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The superhero social entrepreneur, founder of the Big Issue and now member of the House of Lords, brings his new literacy campaign to Hay to launch the second edition of Literary Briefs: Chapters & Verse, championing 50 great books. Join him to talk about the power of libraries, stories and imagination, and to help build a new ‘Wider Reading Alliance’.
Over 50 years, Winston Churchill wrote extensively about art and produced more than 500 paintings. In this lavishly illustrated lecture, the historian offers an entirely new perspective on Churchill and his paintings. Professor Sir David Cannadine is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University, Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and President of the British Academy. His publications include The Undivided Past, In Churchill’s Shadow, Class in Britain and The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy.
The Renaissance historian introduces her biography of the portrait painter who defined his age. Hilliard’s sitters included Elizabeth I, James I, and Mary, Queen of Scots; explorers Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh; and members of the emerging middle class from which he himself hailed. He counted the Medici, the Valois, the Habsburgs, and the Bourbons among his European patrons and admirers. Chaired by Horatio Clare.
A conversation with the dynamic poet, broadcaster and teacher, whose latest books include Worker’s Tales, Reading and Rebellion, and his memoir So They Call You Pisher! Chaired by Peter Florence.
Once upon a (very, very) long time ago Jo Brand was what you might describe as ‘a nice little girl’. Of course, that was before the values of cynicism, misogyny and the societal expectation that Jo would be thin, feminine and demure sent her off down Arsey Avenue. Now she’s considerably further along life’s inevitable bloody ‘journey’ – and she’s fucked up enough times to feel confident she has no wisdom to offer anyone. But who cares? She’s going to do it anyway...
Covering everything from the pros and cons of labels to coming out and the joys of sexual fluidity, the award-winning comedian ponders all the stuff we get hung up about – and then a bit more. Mae’s mission is to ensure that in a world full of things to worry about, who we choose to kiss should not be one of them.
Fuller was born to Windrush-generation Jamaican immigrants in 1959 and experienced a meteoric career in policing, from the beat to the Brixton inferno, through cutting-edge detective work and the frontline of drug-related crime and violence on London’s most volatile estates. He took a pivotal role in the formation of Operation Trident, which tackled gun crime and gang warfare in the London community, and was later appointed Chief Constable of Kent. His memoir Kill the Black One First is a raw and unflinching account of a life in policing during a tumultuous period of race relations throughout the UK, from Britain’s first black Chief Constable.
350 years ago Rembrandt van Rijn died in poverty - but not obscurity - having sublimely reinvented every genre of art that he touched. Twenty years after his Rembrandt's Eyes was published Simon Schama asks what it is that makes his work so deeply moving and how did he re-make the image of humanity?
For more than twenty-five years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. He has also volunteered in areas blighted by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal. Driven by both the desire to help others and the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now widely acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world. Since 2015, the foundation he set up with his wife, Elly, has disseminated the knowledge he has gained, training other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets.
A conversation with the novelist and podcaster. “If I have learned one thing from this shockingly beautiful venture called life, it is this: failure has taught me lessons I would never otherwise have understood. I have evolved more as a result of things going wrong than when everything seemed to be going right. Out of crisis has come clarity, and sometimes even catharsis.”
Jones explores the dependency of all life and systems on Earth – ecological, biological and physical – on our nearest star. He explores the connections between those systems, and the connections between the various disciplines that study them, from astronomy to cancer prevention, from microbiology to the study of sleep. He also charts his own work and interests over fifty years against developments in a wide range of fields, showing how what was once seen as a narrow specialism has become a subject of vast scientific, social and political significance. Jones is Professor of Genetics at University College London and President of the Galton Institute.
In the depths of winter in 1705 the young Johann Sebastian Bach, then unknown as a composer and earning a modest living as a teacher and organist, set off on a long journey by foot to Lübeck to visit the composer Dieterich Buxterhude, a distance of more than 250 miles. This journey and its destination were a pivotal point in the life of arguably the greatest composer the world has yet seen. Lübeck was Bach’s moment, when a young teacher with a reputation for intolerance of his pupils’ failings began his journey to become the master of the Baroque. Chaired by Kirsty Lang.
This first of this year’s all-star readings celebrates the most intimate of literary forms, the diary. Through the words of Samuel Pepys and Anne Frank to Bridget Jones and the most colourful observers of modern times, we explore the lives and loves, the gossip, the confessions, the wisdom and humour of private and public lives. The full cast will be announced on the day.
Turner’s spellbinding new biography explores the poetry and the adventurous, cosmopolitan world of the father of English literature. She documents a series of vivid episodes, moving from the commercial wharves of London to the frescoed chapels of Florence and the kingdom of Navarre, where 14th-century Christians, Muslims and Jews lived side by side. The narrative recounts Chaucer’s experiences as a prisoner of war in France, as a father visiting his daughter’s nunnery, as a member of a chaotic Parliament and as a diplomat in Milan, where he encountered the writings of Dante and Boccaccio. Chaired by Jerry Brotton.
Sophie Ratcliffe’s book is about the things we hide from other people. Love affairs, grief, domestic strife and the mess at the bottom of your handbag. Part memoir, part imagined history, Ratcliffe combines her own experience of childhood bereavement, a past lover and the reality of motherhood and marriage with undiscovered stories about Tolstoy and trains, handbags and honeymoons, to muse on the messiness of everyday life.
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. In her memoir she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. Alderton’s captivating memoir is about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.
Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Tishani Doshi, Huw Edwards, Ann Mroz, Daljit Nagra, Chris Riddell and Jeanette Winterson
As part of the #BooksToInspire campaign, Festival guests bring the novels, poetry and non-fiction that first sparked their love of reading or set them off on a journey of discovery in their lives. #BooksToInspire is a campaign from Hay Festival and TES, inviting book recommendations for primary and secondary schools to inspire the next generation of world changers.
Handel was only twenty-seven and largely self-taught when he followed his princely master to England, where the Hanoverian prince became King George II. Handel would be at the heart of musical activity in London for the next four decades, composing masterpiece after masterpiece from the glorious coronation anthem, Zadok the Priest and operas such as Giulio Cesare, Rinaldo and Alcina to the great oratorios, culminating in Messiah. Glover, who has conducted Handel’s work in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world, draws on her profound understanding of music and musicians to tell Handel’s story.
We celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of the incomparable Renaissance man – artist, scientist, inventor and lover. Brotton and Fletcher are Renaissance historians, Critchlow is a neuroscientist and Greer is a scholar and art historian. Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most inspiring figures of European history.
John Julius Norwich had to withdraw from his Hay Festival event last year and died on 1 June. His family and friends offer this celebration of his work on Sicily, Venice and the Mediterranean, Byzantium and the Kings of England. With readings from his books and from his edition of his mother’s letters Darling Monster: The Letters of Lady Diana Cooper To Her Son John Julius Norwich.