We review an extraordinary year for cycling – from the Olympic Velodrome to the heroes and villains of the Tour de France – with the authors of On The Road Bike: The Search For A Nation’s Cycling Soul, Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike and It’s All About The Bike: The Pursuit Of Happiness On Two Wheels.
What would you do if you had to power the UK? Kate, Marcus and Mark get to grips with how to generate enough energy to keep the lights on and power their appliances. Dependency on overseas supplies, volatile fossil fuel prices and the need for a low-carbon economy makes this one of the biggest challenges facing the country. Chaired by Mark Lynas and using the 2050 calculator.
We are delighted to launch Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble by the bestselling author of Stalingrad, Berlin and D-Day.
On 16 December 1944, Hitler launched his ‘last gamble’ in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes. He believed he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp, then force the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the east. Many were exultant at the prospect of striking back.
The Ardennes offensive, with more than a million men involved, became the greatest battle of the war in western Europe. American troops, taken by surprise, found themselves fighting two panzer armies. Belgian civilians fled, justifiably afraid of German revenge. Panic spread even to Paris. While many American soldiers fled or surrendered, others held on heroically, creating breakwaters that slowed the German advance.
The harsh winter conditions and the savagery of the battle became comparable to the eastern front. And after massacres by the Waffen-SS, even American generals approved when their men shot down surrendering Germans. The Ardennes was the battle that finally broke the back of the Wehrmacht.
Tracey Emin’s art is one of disclosure, using her life events as inspiration for works ranging from painting, drawing, video and installation, to photography, needlework and sculpture. Emin reveals her hopes, humiliations, failures and successes in candid and, at times, excoriating work that is frequently both tragic and humorous.
Emin’s work has an immediacy and often sexually provocative attitude that firmly locates her oeuvre within the tradition of feminist discourse. By re-appropriating conventional handicraft techniques – or ‘women’s work’ – for radical intentions, Emin’s work resonates with the feminist tenets of the ‘personal as political’. In Everyone I’ve Ever Slept With, Emin used the process of appliqué to inscribe the names of lovers, friends and family within a small tent, into which the viewer had to crawl, becoming both voyeur and confidante. Her interest in the work of Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele particularly inform Emin’s paintings, monoprints and drawings, which explore complex personal states and ideas of self-representation through manifestly expressionist styles and themes.
Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963, and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. She has exhibited extensively internationally including solo and group exhibitions in Holland, Germany, Japan, Australia and America. In 2007 Emin represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale, becoming the second female artist ever to do so. That same year, Emin was made a Royal Academician and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, a Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent and a Doctor of Philosophy from London Metropolitan University. In 2011 she became the Royal Academy’s Professor of Drawing and in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts.
She talks to the editor of GQ magazine.
18 July 1898 and the world-renowned novelist Emile Zola is on the run. His crime? Intervening in the Dreyfus case and taking on the highest powers in France with his open letter J’accuse. Forced to leave Paris with nothing but the clothes he is standing in and a nightshirt wrapped in newspaper, Zola flees to England with no idea when he will return. This is the little-known story of his time in exile. Rosen offers an intriguing insight into the mind, the loves, the politics and the work of the great writer.
The day after the première, members of the Welsh National Opera creative team and cast discuss their bicentenary production of Wagner’s great opera – a sublime confrontation between good and evil set on an epic symphonic scale.
The first public interview with Lydia Davis, winner of the 2013 Prize, which was awarded in London on 22 May. Previous winners have been Ismail Kadare, Chinua Achebe, Alice Munro and Philip Roth.
Lydia Davis is an American writer who was born in Massachusetts in 1947 and is now a professor of creative writing at the University at Albany, the capital of New York State. She is best known for two contrasting accomplishments: translating from the French, to great acclaim, Marcel Proust’s complex Du Côté de Chez Swann (Swann’s Way) and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and writing short stories, a number of them among the shortest stories ever written. Much of her fiction may be viewed under the heading of philosophy, poetry or short story, and even her longer creations may be as succinct as two or three pages. She has been described by the critic James Wood in his latest collection, The Fun Stuff and Other Essays, as ‘a tempestuous Thomas Bernhard’. Most of all, as Craig Morgan Teicher of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in 2009, the year that Davis’s Collected Stories appeared as a single volume: ‘She is the master of a literary form largely of her own invention.’
Set in 1960s Ireland, Tóibín’s new novel Nora Webster introduces one of the most complex and captivating heroines of contemporary fiction. He discusses the book and his new study On Elizabeth Bishop. He creates a vivid picture of the American poet while also revealing how her work has helped shape his sensibility as a novelist and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own.
Photo: Brigitte Lacombe
As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly-democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face? From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, this is a powerful story of love, race and identity spanning three continents and filling numerous lives.
At QI’s very core is the astonishing fact: painstakingly researched and distilled to a brilliant and shocking clarity. Pigs suffer from anorexia. Wagner always wore pink silk underwear. Rugby School’s first official rugby kit in 1871 included a bow tie. Lord Kitchener had four spaniels called Shot, Bang, Miss and Damn. It is impossible to whistle in a spacesuit. Join in the fun with the QI writing team.
Waterloo was the climactic showdown between the military giants of the age, Napoleon and Wellington, who faced each other for the first and only time across the sodden rolling Belgian farmland south of Brussels on the morning of Sunday 18 June 1815. More than 150,000 French, British, Dutch and Prussian soldiers fought an epic, bloody and decisive encounter that ended the Napoleonic Wars and led to Bonaparte’s final abdication and decades of international peace in Europe.
Peter and Dan Snow tell the story of Napoleon’s 100 Days Campaign, from his Elba escape to his defeat at Waterloo. Their book, The Battle of Waterloo Experience, provides what no other book on the battle contains – removable facsimiles of historic archival documents. You can relive this extraordinary moment in history by holding and examining rare or previously unpublished sketch maps, letters, orders, official papers and proclamations which up until now have been filed away in the National Army Museum’s collections or in other archives and museums around Europe.
Get close to the action by reading the campaign journal of a colonel of Hussars, the Duke of Wellington’s handwritten orders to the commander defending the farm of Hougoumont, the poignant letters written to family and loved ones by officers and men shortly after the battle, the paybook of a soldier of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, and The Times of 22 June 1815, containing a complete transcript of Wellington’s renowned Waterloo Dispatch.
The Waterstones chief James Daunt and the chair of judges Sir Rodric Braithwaite host a discussion on writing about Russia with Douglas Smith (shortlisted author of Former People) and author and judge Rachel Polonsky. The shortlist was announced on 25 April.
The whimsical world of undertaker Wilfred Price springs to glorious life in the second chapter of Wendy Jones’ enchanting Welsh odyssey. Entertaining popular fiction at its best. In conversation with Andy Fryers.
The Basque Country in the early 1980s was a nation beset by conflict, its economy in ruins. Three decades later and it’s a nation at peace and second only to Luxembourg in Europe’s prosperity stakes. And all this with an equality index on a par with Scandinavia. Come and hear how they did it from the man who led the country from the opening of the Guggenheim to the eve of ETA’s lasting ceasefire. What are the lessons for other countries? You may be surprised… Chaired by Adam Price.
As part of Hay Festival’s big Shakespeare 400 Celebrations, the writer and lecturer discusses the playwright’s poetry.
Twenty-five years after a bomb brought Pan Am Flight 103 down on the town, the novelist James Robertson, author of The Professor Of Truth, and Dr Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing and who is a member of the Justice For Megrahi group, reflect on the tragedy.