We are revelling in an exhilarating time for young readers, fired by the richest imaginable field of novelists creating work for teenagers. The editor of the new Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature hosts this celebration of great contemporary YA writing with two superstars of the genre, who pick a library of ten essential reads for teenagers. All ticketholders will be entered into a draw to receive the ten books they choose as well as copies of Boyne’s The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas and the forthcoming Valentine novel Fire Colour One.
Ninety-three-year-old Eileen Younghusband served as an officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in WW2. She decided to volunteer at the age of 18, and her mathematical abilities led to her training as a Clerk Special Duties, a vital part of the Radar chain. She found herself working in the Filter Room, the lynchpin between the coastal Radar Chain and the successful defence of Britain. She tracked the V1s over Kent and London and gave the first ‘Big Ben’ warning of a V2, which landed on Chiswick on 8 September 1944. After losing two fiancés, she eventually married; only to be posted overseas six weeks later to Second Tactical Air Force in Belgium. There she became part of a team tracking and destroying V2 launching vehicles, responsible for the devastating raids on Antwerp – the Allies’ vital port for landing troops and supplies. She tells her story to The Telegraph’s Martin Chilton.
Many of our own gardens contain an abundance of edible and medicinal plants, grown mainly for their ornamental appearance. Most gardeners are completely unaware that what they have actually planted is a rather exotic kitchen garden. The Garden Forager explores some of the most popular garden plants that have edible, medicinal or even cosmetic potential. Nozedar’s recipes and remedies are exquisitely illustrated in watercolours by Lizzie Harper. She talks while Harper illustrates live.
In 2007 Sophie Lancaster was attacked in a park because of her appearance. Writer and poet Simon Armitage was so affected by her story that he and his producer Susan Roberts decided to make it into a drama documentary for Radio Four. The result was a profoundly moving piece of work combining specially written poems with an interview with Sylvia, Sophie’s mother. Black Roses was met with critical and public acclaim and subsequently turned into a play for Manchester Royal Exchange. Now in its third incarnation it has been turned into a film and will feature in the BBC’s forthcoming poetry season. Cassian Harrison, controller of BBC Four, talks to Simon and Susan about the challenges of making the film and its journey from radio to stage and now to screen.
Not for broadcast.
Malcolm describes the paths taken through the eastern Mediterranean and its hinterland by an eminent Venetian-Albanian family – among them an archbishop in the Balkans, the captain of the papal flagship at Lepanto, the power behind the throne in the Ottoman province of Moldavia, and a dragoman (interpreter) at the Porte – previously almost invisible to history. Through them he casts the world between Venice and Istanbul in a fresh light, illuminating subjects as diverse as espionage, slave-ransoming and the grain trade. It is a masterpiece of both scholarship and storytelling, creating a panoramic picture of interrelations between the Christian and Ottoman worlds.
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The journalist introduces his fictionalised thriller about the death of Alan Turing. He is the ghostwriter of Sweden’s fastest-ever-selling book I am Zlatan Imbrahimovic, though he’s likely to top that in August with the publication of his newest novel – the authorized sequel to Stieg Larsson’s Girl With A Dragon Tattoo / Millenium series. He talks to SJ Parris.
On the 50th anniversary of the last execution to take place in the UK, Malkani, a lecturer at Birmingham Law School, discusses why we are better off without the death penalty and why British efforts to promote the worldwide abolition of capital punishment should be supported. UN statistics suggest the five countries with the highest number of state executions annually are, in order, China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.
Jilla explores friendships unravelling and ravelling as old university friends set out on a Kalahari journey in The Art of Unpacking your Life. Graham, the concierge of Watson’s novel Hotel Alpha, has been behind the front desk since the day the hotel opened and has witnessed every stage of its history. Chaz, the founder’s blind adopted son, has almost never ventured outside its walls. Both of them view the Alpha as their sanctuary, the place that gives them everything they need. But both of them must now accept that the Alpha no longer offers them the life they most want…
Nine-year-old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution and the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country. All he knows is that he has been moved from a comfortable home in Berlin to a house in a desolate area where there is nothing to do and no one to play with. Until he meets Shmuel, a boy who lives a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adjoining wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pyjamas.
Bruno’s friendship with Shmuel will take him from innocence to revelation. And in exploring what he is unwittingly a part of, he will inevitably become subsumed by the terrible process.
The author revisits his 2008 novel, which is now read around the world. His latest book Stay Where You Are and Then Leave is the moving story of a boy’s search for his missing father during the First World War.
Dunlop weaves together the lives of fifteen women selected to work in Britain’s most secret organisation – Bletchley Park. It is their story, told in their voices; Tessa met and talked to 15 veterans, often visiting them several times. Firm friendships were made as their epic journey unfolded on paper.
The scale of female involvement in Britain during the Second World War was unmatched in any other country. From 8 million working women just over 7,000 were hand-picked to work at Bletchley Park and its outstations and soon they outnumbered the men three to one. Dunlop talks to publisher and QI elfmaster John Mitchinson.
Art has always been part of history. But we often think of it as outside history. When we look at a painting by Raphael, Rembrandt or Rubens it speaks to us directly, but it’s also an historical document, part of a living world. The Oxford art historian takes us on an extraordinary trip through art, from devotional works to the revolutionary techniques of the Renaissance, from the courtly Masters of the C17th through to the daring avant-garde of the C20th and beyond.
How do we measure how we’re doing, economically and demographically? What are the ‘facts’ about migration and the tax base, National Debt, growth, borrowing and GDP and how should they be interpreted? The Chief Economist and the Director of Population Statistics at the Office of National Statistics give us the un-spun skinny on what the numbers mean and where the truth lies… Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
In this first event celebrating the centenary of the Welsh poet Alun Lewis, Owen Sheers will read the poetry and Juliet Aykroyd will reveal how he and her mother, Freda, fell in love in India during World War II. Lewis’s letters to Freda, published in A Cypress Walk, prove him to be one of the great letter-writers.
On St Crispin’s Day 1415, Henry V and his exhausted army of 9,000 long-bowmen and infantry defeated the 20,000 massed cavalry and nobility of France. It was a turning point in the Hundred Years War, and in the advance of weaponry.
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We are thrilled to launch the publication of the conclusion to the Ibis Trilogy with a rare interview with the novelist. It is 1839 and tension has been rapidly mounting between China and British India following the crackdown on opium smuggling by Beijing. With no resolution in sight, the colonial government declares war. One of the vessels requisitioned for the attack, the Hind, travels eastwards from Bengal to China, sailing into the midst of the First Opium War. The turbulent voyage brings together a diverse group of travellers, each with their own agenda to pursue. Flood of Fire follows a varied cast of characters from India to China, through the outbreak of the First Opium War and China’s devastating defeat, to Britain’s seizure of Hong Kong.
Photo: Jerry Bauer