Premonitions are impossible. But they come true all the time. What if you knew that something terrible was going to happen? What if you could share your vision? Could these forebodings help the world to prevent disasters? In 1966 John Barker, a dynamic psychiatrist working in an outdated British mental hospital, established the Premonitions Bureau to investigate these questions. He would find a network of hundreds of correspondents, from bank clerks to ballet teachers. Among them were two unnervingly gifted ‘percipients’. Together, the pair predicted plane crashes, assassinations and international incidents with uncanny accuracy. And then, they informed Barker of their most disturbing premonition: that he was about to die.
Sam Knight’s The Premonitions Bureau is an enthralling true story, of madness and wonder, science and the supernatural — a journey into the oddest corners of ‘60s Britain and the most powerful and unsettling reaches of the human mind. He talks to LBC radio host Matt Stadlen.
For millennia the rose has played a significant role in religion, the legal system, politics and all the arts from Europe right across to the Far East. It is a symbol of love and beauty, an important ingredient in the culinary and cosmetic worlds, and a medicine to cure both physical and psychological ailments. In the garden too it plays a crucial role and, with its long flowering period, beautiful blooms and wonderful fragrance, is one of the most garden-worthy and versatile of all plants.
Explore the central role roses play both in our everyday lives and in our gardens with leading rosarian Michael Marriott.
From her punk days growing up in Southampton, to revolutionising the bridal industry, Jenny Packham takes us on her journey to find inspiration from a Paris flea market and the vintage stores of LA. She pieces together her life, and a career filled with a passion for exquisite clothes, with her brother Chris, the naturalist and TV presenter.
Anthony Horowitz pulls the trigger on his new James Bond novel on its publication day. With a Mind to Kill opens with M’s funeral. One man is missing from the graveside: the traitor who is now in custody, accused of M’s murder – James Bond. Behind the Iron Curtain, a group of former Smersh agents want to use the British spy in an operation that will change the balance of world power. Bond is smuggled into the lion’s den – but whose orders is he following, and will he obey them when the moment of truth arrives? In a mission where treachery is all around and one false move means death, Bond must grapple with the darkest questions about himself. But not even he knows what has happened to the man he used to be.
Anthony Horowitz is the only author in recent years to have been invited by Ian Fleming Publications to write successive, official James Bond novels. In 2015 he published Trigger Mortis, continuing with Forever and a Day in 2018. Both were critically acclaimed bestsellers, and With a Mind To Kill completes Horowitz’s trilogy of original 007 novels.
So much has been written about Norman Scott – from the newspapers who covered the Jeremy Thorpe trial in 1979, insulting Norman with homophobic slurs, to the book A Very English Scandal and its subsequent dramatisation (Norman was played by Ben Whishaw). Here, for the first time, he tells his remarkable story in his own words to writer and former broadcast journalist Rachel Clarke. From his disruptive childhood to how he found solace in friendship with animals and some of the jaw-dropping characters and moments that he has encountered throughout a quite remarkable life, in An Accidental Icon he reveals the life of a man many people think they know, but do not.
Throughout another year of bluster and bedlam in Westminster, John Crace’s brilliantly acerbic political sketches have once more provided the nation with a much-needed injection of humour and satire. In A Farewell to Calm the Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer introduces an infectiously funny selection of his finest pieces and talks to journalist Max Liu about everything from Covid to Partygate and Brexit to war in Ukraine.
“It’s now becoming easier and easier to predict government policy. Just listen to what the prime minister said in the morning and the opposite is likely to be true come the middle of the afternoon.”
Melvyn Bragg revisits and reflects on his life from childhood to adulthood in the Cumbrian market town of Wigton, from the early years alone with his mother while his father fought in the war to the moment he left the town. It’s the tale of a working-class boy who grew up in a pub and expected to leave school at 15; who happily roamed the streets and raided orchards with his friends yet had a chronic breakdown when he was 13, forcing him to find new survival strategies; who was deeply embedded in a close-knit community, and experiencing the joys of first love, yet also found himself drawn to a mentor keen to steer him towards the challenge of an Oxford scholarship.
It’s equally the tale of the place that formed him and a compelling and poignant recreation of a vanished era: an elegy for a community-spirited northern town with its factories and churches and chapels steeped in the old ways, but on the cusp of rapid post-war change; and a celebration of the glorious Lakeland landscapes which inspired Bragg from an early age. This love letter to his home town and the people who shaped him is imbued with all the luminous wonder of those indelible early memories which nurtured his future life as a writer, broadcaster, and champion of the arts.
The author of the bestselling, Booker Prize-shortlisted phenomenon We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves discusses her brilliant new historical novel, Booth. In 1822, the Booth family move into a secret cabin near Baltimore to farm; to hide. Junius – breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor and master of the house in all ways – is at once a mesmerising talent and a man of terrifying instability.
The Booths cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families, but behind the curtains multiple scandals, family triumphs and disasters begin to take their toll. But it is Johnny who makes the terrible decision that will change the course of history – the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
All Walls Collapse brings together newly commissioned fiction in translation by twelve acclaimed writers from across the world, exploring the walls and borders that have sought to divide communities and nations, and their effects on people’s lives and histories.
From the Berlin Wall to the fences of Uyghur internment camps in Xinjiang, the US–Mexico border to the edge of the ‘Fortress of Europe’, and the barbed wire of the Korean Demilitarised Zone to the fences erected to hide Rio’s favelas before the 2016 Olympics, this groundbreaking collection of short stories examines our relationship to walls, both real and perceived.
Krisztina Tóth is a highly acclaimed Hungarian poet and Geetajali Shree is a Hindi author longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022.
Join Cressida Cowell, bestselling author-illustrator of the much-loved How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series, in her final festival appearance as UK Waterstones Children’s Laureate. Cressida talks about her books and their inspirations, dragons, wizards and sharing writing and illustration tips. She will also be giving Hay an exclusive sneak peek of her sketchbooks and will read from her new book series, Which Way to Anyway.
Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer Wade Davis talks about his latest work Magdalena, the River of Dreams, about the Magdalena River in Colombia. His memoir braids together history and journalism, adventure through a spectacular landscape and a kaleidoscopic picture of Colombia’s complex past, present and future.
The Jan Morris Lecture is a space to celebrate the legacy of this great voyager, historian and journalist, and to listen to fascinating stories about the most significant landscapes around the world, through the work of great travel writers.
1972 was a landmark year for the emerging women’s liberation movement. A time of great optimism and hope, it saw the birth of two great feminist institutions – Spare Rib and Virago Books. Both challenged the stereotyping and exploitation of women and played a key role in transforming the role of women in society. But fifty years on, how far have we come?
Join Carmen Callil, writer, publisher and founder of Virago, and Rosie Boycott, co-founder of Spare Rib, journalist and cross-bench peer to discuss this question with Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 100,000 testimonies of gender inequality, to discuss gender issues and where we stand on gender equality today.
Mazzucato calls for new levels of boldness and experimentation to be applied to the biggest social and political issues of our time: inequality, disease and climate change. She argues we need to rethink the capacities and role of government within the economy and society, launching new ‘missions’ that require and incentivise innovation in all sectors to achieve a common goal.
Her ‘mission-oriented’ approach means fundamentally changing the relationship between public and private, making them more genuinely purpose-driven. With its ideas already being adopted around the world – including by the European Commission and Scottish government – Mission Economy offers a way out of our impasse to a more inclusive and sustainable future. She talks to Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett.
Yasmin Ghorami has a lot to be grateful for: a loving family, a fledgling career in medicine, and a charming, handsome fiancée, fellow doctor Joe Sangster. But as the wedding day draws closer and Yasmin’s parents get to know Joe’s firebrand feminist mother, both families must confront the unravelling of long-held secrets, lies and betrayals. As Yasmin dismantles her own assumptions about the people she holds most dear, she’s also forced to ask herself what she really wants in a relationship and what a ‘love marriage’ actually means.
Love Marriage is a story about who we are and how we love in today’s Britain – with all the complications and contradictions of life, desire, marriage and family. What starts as a captivating social comedy develops into a heartbreaking, gripping story of two cultures, two families and two people trying to understand one another.
In association with the British Council
BBC Radio 4’s Fi Glover and Jane Garvey don’t claim to have all the answers (what was the question?), but they take modern life by its elasticated waist and give it a brisk going-over with a stiff brush. They riff together on the chuff of life, from pet deaths to the importance of hair dye, the perils and pleasures of judging other women, and the perplexing over-confidence of chino-wearing, middle-aged white men named Roger.
They go over some essential life skills (never buy an acrylic jumper, always decline the offer of a limoncello), pondering orgasm merchandise and suggesting the possibility that Christmas is an hereditary disease, passed down the maternal line.
Are our brains hardwired to hate? Is social media to blame for an increase in hateful abuse? With hate on the rise, what can we do to turn the tide? Drawing on twenty years of pioneering research – as well as his own experience as a hate-crime victim – world renowned criminologist and Director of Cardiff University’s pioneering HateLab, Matthew Williams explores one of the pressing issues of our age. Surveying human behaviour across the globe and reaching back through time, from our tribal ancestors in prehistory to artificial intelligence in the twenty-first century, his The Science of Hate is a groundbreaking and surprising examination of the elusive ‘tipping point’ between prejudice and hate.
A special event in partnership with Untold’s Write Afghanistan project to launch My Pen Is The Wing Of A Bird: New Fiction by Afghan Women, the first anthology of short fiction in translation by Afghan women. Contributor Masouma Kawsari joins translator Zarghuna Kargar and Untold Narratives’ Founder and Director Lucy Hannah to discuss and perform extracts of these powerful, profound and deeply moving new pieces.
“These stories will expand your mind and elevate your heart” – Elif Shafak.
Human journeys into space fill us with wonder. But the thrill of space travel for astronauts comes at enormous expense and is fraught with peril. As our robot explorers grow more competent, governments and corporations must ask, does our desire to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars justify the cost and danger? Martin Rees believes that beyond low-Earth orbit, space exploration should proceed without humans.
The United Kingdom’s Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees was previously Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. His latest book, co-written with Donald Goldsmith, is The End of Astronauts. Professor Catherine Heymans is Astronomer Royal for Scotland.
Damon Galgut’s 2021 Booker Prize-winning novel charts a country in transition and a family in crisis. On a farm outside Pretoria, the Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for – not least their treatment of the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. Salome was to be given her own house, her own land… yet somehow, that vow is carefully ignored. As each decade passes, and the family assemble again, one question hovers over them. Can you ever escape the repercussions of a broken promise?
Damon Galgut was shortlisted for the Booker Prize twice with The Good Doctor and In a Strange Room before winning in 2021 with The Promise.
In Preventable: The Politics of Pandemics and How to Stop the Next One Professor Devi Sridhar uses the spellbinding story of the Covid-19 pandemic to show how global politics shape our health. Sridhar has risen to prominence for her vital roles in communicating science to the public and speaking truth to power. She highlights lessons learned from outbreaks past and present – including her personal experience as a scientist during the Covid-19 pandemic – and sets out a vision for how we can better protect ourselves from the inevitable health crises to come. In dissecting the global structures that determine our fate, Sridhar reveals the deep-seated economic and social inequalities at their heart. Chaired by Ritu Dhand.