has been such an important preoccupation in the worlds of art and ideas.
Part of Radio 3's Rites of Spring season.Author As Byatt examines our changing attitudes to fertility rites and symbols as seen in James George Frazer's The Golden Bough and railway engine design - via Queen Elizabeth I.
Developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert explains why the most important event in our lives is not birth, marriage or death but gastrulation - an early phase in the development of a human embryo.
Writer Maggie Gee examines popular culture - from P D James' The Children of Men to celebrity baby-brandishing - and what it reveals about attitudes to fertility.
Writer Laura Cumming contemplates the curious nature of fertility today and argues that, despite a wealth of historical allusions to pregnancy, visual art has never fully turned its gaze on the subject.