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The Commonwealth Writers Conversation

The Untold Story

Storymoja Nairobi 2013, 

The first in a global series of conversations invites writers, artists and thinkers to discuss the subjects and themes that are sometimes met with silence in societies around the world.  This is the place to talk about how to communicate the difficult and the unsayable, whether through words or other forms of expression. Panelists include Chief Nyamweya and Keguro Macharia.Tell us on email or twitter what you'd like to discuss with the panel. 

 

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Kristina Stephenson

Sir Charlie Stinkysocks

Hay Festival 2014, 
Sir Charlie is off on his most fearsome quest yet, along a treacherous track, through a spooky-wooky wood and into a deep, dark cave to…well, come along to find out. Storytelling at its best with songs, music and sound effects.
5+ years
Kristina Stephenson

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Julian Clary and David Roberts

The Bolds on Holiday

Hay Festival 2017, 

The hairiest family in Teddington are back for a further adventure and this time they decide to take a well-earned holiday by the seaside with all their relatives in tow. But can they stay hidden on a camping holiday? Join the authors as they introduce their exceptional family’s latest escapade in storytelling and live drawing.

9+
Julian Clary and David Roberts

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Sarah Woods, Bill McGuire and Andrew Simms

There was a Knock at the Door – can modern folk tales help to understand these troubling times?

Hay Festival 2017, 

‘Strange’ is the new ‘normal’ for global events. Throughout history, folk tales emerged to help us come to terms with extreme events. With the world as it is today, might stories make better sense of things than news reports? Artist and playwright Sarah Woods is joined by Andrew Simms, editor of a new collection of tales There was a Knock at the Door, and Bill McGuire, Professor of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at UCL and author of Waking the Giant.

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Megan Rix and Damian Kelleher

True Stories of Animals in War

Hay Festival 2014, 

There are hundreds of stories about the bravery and loyalty of dogs in wartime. Rix and Kelleher discuss the inspiration for their books, A Soldier’s Friend and A Dog in No Man’s Land. Chaired by Daniel Hahn.
7+ years

Megan Rix and Damian Kelleher

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Karla Wursterová, Péter Balázs and Michal Cerny

What Role Does Central European Co-operation Play In Shaping European Foreign Policy?

Budapest 2013, 

Karla Wursterová, Executive Director of the International Visegrad Fund in Bratislava, Slovakia, discusses with Péter Balázs, Director of the CEU Center for EU Enlargement Studies and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary and Michal Cerny, Director of the Czech Centre in Budapest, how co-operation among Central European states (the Visegrad Group and the Central European Initiative) influences the formation of European foreign policy.

Co-organized with CEU in collaboration with Napvilag Kiado
Event in English

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Francesca Simon

The Monstrous Child

Hay Festival 2016, 

The best-selling author’s teenage heroine, Hel, knows every feeling of adolescence. But as goddess of the Underworld, when she behaves badly she doesn’t just get sent to her room; she gets sent to rule over the dead for all eternity! Hel has powers that most teens can only dream of – but they come at a price.

                         

10+
Francesca Simon

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Gulwali Passarlay talks to Oliver Bullough

The Lightless Sky: An Afghan Refugee Boy’s Journey of Escape to a new Life in Britain

Hay Festival 2016, 

Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan at the age of 12, after his father was killed in a gun battle with the US army. Smuggled into Iran, Gulwali embarked on a 12-month odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger, cruelty and violence. He endured a terrifying journey on a tiny boat in the Mediterranean, braved the brutality of those who should care for children and spent a desolate month in the camp at Calais. Somehow he survived and made it to Britain, no longer an innocent child but still a young boy alone. Here in Britain he was fostered, went to a good school, worked hard and won a place at a top university. Gulwali was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in 2012. Many refugees die along the way. Some are sent back to face imprisonment and possible death. Some survive and make it here, to a country that offers them the chance of a life of freedom and opportunity.

Gulwali Passarlay talks to Oliver Bullough

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Rick Stroud

Kidnap in Crete

Hay Festival 2015, 

On a moonlit night in April 1944 a small band of fearless partisans, led by the British SOE agent Patrick Leigh Fermor, kidnapped a high-ranking Nazi general on the German-occupied island of Crete. Stroud is the author of The Phantom Army of Alamein: The Men Who Hoodwinked Rommel and The Book of the Moon. Chaired by Con Coughlin.

Rick Stroud

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International Fiction

Hay Festival 2008, 
Australian novelist and Commonwealth Prize-winner Michelle de Kretser introduces The Lost Dog; Linda Grant’s The Clothes on Their Backs is an elegant tale of clothing, identity and assimilation. Chaired by Peter Guttridge.

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Adam Rutherford

Creation, Synthetic Biology and Hip-Hop

Hay Festival 2016, 

The geneticist, author of Creation: The Origin of Life/The Future of Life explains how the evolution of music is notably similar to biological evolution: sampling closely mimics synthetic biology, as wholesale pieces of other organisms are swapped to add functions and behaviours for our purposes. And now, as with the copyright issues that strangled creativity in hip-hop, patents in genetics act as crippling hindrances to scientific progress.

Adam Rutherford

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Sinclair McKay talks to Chris Hunter

Dunkirk: From Disaster to Deliverance – Testimonies of the Last Survivors

Winter Weekend 2014, 
On 4 June 1940, over 338,000 British, French and Belgian troops were evacuated from the beaches and harbour at Dunkirk. Drawing on new interviews with Dunkirk veterans, letters and recollections from Wrens, civilian sailors and new recruits, the bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bletchley Park details the wider story around this ‘absurd English epic’.
Sinclair McKay talks to Chris Hunter

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José María Beneyto, Giles Tremlett and Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente

Can European Cultural Identity Survive?

Segovia 2014, 

The role culture plays in European integration still has to be addressed by European institutions. Lawyer and Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, José María Beneyto, Director of ABC Cultural, Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente, and Madrid correspondent for the Economist and contributing editor for the Guardian, Giles Tremlett discuss this issue which is crucial for Europe’s future.

Event in Spanish

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Min Jin Lee and Julianne Pachico talk to Lena de Casparis

Fictions: Scale

Hay Festival 2017, 

Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko is an epic tale of identity and survival and love, set across four generations of a Korean family in Japan. Julianne Pachico’s stories collected as The Lucky Ones explore the riveting lives and stories of a huge range of people caught up in the violence of Colombia’s guerrilla insurgencies. They talk to Lena de Casparis of Elle magazine.

Min Jin Lee and Julianne Pachico talk to Lena de Casparis

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Lily Ashley, Grace Pilkington, James Massiah

Little Grape Jelly–in Performance

Hay Festival 2017, 

The trio of poets bill themselves asconversations between a recovering love addict, a born again nihilist and an emotionally naked feminist’.They’re clever and inventive and they give good show.

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Bernice Rubens and Ruth Rendell talk to Michele Roberts

A Good Read

Hay Festival 1995, 
Creative Reading along the lines of the popular Radio 4 programme in which writers recommend favourite books. booker winner Rubens chooses Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark, recent filmed by Stephen Spielberg. Rendell Recommends Samuels Butler's novel The Way of All Flesh.

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James Hawes, Arabella Weir, Terence Blacker

Hay Festival 2000, 
Cult creator of A White Merc With Fins and  Rancid Aluminium, Hawes establishes himself as the poet of the late-lad-crisis in his blackly funny new novel Dead Long Enough. Weir follows the success of Does  My Bum Look Big In This with the feel-good girlfriends story Onwards and Upwards. They talk to Terence Backer, whose Kill Your Darlings is published in July.

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Susan Molyneux Hodgson, Julie Hill and Dale Sanders

The Royal Society Platform: We Need To Talk About Gene Tech

Hay Festival 2017, 

Why does public debate and policy treat the application of genetic technology differently when we are discussing medicine and food? Why is our concept of what is ‘natural’ so controversial and the idea of GM food so alarming? Scientists and sociologists come together with Daniel Davis to discuss what’s being ventured and how it is perceived.

Susan Molyneux Hodgson, Julie Hill and Dale Sanders

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Simon Schama

Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492-1900

Hay Festival 2018, 

In our own time of anxious arrivals and enforced departures, the Jews’ search for a home is more startlingly resonant than ever. Belonging is a magnificent cultural history abundantly alive with energy, character and colour. From the Jews’ expulsion from Spain in 1492 it navigates miracles and massacres, wandering, discrimination, harmony and tolerance; to the brink of the twentieth century and, it seems, a point of profound hope. Schama tells the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a boxer in Georgian England; a general in Ming China; an opera composer in 19th- century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California.

Simon Schama

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Michael Marmot talks to Rajan Datar

The Health Gap

Hay Festival 2016, 

There are dramatic differences in health between countries and within countries. But this is not a simple matter of rich and poor. A poor man in Glasgow is rich compared to the average Indian, but the Glaswegian’s life expectancy is 8 years shorter. In all countries, people at relative social disadvantage suffer health disadvantage, and dramatically so. Within countries, the higher the social status of individuals, the better is their health. But globally these health inequalities defy usual explanations. Creating the conditions for people to lead flourishing lives, and thus empowering individuals and communities, is key to development. Datar reports for BBC World News.

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Clare Nasir

Two Clouds and a Cough

Hay Festival 2016, 

Become a cloud expert with the meteorologist, author and presenter. She will spark the imagination of young minds as she talks weather and clouds, and reads from her latest children’s book.

3+

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Alison Weir

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obssession

Hay Festival 2017, 

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.

Alison Weir

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Virginia Nicholson

Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: The Story of Women in the 1950s

Hay Festival 2015, 

Nicholson tells the story of women in the 1950s: a time before the Pill, when divorce spelled scandal and two-piece swimsuits caused mass alarm. She is the author of Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900–1939, Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War and Millions Like Us: Women’s Lives During the Second World War. Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith.

45 mins
Virginia Nicholson

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Janice Hadlow

The Strangest Family: The Private Lives of George III, Queen Charlotte and the Hanoverians

Hay Festival 2015, 

George III wanted to be a new kind of king, one whose power was rooted in the affection and approval of his people. And he was determined to revolutionise his private life. He was sure that as a faithful husband and a loving father, he would be not just a happier man but a better ruler as well. As the children grew older, and their wishes and desires developed away from those of their father, it became harder to maintain the illusion of domestic harmony. The king’s episodes of madness undermined the bedrock of their marriage; his disapproving distance from the bored and purposeless princes, especially the dissolute Prince of Wales, alienated them; and his determination to keep the princesses at home, protected from the potential horrors of the European marriage market, left them lonely, bitter and resentful.

Janice Hadlow

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Nick Butterworth

Q Pootle 5

Hay Festival 2015, 
Nick Butterworth is a bestselling and award-winning picture book creator. He is author of Q Pootle 5, now a popular CBeebies animated series. In this family event, Nick talks about how he made the Q Pootle 5 books. You’ll see a glimpse of the CBeebies series, plus live drawing from Nick.
5+ years
Nick Butterworth