In 1519 an arrogant and unscrupulous man sailed from the Caribbean with orders to find a missing Spanish expedition. He immediately set about carving himself an empire in modern Mexico, while the governor of Cuba sent a force out to kill him. Hernán Cortés explored the coast to Veracruz then struck inland, seduced by tales of a great empire rich in gold. He found the largest and best-run city on earth and reduced it to rubble.
Award-winning travel writer and historian John Harrison followed in his footsteps for four months, finding the jungle ruins and sophisticated hilltop cities which put the lie to the popular image of the Aztecs and their neighbours as bloodthirsty savages. Popular accounts always suggest Cortés was mistaken for a returning god; the truth is very different and far more interesting. Both the Spanish and the Aztecs thought that the world was coming to a close soon, and that they were pleasing their gods in performing vital last deeds.
Facing economic stagnation, inequality and the vulnerability of liberal democracies to extremism, the economist proposes an aggressive and radical re-tooling of our political system with new constraints on both elected officials and voters. Moyo argues for extending politicians’ terms so as to match better the economic cycles; for increasing minimum qualifications for candidates; for introducing mandatory voting, and for implementing a weighted voting system. Moyo’s other books include Dead Aid, Winner Take All and How The West Was Lost. Chaired by Dharshini David.
On an autumn day in 1686, 18-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. The novelist discusses her multi-award-winning debut novel.
A boy and a bear go to sea with a comic book, a suitcase and a ukulele and encounter sea monsters, ghost ships and storms in this slightly scary, surreal and funny story. Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.
Duration 45 mins.
The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War
The biographer talks about her riveting, genre-breaking and multi-award-winning portrait of the Italian poet, fascist and utopian. Introduced by Stuart Proffitt.
Two contributors to the magnificent Seren Press project of commissioning contemporary writers to reimagine the tales of The Mabinogion talk about the women of the stories. Doshi’s book in the series is Fountainville and Dafydd’s The White Trail.
An exclusive preview and discussion of National Theatre of Wales' new ambitious WWI site-specific production, with writer Owen Sheers and Creative Associate Prof. Chris Morris.
Mametz, directed by Matthew Dunster, tells the story of the 38th Welsh Division's July 1916 battle for Mametz Wood. Drawing on the work of writers who fought at the battle, including Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Llewelyn Wyn Griffith and David Jones, the play will take audiences into the heart of the frontline, no man's land and the lives of those who fought and died within Mametz Wood. With readings, video and discussion Owen and Chris will tell the story of the play's genesis from the discovery of an out-of-print book in Hay in 1998, to its current design and development.
Mametz will be performed at Great Llancayo Upper Wood near Usk, Monmouthshire, 24 June–5 July. Tickets and info at http://nationaltheatrewales.org/mametz
Mametz is co-commissioned by National Theatre Wales and 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund
How maps both relate and realign our history. His compelling narratives range from the quest to create the perfect globe to the challenges of mapping Africa and Antarctica, from spellbinding treasure maps to the naming of America, from Ordnance Survey to the mapping of Monopoly. Chaired by Jasper Rees.
Join Jacqueline Wilson as she introduces her new book, set in the Second World War. She will also discuss how she started her writing career and created some of her best-loved characters including Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather.
There will be no book signing after this event but printed bookplates with Jacqueline’s signature will be available with every book bought in the Festival Bookshop.
The eminent art historian explores the role of space and the interior, and the battle between intimacy and monstrosity, in Picasso’s art of the 1920s and 1930s, from the Blue Room to Guernica.