A Night of Hope’ set the tone for Hay 2021 at a gala of Festival stars and some very special  guests chose readings from works that have carried them through the dark moments of the past 14 months, and are an inspiration to us all. Author and broadcaster Natalie Haynes introduced each speaker, beginning with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who launched this year’s Festival and said Hay’s principle of bringing readers and writers together was close to her heart. She started her own reading group during lockdown.

Watch the session of Wednesday 26 May 2021 again on Hay Player.

In order of appearance, here are the speakers and their chosen works:

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall – ‘A Gentleman In Moscow’ by Amor Towles

Benjamin Zephaniah – ‘People Will Always Need People’

Louise Brealey – 'From Women to the World: Letters for a New Century' by Elizabeth Filippouli

Romola Garai – ‘To Hope’ by John Keats

Karl Nova –  ‘The Amazing Discovery’

Hafsa Zayyan – Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare

Sindhu Vee – ‘Us Two’ by A. A. Milne

Hollie McNish – ‘Obsessive Cannibal Love Poem’ by Michael Pedersen

Maggie Aderin-Pocock – ‘Antidotes to Fear of Death’ by Rebecca Elson

Joanne Harris – Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Rufus Mufasa – ‘Carol Haf’ by Ioan ap Hywel

Juno Dawson – ‘Wonderland’

Margaret Busby – ‘Playing in the Dark’ by Toni Morrison

Richard Eyre – The Mystery of Things’

Charly Arrowsmith –Sonnet 73 by Shakespeare, in British Sign Language

Jessica Raine – ‘Hope Is The Thing With Feathers’ by Emily Dickinson

Guvna B – 'One of Them' by Musa Okwonga

Rob Brydon – ‘Small man in a Book’

Clemency Burton-Hill – ‘The Guesthouse’ by Rumi

Stephen Fry – ‘The Trees’ by Philip Larkin

Natalie Haynes – ‘Whose Mouse Are You?’ by Robert Kraus

Theresa Lola – ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou