Verdant valleys and Van Morrison

When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown-up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. Here she shares her love of Hay, literature, and talks about the importance of daydreaming. 

I love Hay Festival and the Wye Valley; I think it’s beautiful and I’ve already been on Rightmove! It’s so verdant at this time of year, it feels like walking through a Van Morrison song, the grass is all wet with rain and it’s a very peaceful place. It’s a dream to meet your literary heroes and heroines. I love a celebration of literature because I’m such a massive reader.

I heard Philip Hensher speak last year and he used a phrase that haunts me. He said that he worried the activity of reading a novel would become as niche as model railways because it takes concentration and creativity to be a reader; only half of the story is it being written down, the other is it being imagined and we live in a time where we don’t give ourselves dream-time and time to concentrate. So, Hay is a time for that; a destination for a celebration of literature and I love the whole history of the bookshops in the town. It feels like a literary pilgrimage.

It’s a total honour to be here. I’m very lucky that I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer and I had very specific ideas in my 13-year-old girl's head of what being a writer would be like. One of them was being published by Penguin and one was coming to Hay and both of those things very luckily have happened to me. I must say it has all been more thrilling than I anticipated, so it’s a great privilege to be here.


Dolly Alderton attended Hay Festival on Sunday 26 May. Listen to highlights of the Festival on the Hay Player.