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For all too brief a period in the 1980’s, I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting and working with L. Francis Edmunds. I was attending Emerson College (the school he founded for the study of the lifework of Rudolf Steiner) and destiny was kind enough to weave together the strands of our lives for the while.

In the inspiring presence of this extraordinary man, I came to understand that the wellspring of his own lifework was his never-ending commitment to discover – and then live – the answer to the question “What is Man?”

Not in the reductive bio-chemical sense of modern materialist science; but rather “What is the nature of Man’s spiritual constitution, and what is his role in the cosmic drama of creation?” It seemed to me that his every thought, word and deed was simultaneously a reiteration of, and a reply to, this fundamental query.

It was with deep reservations that he consented – at my request – to both video and audio record his late thoughts on this matter. It is with true respect and appreciation for his work that we share them now with you.

William Hearst II


Producer’s Note

On July 20, 1989 Francis Edmunds, William Hearst, II and I began what would become four audio recording sessions.

The sessions took place at William’s cottage in Coleman’s Hatch, East Sussex, UK, a short distance from Emerson College where Francis lived.

Francis was 87. William and I were in our early 40’s. We had both been engaged with the Emerson community for a number of years prior and worked with Francis on an earlier project. William had recently completed the Emerson Waldorf teacher training program.

The sessions weren’t pre-planned.  Each day we sat down and recorded for two hours, the length of an audio cassette tape. The resulting conversation ran over seven hours.

In a broad sense, William’s question to Francis was “What is man?” or in more contemporary vernacular: “What does it mean to be human?”

Francis was willing to share his thoughts and vision.

The continuity of the conversation is as recorded and has not been altered.

Over the years I have listened to the conversation more than a few times. To prepare the files for this website, I revisited again. Each time I listen I hear something new, something I wasn’t able to hear before.

It was a privilege to witness and record these sessions. I instantly sensed the value of the conversation, and now 30 years on, find it as relevant as ever.

John Swain