James lost his mother when he was seven. Shipped from home to home and subject to the whims of various care-givers after his father turned to alcohol and violence, he committed his first crime of breaking and entering when he was ten. His teenage and early adult years were spent drifting, and his petty crime turned increasingly violent, culminating in the terrible events for which he was jailed for life in 1984. Entering prison at 27, James struggled to come to terms with the enormity of his crimes and a future without purpose or hope. Then he met Joan, a prison psychologist, who helped him to confront the painful truth of his past, and to understand how it had shaped him from such a young age. Encouraged to read and to educate himself, over the next 20 years Erwin James would go on to receive a BA in History and become a regular columnist for the Guardian.
The changing ‘treescape’ of the UK holds clues to social, political and natural events throughout history. From agriculture to boat building, Dutch elm disease and the great storm of 1987, the state of trees and woods in our landscape tell a story of our past and hold lessons for our future. Author Fiona Stafford and woodland ecologist George Peterken, both featured in Arboreal, a Common Ground collection of woodland writing, talk to Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University.
The second novel in the popular historian’s Six Tudor Queens series mines the story of Anne Boleyn, the young woman who changed the course of history. Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love. But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.
Chaired by Phil Rickman.
General Sir Richard Shirreff, one of Britain’s highest-ranking soldiers and until recently Deputy Head of NATO, was threatened with court martial when he dared to criticise David Cameron’s defence policy. What he says here goes much further. He brings an urgent warning: We are sleepwalking our way into war with Russia and we need to act now, with resolution, to avoid it.
A pandemic called ‘The Sweats’ is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. Welsh introduces A Lovely Way To Burn, the first outbreak in her Plague Times trilogy. Hannah reveals The Telling Error, the latest in her Culver Valley Crime series of novels.
A lights-down-and-listen session and Q&A with writer Glyn Maxwell and BBC Radio Drama producer Nadia Molinari. Love is put through the toughest Q&A in Glyn Maxwell’s comedy of festival manners. Come and listen to this 45-minute original drama recorded on location at this year’s Hay Festival, followed by a discussion about how it was created.
This session is not for broadcast, but the original recording of Time for One More Question will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 29 May at 2.15pm.
This fascinating survey ranges from the communal buildings of the early nineteenth-century political radicals, Owenites and Chartists, through Arts and Crafts influenced socialist structures of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods to the grand union ‘castles’ of the mid-twentieth century.
Join Muthoni Garland (Matatu from Watamu) and Clifford Oluoch (Boom Boom Bus) talk about the inspiration behind their stories, and share secrets about the writing process.
6–9 years with parents
Bob Cole from Herefordshire was the long-distance Olympian who never got the chance to prove it. Eccentric and solitary, he competed on the professional circuit and was proclaimed world champion, but forever banned from the Olympics. Herington, author of a new biography, discusses the amazing story of a forgotten hero from the Chariots of Fire era.
The great formal garden at The Laskett was made by Strong and his late wife, the designer Julia Trevelyan Oman. Since her death, he has remade the garden completely, a process recorded over many years by the photographer Clive Boursnell.