The superhero social entrepreneur, founder of the Big Issue and now member of the House of Lords, brings his new literacy campaign to Hay to launch the second edition of Literary Briefs: Chapters & Verse, championing 50 great books. Join him to talk about the power of libraries, stories and imagination, and to help build a new ‘Wider Reading Alliance’.
A conversation with the dynamic poet, broadcaster and teacher, whose latest books include Worker’s Tales, Reading and Rebellion, and his memoir So They Call You Pisher! Chaired by Peter Florence.
After her father’s death from dementia, writer and campaigner Nicci Gerrard set out to explore the illness that now touches millions of us, yet which we still struggle to speak about. What does dementia mean for those who live with it, and those who care for them? The first section of Lavinia Greenlaw’s new poetry collection The Built Moment is a sequence of poems called The Sea is an Edge and an Ending, about her father’s dementia and his disappearance into the present tense. It is not a narrative of illness so much as a meditation on the metaphysics of memory and loss. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
Covering everything from the pros and cons of labels to coming out and the joys of sexual fluidity, the award-winning comedian ponders all the stuff we get hung up about – and then a bit more. Mae’s mission is to ensure that in a world full of things to worry about, who we choose to kiss should not be one of them.
With a look that falls somewhere between Adam Ant and Prince and a sound that blends glam rock, psychedelic folk and indie pop, Charles Costa is one of the most compelling and exhilarating live performers in Britain. His 2012 album Loveblood launched the exuberant hit singles 'Mississippi Isabel', 'Bam Bam' and 'Lady Percy'. His Gamble for a Rose album appeared in 2016, and his new single Freak has just been released. Come. He’s fabulous.
When Kapka Kassabova was a child, the border zone between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece was rumoured to be an easier crossing point into the West than the Berlin Wall, so it swarmed with soldiers, spies and fugitives. Today she sets out on a journey to meet the people of this triple border – Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, and the latest wave of refugees fleeing conflict further afield. She discovers a region that has been shaped by the successive forces of history: by its own past migration crises, by communism, by two world wars, by the Ottoman Empire, and – older still – by the ancient legacy of myths and legends. Border has won multiple awards including the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2018.
Wolf illuminates a dramatic history – how a single English law in 1857 led to a maelstrom, with reverberations lasting to our day. That law was the Obscene Publications Act. Dissent and morality became legal concepts: if writers, editors, printers and booksellers did not uphold the law and the morals of society they faced serious criminal penalties. This was most dramatic regarding anything to do with love between men; homosexuality was linked to deviancy in the eyes of the law. Wolf portrays the dramatic ways this censorship played out among a bohemian group of sexual dissidents, including Walt Whitman in America and the English critic John Addington Symonds. Both a fascinating story and, crucially, an important way of understanding how the Act created homophobia and our ideas of ‘normalcy’ and ‘deviancy’, Outrages also shows the way it helped usher in the state’s purported need and right to police speech. Chaired by Matthew d’Ancona.
In this second annual lecture, the renowned translator pays tribute to his peerless, multilingual colleague Anthea Bell, who died in October 2018. He explores her work on the Asterix books, translating the original French by René Goscinny and his illustrator partner Albert Uderzo. “She was an elegant stylist, but more than that, a startlingly versatile one,” says Hahn “I first learned her name, as so many people did, because she wrote all those impossible Asterix jokes I loved so much; but to other people she was Sebald, or perhaps Kafka – or sometimes Freud. She was Cornelia Funke or Erich Kästner for children, Saša Stanišić and Stefan Zweig for adults, and so many others besides. Literature struggles to thrive without translation. Today I can’t help wondering how we readers and writers ever could have managed without Anthea Bell.” Chaired by Thea Lenarduzzi of the TLS.
Holding her first grandchild in her arms in 2003, Mary Robinson was struck by the uncertainty of the world he had been born into. Before his fiftieth birthday, he would share the planet with more than nine billion people – people battling for food, water and shelter in an increasingly volatile climate. As the UN’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Robinson’s mission led all over the world, from Malawi to Mongolia, and to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself. Robinson met with ordinary people whose resilience and ingenuity had already unlocked extraordinary change. Robinson is the former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and is now a member of The Elders. This year she was awarded the prestigious Kew International Medal for her work on climate justice.
The actor gives a reading of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s radical 1819 poem, written in response to the Peterloo Massacre. The reading is introduced by John Mullan.
Maxine Peake was originally commissioned to perform The Masque of Anarchy in a full performance by Manchester International Festival.
Jones explores the dependency of all life and systems on Earth – ecological, biological and physical – on our nearest star. He explores the connections between those systems, and the connections between the various disciplines that study them, from astronomy to cancer prevention, from microbiology to the study of sleep. He also charts his own work and interests over fifty years against developments in a wide range of fields, showing how what was once seen as a narrow specialism has become a subject of vast scientific, social and political significance. Jones is Professor of Genetics at University College London and President of the Galton Institute.
The polarised intensity of Brexit can seem like a very British civil war. What might healing and reconciliation look like? What can we learn from the past, and from present examples? Classicist Bettany Hughes reflects on her 2014 documentary series What’s The Point of Forgiveness? and takes a long view of ancient historical paths to peace. War correspondent Jon Lee Anderson discusses the political wrangling of peace terms and treaties he’s witnessed, the amnesties and the long recovery from totalitarian oppressions. Olusoga is an historian and author of Black and British: A Forgotten History. Paul Dolan is Professor in Behavioural Science at the LSE, where he works on measures of happiness and subjective wellbeing that can be used in policy and by individuals looking to be happier.
The writer discusses his magnificent 2014 Siberian novel The People’s Act of Love and his new work of reportage Dreams of Leaving and Remaining – an anatomy of Britain on the edge of Brexit. He previews his forthcoming novel To Calais in Ordinary Time, a 14th century epic narrative.
The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across the oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all. With wit and humour, stand-up comedian, Radio 4 broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes brings the story of the Trojan War to life from an all-female perspective, giving voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent.
The Industrial Revolution brings to mind famous male inventors and industrialists. Spanning the globe and drawing on thousands of years of history, Bateman weaves rigorous analysis with autobiographical insights to tell a bold, ambitious story about how the status and freedom of women – particularly freedom over their bodies – is central to our prosperity and economic wellbeing. Genuine female empowerment requires us not only to recognise the liberating potential of the market and the importance of smart government policies, but also to challenge the double standard of many modern feminists when they celebrate the brain while denigrating the body. Chaired by Jane Garvey of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
The novelist reboots Mary Shelley for the 21st century, as a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love – against their better judgement – with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI. What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet? Winterson shows us how much closer we are to that future than we realise. Funny and furious, a celebration of the bodies we live in and the bodies we desire, Frankissstein is a love story about life itself.
We celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of the incomparable Renaissance man – artist, scientist, inventor and lover. Brotton and Fletcher are Renaissance historians, Critchlow is a neuroscientist and Greer is a scholar and art historian. Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most inspiring figures of European history.
After more than a hundred years of the internal combustion engine, a new automotive technology has arrived. Cleaner, quieter and fun to drive, electric cars are here, and they are here to stay. But how do we get from 2.6% of new car sales in 2018 to the numbers we need to make a real difference to air pollution, and climate change? The Government has set ambitious targets for the uptake of electric vehicles. If we are to meet them, a change in the way people drive and think about the technology is required. Join Robert Llewellyn, TV presenter, author and electric vehicle expert, Jesse Norman, Former Future of Mobility Minister and local Hereford MP, Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Energy Electric Vehicles and Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers, as well as panellists from the motor and energy industries, to discuss this transition. Chaired by TV presenter and author Kate Humble.
Baloji is an artist in motion, a musician, poet, film director, a man of images and ideas. He’s in motion like the inhabitants of Avenue Kaniama in Lubumbashi. In motion like the synthetic Afrobeats he produces, the fruit of an unlikely alliance between rockrumba and futurist funk. In perpetual motion, like his limbs on stage as he fronts the Kaniama Show band, leading them in a sensual voodoo trance. 137 Avenue Kaniama is Baloji’s third album. Baloji means ‘man of science’ in Swahili, but during the colonial period that meaning shifted as a result of Christian evangelisation, to signify ‘man of the occult sciences’ and then ‘sorcerer’. He is full of wonders. His live shows are spectacular, joyful celebrations.
The challenges and opportunities facing our woods and forests are many and varied, from climate change to rewilding, from greenbelt development to urban woods. We have to focus on increasing tree plantings but cannot ignore the threats facing our ancient woodland. “Ten thousand oaks of 100 years old are not a substitute for one 500-year-old oak” – Oliver Rackham. Tree experts George Peterken and Archie Miles discuss the state of the woodland with Natalie Buttriss, Director of Woodland Trust Wales, and Woodland Trust Ambassador Sandi Toksvig.