Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe land, nature and weather. The author of The Old Ways, Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places shows that language, well used, is a keen way of knowing landscape, and a vital means of coming to love it.
A conversation between two writers renowned for their explorations of nature and landscape. Robert Macfarlane's Underland, perhaps the most eagerly anticipated non-fiction book of 2019, takes us on a journey into the worlds beneath our feet. From the ice-blue depths of Greenland's glaciers to the underground networks by which trees communicate, from Bronze Age burial chambers to the rock art of remote Arctic sea-caves, this is a deep-time voyage into the planet's past and future, and into darkness and its meanings. Global in its geography, gripping in its voice and haunting in its implications, it is both an ancient and an urgent work.
Macfarlane, a winner of the Hay Festival Prose Medal, is the author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Landmarks and (with Jackie Morris) The Lost Words. Horatio Clare’s latest books are The Light in the Dark and Something of his Art: Walking to Lübeck with JS Bach – Hay Festival’s Book of the Month for December 2018.
See also event  on 29 May – Spell Songs, a musical performance of The Lost Words – Macfarlane's multi-award-winning collaboration with the artist Jackie Morris.
Wells introduces his anthology of essays about the actors, playwrights and family members around the bard, throwing new light on Shakespeare’s wealth, his family and personal relationships, his working life and his social status. Wells is one the world’s greatest Shakespeare experts, editor of both the Penguin and OUP editions of his work, President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and author, most recently of Shakespeare, Sex and Love and Great Shakespeare Actors. He is joined by the great novelist and essayist, Margaret Drabble, who started her working life as an actress at the RSC, and is a contributor to Wells’ new book, The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography.
To launch his delightful and life-changing book on oracy and eloquence, the linguistics professor reveals the tricks of the trade about how to make a speech that’ll wow a wedding, ace an interview or rouse an army. Along the way he analyses Barack Obama’s rhetorically near-perfect Yes We Can speech, and shows how a command of language and delivery can win hearts and minds.
The chair of judges interviews the winner of the £60,000 2015 Prize, who was announced on 19 May in London.
Born in 1954, László Krasznahorkai gained considerable recognition in 1985 when he published Satantango, which he later adapted for the cinema in collaboration with the filmmaker Bela Tarr. In 1993, he received the German Bestenliste Prize for the best literary work of the year for The Melancholy of Resistance and has since been honoured with numerous literary prizes, amongst them the highest award of the Hungarian state, the Kossuth Prize.
Krasznahorkai and his translator George Szirtes were longlisted for the 2013 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for Satantango and Krasznahorkai has won the Best Translated Book Award in the US two years in a row, in 2013 for Satantango and in 2014 for Seiobo There Below. Seiobo There Below was published in the UK on 7 May by Tuskar Rock Press.
The judging panel for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize was chaired by celebrated writer and academic Marina Warner. The panel also comprised Wen-chin Ouyang, Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at SOAS, University of London; acclaimed author Nadeem Aslam; novelist and critic Elleke Boehmer, who is currently Professor of World Literature in English at Oxford University; and Edwin Frank, editorial director of the New York Review Books Classics.
The judges said of Krasznahorkai’s work: ‘In László Krasznahorkai’s The Melancholy of Resistance, a sinister circus has put a massive taxidermic specimen, a whole whale, Leviathan itself, on display in a country town. Violence soon erupts, and the book as a whole could be described as a vision, satirical and prophetic, of the dark historical province that goes by the name of Western Civilisation. Here, however, as throughout Krasznahorkai’s work, what strikes the reader above all are the extraordinary sentences, sentences of incredible length that go to incredible lengths, their tone switching from solemn to madcap to quizzical to desolate as they go their wayward way; epic sentences that, like a lint roll, pick up all sorts of odd and unexpected things as they accumulate inexorably into paragraphs that are as monumental as they are scabrous and musical.’
Announcing the winner, Marina Warner commented: ‘Laszlo Krasznahorkai is a visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range who captures the texture of present day existence in scenes that are terrifying, strange, appallingly comic, and often shatteringly beautiful. The Melancholy of Resistance, Satantango and Seiobo There Below are magnificent works of deep imagination and complex passions, in which the human comedy verges painfully onto transcendence. Krasznahorkai, who writes in Hungarian, has been superbly served by his translators, George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet.’
Shakespeare is the best and most creative writer of the English language of all time. He deploys the widest and most thrilling vocabulary, drawing on classical and biblical scholarship and the keenest ear for human speech ever bent. And where the words he needed didn’t exist, he invented them. The classical actor and his father, the great Linguistics professor, entertain us with the most vital language ever used.
The triumphant, concluding volume in David Crystal’s trilogy on the English language combines the first history of English punctuation with a complete guide on how to use it. The punctuation of English, marked with occasional rationality, is founded on arbitrariness and littered with oddities. Professor Crystal leads us through this minefield with characteristic wit and clarity. [DC on semi-colons is hilarious; also painfully funny on exclamation marks! Ed.]
The novelist discusses contemporary American culture, so presciently imagined in his latest novel The Golden House, freedom of speech, language, literature, love and death. Few writers have such a keen sense of human absurdity, and such a spectacular gift for telling its stories.
The journalist interrogates the ideas of safe space on campus, the psychology of “vindictive protectionism” and the practice of “no-platforming” speakers. In a political culture that is susceptible to polarisation, where social media amplifies grievance and offence, how do we wield free speech? Aaronovitch discusses his lecture with Clemency Burton-Hill. He talks about his memoir Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists on Sunday
What did performances of Shakespeare’s plays sound like in his day? Linguistics professor David Crystal introduces OP (original pronunciation) and marvels at the wonders of the playwright’s revolutionary vocabulary. Molina Foix (who translates Shakespeare for contemporary Spanish theatre) considers the reality that most people in the world discover the great writer’s work in translation.
What can we learn from the ancient Romans and Greeks about the impact of migration on language? And how is this relevant to contemporary concerns about immigration and language change?
In his first official event as National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn will discuss Welsh literature with his predecessor, Gillian Clarke. Both poets will read from their work and share their stories and thoughts on this thriving scene.
Yn ei ddigwyddiad cyntaf fel Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru, bydd Ifor ap Glyn yn trafod llenyddiaeth Cymru gyda’i ragflaenydd, Gillian Clarke. Bydd y ddau fardd yn trin a thrafod byd barddoniaeth ac yn taflu ambell gerdd i’r pair hefyd.
Amidst the numbers and summits of the refugee crisis, the voices of those who have fled conflict and persecution can be lost. Join us for readings from women across the world who have sought protection in the UK and learnt English with the British Red Cross in South Wales, where they have been writing about their experiences. Sharing their stories from the point of departure to their arrival in Britain, they write eloquently about the asylum system and life in the UK.
The English Language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today? The Oxford Professor investigates the evolution of the English language, examining how it continues to adapt, as English continues to find new speakers and new uses. Engaging with contemporary concerns about correctness, he considers whether such changes are improvements, or evidence of slipping standards. What is the future for the English Language? Will Standard English continue to hold sway, or are we witnessing its replacement by newly emerging Englishes?
What are the limits of free speech and civility? What is the nature of ‘offence’? What earns ‘respect’? If words can hurt you, are sticks and stones and broken bones the answer? Rachael Jolley is the editor of Index. David Aaronovitch writes for The Times. Laura Bates is Founder of the Everyday Sexism project. Nikesh Shukla is a novelist and editor of The Good Immigrant anthology to be published in September.
The winning author and translator of Celestial Bodies join us for a conversation with the chair of the jury. Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present.
Bettany Hughes says: “Through the different tentacles of people’s lives and loves and losses we come to learn about this society – all its degrees, from the very poorest of the slave families working there to those making money through the advent of a new wealth in Oman and Muscat. It starts in a room and ends in a world. We felt we were getting access to ideas and thoughts and experiences you aren’t normally given in English. It avoids every stereotype you might expect in its analysis of gender and race and social distinction and slavery. There are surprises throughout. We fell in love with it.”
If you’ve ever felt the shock of listening to a recording of your own voice, you realise how important your voice is to your personal identity. We judge others not just by their words but by the way they talk: their intonation, their pitch, their accent. The Professor of Acoustic Engineering explores the full range of our voice – how we speak and how we sing; how our vocal anatomy works; what happens when things go wrong and how technology enables us to imitate and manipulate the human voice.
What is an ennog? A jitty? A twitten? In fact, they are all the same thing. These are all regional names for ‘a narrow walkway running between or alongside buildings’. The English language has scores of different regional names for such an alleyway including drangway, ginnel, snicket and vennel. The English language throughout its history has been full of regional diversity – it is a language made up of dialects. The author of Studying Dialect will take us on an absorbing journey down the everyday drangways of the English language.
Birmingham University Series
Film-makers are often attracted to Shakespeare’s plays with their vivid characters, exciting stories and scope for new takes on familiar subjects. But ever since the pictures started talking, the language has been a challenge both in quality and quantity; there isn’t the need for so much dialogue in a medium where showing trumps telling. Jackson has been text consultant for several feature films – including all of Kenneth Branagh’s versions of Shakespeare’s plays – and many stage productions. His books include Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema, Shakespeare Films in the Making, and The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film.
An interview with the novelist, winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize.
“It’s like a Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner, with maybe a little creative boost from some primo ganja. It’s epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting – a testament to Mr. James’ vaulting ambition and prodigious talent.” New York Times
McMullan and Mair have carefully selected the nine most fascinating documents held by The National Archives relating to Shakespeare’s life. Presented together for the first time, these are some of the most significant documents in the world that track Shakespeare’s life as a citizen of London, a businessman, a family man, a servant to the King, and even possibly a thief and a subversive. They explore both his domestic and professional lives, what it meant to live in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, and the social impact of his plays. McMullan is also the editor of the new digital Norton edition of the complete plays.
This is the first of two sessions introducing the most exciting voices of Latin American fiction, stars of the 2018 selection for Bogotà 39 and launching the English-language edition of a globally published anthology. Colanzi is a Bolivian short story writer and editor whose work includes the collection Our Dead World. Restrepo Pombo is the editor of Gatopardo magazine and of the anthology The Sorrows of Mexico. His fiction appears in the Bogotà 39 Anthology. Fonseca was born in Costa Rica and grew up in Puerto Rico. His novel Colonel Lagrimas is available in English. They read and talk to Daniel Hahn.
It's the most simple, unassuming, innocent-looking verb: 'to be'. Yet it is jam-packed with more different meanings, forms and uses than any other English word. As he reveals ‘be's’ multiple incarnations, Prof Crystal takes us to the heart of our flexible and changing language. We meet circumstantial be ("how are you?"), numerical be ("two and two is four"), quotative be ("so I was like, 'wow'"), and ludic be ("oh no he isn't!"), and a whole swarm of other meanings.
How does automatic translation work and will machines ever be able to replace a ‘human’ translator? A panel of experts from University of Cambridge discuss latest developments. Sanson is a Reader in Italian Language, Literature and Culture, Byrne is Professor of Information Engineering and Tomalin is Research Associate in the Speech Research Group of the University Engineering Department.