Europe

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Andrew Davies

War and Peace

Hay Festival 2016, 

The legendary screenwriter talks to Peter Florence about the craft of screenplay and the challenges of scale and intimacy in his six-part BBC television adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel.

Andrew Davies

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Tracy Chevalier, Phil Grabsky and David Bickerstaff

Girl with a Pearl Earring: The Doc and Other Treasures of the Mauritshuis

Hay Festival 2016, 

Chevalier’s best-selling novel inspired many readers to look at Vermeer’s famous painting more closely. Now she has participated in a documentary film directed by Phil Grabsky – part of the pioneering series Exhibition on Screen. How did the writer help the award-winning film-makers to bring the work to life? How has the film affected her own understanding of a painting she thought she knew well?  

Tracy Chevalier, Phil Grabsky and David Bickerstaff

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Roberto Saviano talks to Ed Vulliamy

My Italians: True Stories of Crime and Courage

Hay Festival 2016, 

The investigative journalist and author lives under police protection from the crime syndicates he exposed and denounced in Gomorrah and ZeroZeroZero. He offers a personal and candid portrait of Italy today: a place of trafficking and toxic waste, where democracy is bought and sold, and organised crime rules both north and south.  



Roberto Saviano talks to Ed Vulliamy

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Neil MacGregor and Richard J Evans

Germany and Memory

Hay Festival 2016, 
A conversation with two of the world’s greatest historians. MacGregor is the former Director of the British Museum, author of the BBC Radio 4 series and books A History of the World in 100 Objects and Germany: Memories of a Nation. Evans, Regius Professor Emeritus of History at Cambridge University, is the leading authority on C20th Germany. His most recent book is The Third Reich in History and Memory.
Neil MacGregor and Richard J Evans

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Laura Cumming

The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velázquez

Hay Festival 2016, 
Described as “a riveting detective story and a brilliant reconstruction of an art controversy, it is also a homage to the art of Velázquez, written by a critic who remains spellbound by his genius.” Cumming’s previous Hay session discussed her brilliant study of self-portraiture, A Face to the World. Illustrated lecture.
Laura Cumming

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Yuri Herrera, Marcos Giralt Torrente, Ben Okri

Talking About Shakespeare: Lunatics, Lovers and Poets 1

Hay Festival 2016, 

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare we have commissioned six English language and six Hispanic writers to create stories to celebrate both writers and to offer new and intriguing perspectives on them. In this first of three sessions chaired by Rosie Goldsmith, the first three writers introduce their tales. “Yuri Herrera must be a thousand years old. He must have travelled to hell, and heaven, and back again. He must have once been a girl, an animal, a rock, a boy, and a woman. Nothing else explains the vastness of his understanding” – Valeria Luiselli. Marcos Giralt Torrente is the winner of the Spanish National Book Award, whose The End of Love is published in English. Poet and novelist Ben Okri won the Booker Prize for The Famished Road.

Yuri Herrera, Marcos Giralt Torrente, Ben Okri

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Svetlana Alexievich talks to Bridget Kendall

Second-Hand Time

Hay Festival 2016, 

The 2015 Nobel Literature Laureate talks about Russia and the USSR. Her Nobel citation was for “her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”.

“I don’t ask people about socialism, I ask about love, jealousy, childhood, old age. Music, dances, hairstyles. The myriad sundry details of a vanished way of life. This is the only way to chase the catastrophe into the framework of the mundane and attempt to tell a story. Try to figure things out. It never ceases to amaze me how interesting ordinary, everyday life is. There are an endless number of human truths... History’s sole concern is the facts; emotions are out of its realm of interest. It’s considered improper to admit feelings into history. I look at the world as a writer, not strictly an historian. I am fascinated by people…”

This event will be conducted in Russian, with consecutive translation

Svetlana Alexievich talks to Bridget Kendall

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Edmund de Waal

The White Road: A Pilgrimage of Sorts

Hay Festival 2016, 

The author of The Hare With The Amber Eyes sets out on a quest – a journey that begins in the dusty city of Jingdezhen in China and travels on to Venice, Versailles, Dublin, Dresden, the Appalachian Mountains of South Carolina and the hills of Cornwall to tell the history of porcelain. Along the way he meets the witnesses to its creation; those who were inspired, made rich or heartsick by it, and the many whose livelihoods, minds and bodies were broken by this obsession. It spans a thousand years and reaches into some of the most tragic moments of recent times.

Edmund de Waal

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Luke Harding

A Very Expensive Poison

Hay Festival 2016, 

1 November 2006, Alexander Litvinenko is brazenly poisoned in central London. Twenty-two days later he dies, killed from the inside. The poison? Polonium; a rare, lethal and highly radioactive substance. His crime? He had made some powerful enemies in Russia. Harding, foreign correspondent of the Guardian, argues that Litvinenko’s assassination marked the beginning of the deterioration of Moscow’s relations with the west and a decade of geo-political disruptions: from the war in Ukraine, a civilian plane shot down, at least 7,000 dead, two million people displaced and a Russian president’s defiant rejection of a law-based international order. Chaired by Oliver Bullough.

Luke Harding

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Lars Mytting talks to Rob Penn

Norwegian Wood

Hay Festival 2016, 

Part guide to the best practice in every aspect of working with this renewable energy source, part meditation on the human instinct for survival, Mytting’s definitive handbook on the art of chopping, stacking and drying wood in the Scandinavian way has resonated across the world.

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AC Grayling

The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind

Hay Festival 2016, 

What happened to the European mind between 1605, when an audience watching Macbeth at the Globe might believe that regicide was such an aberration of the natural order that ghosts could burst from the ground, and 1649, when a large crowd could stand and watch the execution of a king? In this turbulent period, science moved from the alchemy and astrology of John Dee to the painstaking observation and astronomy of Galileo. And if the old ways still lingered and affected the new mindset, Descartes’ dualism presented an attempt to square the new philosophy with religious belief. By the end of that tumultuous century “the greatest ever change in the mental outlook of humanity” had irrevocably taken place.

AC Grayling

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Howard Jacobson talks to John Mullan

Shylock is My Name

Hay Festival 2016, 

With an absent wife and a daughter going off the rails, wealthy art collector and philanthropist Simon Strulovitch is in need of someone to talk to. So when he meets Shylock at a cemetery in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, he invites him back to his house. It’s the beginning of a remarkable friendship. The Man Booker winner’s version of The Merchant of Venice bends time to its own advantage as it asks what it means to be a father, a Jew and a merciful human being in the modern world.
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Howard Jacobson talks to John Mullan

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Philippe Sands

The Eric Hobsbawm Lecture: East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Hay Festival 2016, 

The lawyer and writer explores how personal lives and history are interwoven. Drawing from his acclaimed new book – part historical detective story, part family history, part legal thriller – he explains the connections between his work on crimes against humanity and genocide, the events that overwhelmed his family during the Second World War, and an untold story at the heart of the Nuremberg Trial. Chaired by Helena Kennedy.

Philippe Sands

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Jerry Brotton

Talking About Shakespeare: This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World

Hay Festival 2016, 

In 1570, when it became clear she would never be gathered into the Catholic fold, Elizabeth I was excommunicated by the Pope. On the principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, this marked the beginning of an extraordinary English alignment with the Muslim powers fighting Catholic Spain in the Mediterranean, and of cultural, economic and political exchanges with the Islamic world of a depth not again experienced until the modern age. England signed treaties with the Ottoman Porte, received ambassadors from the kings of Morocco and shipped munitions to Marrakesh. By the late 1580s hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Elizabethan merchants, diplomats, sailors, artisans and privateers were plying their trade from Morocco to Persia.

These included the resourceful mercer Anthony Jenkinson who met both Süleyman the Magnificent and the Persian Shah Tahmasp in the 1560s, William Harborne, the Norfolk merchant who became the first English ambassador to the Ottoman court in 1582 and the adventurer Sir Anthony Sherley, who spent much of 1600 at the court of Shah Abbas the Great. The previous year, remarkably, Elizabeth sent the Lancastrian blacksmith Thomas Dallam to the Ottoman capital to play his clockwork organ in front of Sultan Mehmed. The awareness of Islam which these Englishmen brought home found its way into many of the great cultural productions of the day, including most famously Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and The Merchant of Venice. The year after Dallam’s expedition, the Moroccan ambassador, Abd al-Wahid bin Mohammed al-Annuri, spent six months in London with his entourage. Shakespeare wrote Othello six months later. Brotton shows that England’s relations with the Muslim world were far more extensive, and often more amicable, than we have appreciated, and that their influence was felt across the political, commercial and domestic landscape of Elizabethan England.

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Jerry Brotton

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Mervyn King talks to Bronwen Maddox

The End of Alchemy – Money, Banking and the Future of the Global Economy

Hay Festival 2016, 

The former Governor of the Bank of England analyses the causes of the global financial crisis. He proposes revolutionary new ideas to answer the central question: are money and banking a form of alchemy or are they the Achilles heel of a modern capitalist economy?

Mervyn King talks to Bronwen Maddox

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Danny Dorling and Carl Lee

Geography, an Introduction

Hay Festival 2016, 

Channelling our twin urges to explore and understand, geographers uncover the hidden connections of human existence, from infant mortality in inner cities to the decision-makers who fly overhead in executive jets. Geography is a science that tackles all the biggest issues that face us today, from globalisation to equality, from sustainability to population growth, from climate change to advancing technology. 

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Simon Sebag Montefiore talks to John Mitchinson

The Romanovs

Hay Festival 2016, 

The intimate story of tsars and tsarinas; some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. The historian’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, and peopled by a cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy, from Queen Victoria to Lenin. Sebag Montefiore is the author of Catherine the Great & Potemkin and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.

Simon Sebag Montefiore talks to John Mitchinson

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Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, Patrick Kingsley and Ben Rawlence

Refuge and Redemption

Hay Festival 2016, 

In this 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia three writers tell the stories of people escaping horrors and seeking a better world elsewhere. These are the inside stories of refuge and migrations. McDonald-Gibson is the author of Cast Away: Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis; Kingsley is the author of The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis; Rawlence’s book is City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp. Chaired by Oliver Balch.


In association with Wales Pen Cymru

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Christiana Figueres talks to Nick Stern

The British Academy Platform: We’ll Always Have Paris

Hay Festival 2016, 

A conversation with the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, who is now charged with delivering the COP21 Agreement, signed in Paris.  If anyone can do it, she can. And she will.

Christiana Figueres talks to Nick Stern

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Maddy Abbas, Chris Bickerton, Katharina Karcher and Brendan Simms

Cambridge Series 9: The Future of Europe

Hay Festival 2016, 

As support for the extremes of the political spectrum increases across Europe, and Britain threatens to pull out of the EU, what does the future hold for our continent? Abbas is a research associate at the University of Cambridge, Bickerton is a lecturer in politics and Karcher is a research associate in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages. Simms is the author of Britain's Europe: A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation.

Maddy Abbas, Chris Bickerton, Katharina Karcher and Brendan Simms

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Yanis Varoufakis talks to Martha Kearney

And the Weak Suffer What They Must

Hay Festival 2016, 

The former Finance Minister of Greece shows that the origins of the European collapse go far deeper than our leaders are prepared to admit – and that we have done nothing so far to fix it.

Yanis Varoufakis talks to Martha Kearney

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Edna O’Brien talks to Matt Frei

The Little Red Chairs

Hay Festival 2016, 

When a wanted war criminal from the Balkans, masquerading as a faith healer, settles in a small west coast Irish village, the community is in thrall and one woman, Fidelma McBride, falls under his spell. In this astonishing novel, O’Brien charts the consequences of that fatal attraction.

Edna O’Brien talks to Matt Frei

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Thomas Keneally talks to Philippe Sands

Schindler’s Ark

Hay Festival 2016, 

The writer discusses his 1982 Booker-winning novel about Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who risked his life to protect and rescue Jews from Auschwitz. The book was made into a film by Steven Spielberg as Schindler’s List.

Thomas Keneally talks to Philippe Sands

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Ulinka Rublack

The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler’s Fight for his Mother

Hay Festival 2016, 

Kepler is one of history’s most admired astronomers, who famously discovered that planets move in ellipses and defined the three laws of planetary motion. In 1615, at the height of his career, his widowed mother Katharina was accused of witchcraft; the proceedings led to a criminal trial that lasted six years. Kepler conducted his mother’s defence. The trial and the arguments advanced give a revealing picture of Europe on the cusp between the Reformation and the scientific revolution that was to follow.

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John Guy

Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years

Hay Festival 2016, 

History has pictured Elizabeth I as Gloriana, an icon of strength and power. But the reality, especially during her later years, was not as simple. In 1583 Elizabeth is 50 and beyond childbearing age, but her greatest challenges are still to come: the Spanish Armada; the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots; and relentless plotting among her courtiers. The pre-eminent Tudor historian presents a gripping and vivid portrait of Elizabeth’s life and times –often told in her own words (“You know I am no morning woman”) and reveals a monarch who is fallible, increasingly insecure and struggling to lead Britain. The London theatre, however, was thriving.

John Guy

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