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The full programme is available for this year’s festival, 25 May to 4 June - you can download a PDF of the programme here. We very much look forward to seeing you in May.
Click here to see a list of sold out events
Politics: Between the Extremes
Event 20 • • Venue: Tata Tent
The former Deputy Prime Minister lifts the lid on the workings and failings of the 2010--2015 coalition government, analyses the 2017 European electoral cycle, and assesses the opportunities for the liberal centre ground of politics.
Protestants: The Faith that Made the Modern World
Event 21 • • Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage
500 years ago, Martin Luther challenged the authority of the Pope with a radical new vision of what Christianity could be. The revolution he set in motion has toppled governments, upended social norms, and transformed millions of people’s understanding of their relationship with God. In his dazzling global history charting five centuries of innovation and change, Ryrie makes the case that the world we live in was indelibly shaped by Protestants.
What I Found in the Library
Event 22 • • Venue: Good Energy Stage
For 600 years, exquisitely produced volumes stored everything we know – from Gutenberg’s bibles to Newton’s Principia and Austen’s Persuasion. Purcell tells a rollicking tale of discoveries and bibliophile treasures from some of Britain’s greatest private library collections that are now saved for the nation. Purcell was formerly Libraries Curator for the National Trust and is now Deputy Director of Research Collections at Cambridge University Library.
Another Man’s Shoes
Event 24 • • Venue: Starlight Stage
Ellie’s father Sven and uncle Jacob, both leading scientists, led the XU Norwegian Resistance movement against the Nazi occupation in WW2. She tells a mesmerising story of espionage and heroism illustrated with artefacts and documents as she traces the survival of the XU all the way through the Cold War until 1988.
The May Day Manifesto
Event 29 • • Venue: Good Energy Stage
It is 50 years since the publication of the May Day Manifesto, edited by Raymond Williams. The manifesto reflected the growing disillusionment on the Left with what the authors argued to be the surrendering of socialist principles by the Labour Party. The panel explores the making of the manifesto and examines its relevance today.
Stefan Collini is Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at the University of Cambridge, Bonnie Greer is a playwright, author and judge for this year’s Orwell Prize, Leanne Wood AM is the Leader of Plaid Cymru, Merryn Williams is a critic, poet, and daughter of Raymond Williams and Daniel G. Williams is Professor of English Literature at Swansea University.
Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy and Myths
Event 40 • • Venue: Starlight Stage
100 years on, as Russia again fills the headlines, an intriguing insight into a world shocked and changed forever. The British Library curator introduces the most resonant exhibits from their Russian collection -- from a first edition of the Communist Manifesto to anti-Bolshevik propaganda and Lenin’s handwritten application for a Reader Pass. Chaired by Oliver Bullough.
The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping – Show and Tell
Event 41 • • Venue: Cube
What is this for? And how do I clean it? The National Trust’s Director of Curatorship and his team of expert conservator colleagues display and demonstrate some of the most wonderful and eccentric household items from their collections. They’ll offer advice on anything you’d like to bring along.
The Art of Dining
Event 47 • • Venue: Starlight Stage
A celebration of the exquisite craftsmanship and elegance of silverware and porcelain in a tour of social history with National Trust experts James Rothwell, author of Silver for Entertaining and Patricia Ferguson, author of Garnitures, Ceramics and Cobalt Treasures. Chaired by Simon Murray.
Myths & Legends of the Brecon Beacons
Event 60 • • Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage
Discover the magic and myths hidden in the rolling hills of the Brecon Beacons. Find Arthur and his knights sleeping away the decades in a cave, and go on the search for the White Lady of Tretower Court with the award-winning author of Down To The Sea In Ships, The Prince’s Pen and Orison for a Curlew. Chaired by Peter Florence.
The Disappearance of Emile Zola
Event 83 • • Venue: Oxfam Moot
18 July 1898 and the world-renowned novelist Emile Zola is on the run. His crime? Intervening in the Dreyfus case and taking on the highest powers in France with his open letter J’accuse. Forced to leave Paris with nothing but the clothes he is standing in and a nightshirt wrapped in newspaper, Zola flees to England with no idea when he will return. This is the little-known story of his time in exile. Rosen offers an intriguing insight into the mind, the loves, the politics and the work of the great writer.
Event 89 • • Venue: Oxfam Moot
Drawing on his work over the past 40 years, the historian considers the context of contemporary Europe’s political upheavals, its challenges and its opportunities. Schama’s books include Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, A History of Britain, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, Landscape and Memory and The Story of the Jews.
Where the Line is Drawn: Crossing Boundaries in Occupied Palestine
Event 90 • • Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage
Brave, intelligent and deeply controversial, the award-winning author of A Rift in Time, Occupation Diaries, Language of War ~ Language of Peace and Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape explores the devastating effect of Occupation on even the most intimate aspects of life. Looking back over decades of political turmoil, Shehadeh traces the impact on the fragile bonds of friendship across the Israel-Palestine border, and asks whether those considered bitter enemies can come together to forge a common future.
Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time
Event 99 • • Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage
An Englishman arrives back from Calcutta but refuses to adjust his watch. Beethoven has his symphonic wishes ignored. The timetable arrives by steam train. A woman designs a 10-hour clock and reinvents the calendar. Roger Bannister becomes stuck in the same four minutes for ever. Garfield offers a vivid and compelling exploration of the ways we have perceived, contained and saved time over the past 250 years. Chaired by Olivia Cole.
SAS: Rogue Heroes –The Authorised Wartime History
Event 110 • • Venue: Tata Tent
In the summer of 1941, at the height of the war in the Western Desert, a bored and eccentric young officer, David Stirling, has a vision for a new kind of war: attacking the enemy where they least expect it – from behind their own lines. Despite the intense opposition of many in British High Command, Winston Churchill personally gives Stirling permission to recruit the toughest, brightest and most ruthless soldiers he can find. With unprecedented access to the SAS secret files, unseen footage and exclusive interviews with its founder members, the author of Operation Mincemeat, A Spy Amongst Friends and Agent Zigzag tells the remarkable early story of the Herefordshire Regiment.
Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities
Event 111 • • Venue: Oxfam Moot
The historian tells the story of the three-in-one great cities of Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul, which has long been the gateway between East and West. Archaeologists have measured 42 layers of human inhabitation here on the Bosphorus over the past 6,000 years. It has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires and, for many years, was known simply as The City.
The Baillie Gifford Prize Lecture: East West Street
Event 116 • • Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage
Sands’s inquiry into the origins of 'genocide' and 'crimes against humanity' is also a personal quest for his family in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. It won this year’s Baillie Gifford Prize. Hay Festival-goers will have heard Sands explore many of the themes of the story here over the past decade. We revisit East West Street this year to honour one of the greatest works of literature of the festival’s lifetime; a book that might be read around Europe and around the world to inform the way contemporary history is developing.
Jane Austen 200
Event 118 • • Venue: Good Energy Stage
The author of What Matters in Jane Austen celebrates the bi-centenary of the great novelist and talks about what defines her genius with the novelist, Colm Toíbín and Sarah Churchwell.
Enlightenment and Jihad
Event 122 • • Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage
Bellaigue tells the forgotten stories of key figures and reformers of Islam’s past 200 years in The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason; from Egypt’s visionary ruler Muhammad Ali to brave radicals such as Iran’s first feminist Qurrat al-Ayn. Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West by Gilles Kepel is the explosive account of the radicalisation of a segment of Muslim youth that led to the 2016 atrocities at Bataclan and in Nice, and of the failure of governments in France and across Europe to address it.
Cambridge Series: The Moor’s Last Stand
Event 127 • • Venue: Good Energy Stage
The poignant story of Boabdil, the last Muslim king of Granada. Betrayed by his family and undermined by faction and internal conflict, Boabdil was defeated in 1492 by the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of the newly united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. The Christian victory marked the completion of the long Christian reconquest of Spain and ended seven centuries in which Christians, Muslims and Jews had, for the most part, lived peacefully and profitably together in La Convivencia.
Fictions: London Tales
Event 130 • • Venue: Cube
John presents her novel The Haunting of Henry Twist – a mysterious love story set in 1926 that recalls the power and strangeness of Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Arnott’s The Fatal Tree is set 200 years earlier and is about the true story of Edgeworth Bess, which mesmerised C18th society: a riveting, artful tale of crime and rough justice, love and betrayal. Rich in the street slang of the era, it vividly conjures up a murky world of illicit dens and molly-houses; a world where life was lived on the edge, in the shadow of that fatal tree – the gallows.
Blood and Faith–The Purging of Muslim Spain 1492-1614
Event 165 • • Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage
In 1609, the entire Muslim population of Spain was given three days to leave Spanish territory or be killed. In a brutal and traumatic exodus, entire families were forced to abandon the homes and villages where they had lived for generations. An estimated 300,000 Muslims had been removed from Spanish territory, making it – then – the largest act of ethnic cleansing in European history. Chaired by Abdul-Rehman Malik.
Event 188 • • Venue: Good Energy Stage
The classicist celebrates the spectacular anniversary of the birth of the ‘father of history’. Herodotus was a great, infinitely curious investigator and a digressive storyteller, whose Histories are the source of so much of what we know of the ancient world. Cartledge is AG Leventis Professor Emeritus of Greek Culture at Cambridge. His many books include The Greeks; Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed The World; After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars; The Spartans.
Event 191 • • Venue: Oxfam Moot
The historian conjures the supreme C16th monarchs whose empires and kingdoms shaped the modern world. He explores the schism in Christianity and the flowering of Islam in the Ottoman Empire. He shows with exquisite erudition how Henry VIII of England, Francis I of France, Charles V of Spain and Suleiman the Magnificent forged the politics, culture and religion of their time and ours.
True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy
Event 192 • • Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage
The harrowing story of an American traitor who sold out his country to the Russian president. Noel Field, once a well-meaning and privileged American working in the State Department, spied for the Soviets during the 1930s and -40s. Later, a pawn in Stalin’s sinister master strategy, Field was kidnapped and tortured by the KGB, and forced to testify against his own Communist comrades. Marton is an award-winning journalist, a human rights campaigner, and the author of Enemies of the People and The Great Escape.
The Holocaust: A New History
Event 212 • • Venue: Oxfam Moot
Mixing extensive research and testimony from survivors with a searing analysis of the decision-making of the Nazi state, the distinguished film-maker and historian’s landmark work answers two of the most fundamental questions in history – how, and why, did the holocaust happen?