To watch Hay Festival Digital 2020 please subscribe to Hay Player.
The great deceit of evolution is that it has bestowed characteristics upon us that are visible but not meaningful. We are obsessed with categorisation, plagued by an innate and tyrannous desire to group things together, and this includes one another. One of the easiest ways is by skin colour, but as Adam Rutherford shows this is a terrible way to categorise people. The way we talk about race is not reflected in our modern understanding of the genetic basis of human variation. 'Black' is an identifier that says very little about the similarities of billions of people apart from a very imprecise reference to pigmentation. Variation in skin tone predated humans' emergence in Africa and is moderated by a handful of genes out of 20,000. And - crucially - there is more genetic diversity within Africa than in the rest of the world put together. These are scientifically uncontroversial things to say. Yet scientific racism is back, and increasingly part of the public discourse on politics, migration, education, sport and intelligence. How to Argue with a Racist is a short, crisp manifesto for a 21st-century understanding of human evolution and variation, and a timely weapon against the use of science to justify bigotry.
Rutherford presents BBC Radio 4’s weekly programme Inside Science, and with Dr. Hannah Fry, The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry. He has written and presented several award winning television documentaries, including The Cell (2009), The Gene Code (2011), the Beauty of Anatomy (2014), and Playing God, on the rise of synthetic biology for the BBC’s long-running science series Horizon. His first book, Creation was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.
A conversation about writing into an authoritarian world, finding ways of telling truths and making the case for Human Rights. Shafak is the author of the global bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World. She writes in both Turkish and English. Sands is a lawyer, President of English PEN and the author of the Baillie Gifford Prize-winning East West Street. Introduced by Daniel Gorman, director of English PEN.
What is the future of journalism in our newly wrangled world? Hirsch is Wallis Annenberg Chair at The University of Southern California. She is the author of Brit(ish) and Equal to Everything, and hosts the About The British Empire podcast on audible. She writes for the Guardian, and broadcasts internationally. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
Shakespeare's position as England's national poet is established and unquestionable.
But as James Shapiro illuminates in this revelatory new history, Shakespeare has long held an essential place in American culture. Why, though, would a proudly independent republic embrace England's greatest writer? Especially when his works enact so many of America's darkest nightmares: interracial marriage, cross-dressing, same-sex love, tyranny, and assassination
Investigating a selection of defining moments in American history - drilling into issues of race, miscegenation, gender, patriotism and immigration; encountering Presidents, activists, writers and actors - Shapiro leads us to fascinating answers and uncovers rich and startling stories.
Shapiro, who teaches English at Columbia University in New York, is author of several books, including 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (winner of the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize in 2006), as well as Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? He also serves on the Board of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The multi-award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams introduces extracts from his celebrated autobiographical one-man show and discusses the latest twists and turns in his life with the online audience. Littered with poems, stories and anecdotes, the show tells his ridiculous, fantastic, poignant immigrant-story of escaping fundamentalist Islam, experiencing prejudice and friendship in Dublin, performing solo at the National Theatre, and drinking wine with the Queen of England, all the while without a country to belong to or place to call home.
As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadeführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed, including the family of the author's grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for 'mass murder'. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the Poles and the British, as well as groups of Jews, Wächter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps, assisted by his wife Charlotte, before making his way to Rome where he was helped by a Vatican bishop. He remained there for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the 'ratline' he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after spending a weekend with an 'old comrade'.
In The Ratline Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a senior Nazi and fugitive, and of his wife. Drawing on a remarkable archive of family letters and diaries, he unveils a fascinating insight into life before and during the war, on the run, in Rome, and into the Cold War. Eventually the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wächter's youngest son, who continues to believe his father was a good man - what happened to Otto Wächter, and how did he die?
In this second of a series of short talks specially commissioned to engage with renewal, the Palo Alto-based Spanish lawyer, an expert on EU legislation and founder of the project Inspiring girls, speaks about the unpaid and undervalued domestic work that allows family units to function but is still not accounted or legislated. The coronavirus crisis has shifted the attention to what goes on inside the home and González Durántez will explore why domestic work is so crucial for society.
The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across the oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all. With wit and humour, stand-up comedian, Radio 4 broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes brings the story of the Trojan War to life from an all-female perspective, giving voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent. The great illustrator and cartoonist Chris Riddell will live draw the cast of heroines as the show develops. Haynes’ novel A Thousand Ships has been shortlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize.
Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) present Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.
The UK strand of the Trans.MISSION of the project features writer Patrice Lawrence and a team of experts led by Dr Sarah Ayling and Professor Lindsey McEwen. Using Dr Ayling's work as inspiration, Patrice has created a piece of creative writing to highlight the issues around UK droughts and water scarcity. Dr Sarah Ayling is a plant physiologist based at the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at UWE, Bristol. She has studied the effects of drought and the root environment on plant growth in the UK, USA and Australia. Prof Lindsey McEwen is Professor of Environmental Management within the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the UWE, Bristol, and Director of the Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience. Patrice Lawrence is a British writer and journalist, who has published fiction both for adults and children. Her writing has won awards including the Waterstones Children's Book Prize for Older Children and The Bookseller YA Book Prize.
The story that Patrice has created is called “Day Zero and Chips” and will be launched on 25 May.
The overarching strand of the Trans.MISSION II project is a new animation by award-winning illustrator and author Chris Haughton. Chris has taken the three stories, written by Erika Stockholm (Peru), Juan Cardenas (Colombia) and Patrice Lawrence (UK) and responded with an illustrated animation, drawing together the main themes and commonalities that the research in these three countries is revealing.
With the support of The Natural Environment Research Council
The history of the Yan family is inseparable from the history of China over the last century. One of the most influential businesswomen of China today, Lan Yan grew up in the company of the country's powerful elite, including Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and other top leaders. Her grandfather, Yan Baohang, originally a nationalist and close to Chiang Kai-shek and his wife, Soong May-ling, later joined the communists and worked as a secret agent for Zhou Enlai during World War II. Lan's parents were diplomats, and her father, Yan Mingfu, was Mao's personal Russian translator.
In spite of their elevated status, the Yan's family life was turned upside down by the Cultural Revolution. One night in 1967, in front of a terrified ten-year-old Lan, Red Guards burst into the family home and arrested her grandfather. Days later, her father was arrested, accused of spying for the Soviet Union. Her mother, Wu Keliang, was branded a counter-revolutionary and forced to go with her daughter to a re-education camp for more than seven years, where Lan came of age as a high school student.
In recounting her family history, Lan Yan brings to life a century of Chinese history from the last emperor to present day, including the Cultural Revolution which tore her childhood apart. The little girl who was crushed by the Cultural Revolution has become one of the most active businesswomen in her country. In telling her and her family's story, she serves up an intimate account of the history of contemporary China.
What is Language? It’s not just words. That much we know. It’s grammar. It’s context. It’s meaning. It’s communication. It transacts. It conveys. It imagines. It thinks ... Is it an external frame or an internal engine? And what is it then to live in a bilingual mind and a multilingual world? Hopwood is the only woman to have won the three main prizes for poetry and prose in the Eisteddfod - Wales’ national cultural festival. She has been Children Laureate for Wales and was awarded the Glyndwr prize for her contribution to literature. Her collection Nes Draw won the poetry section of the Welsh language Book of the Year Awards, 2016. She writes mainly in Welsh and has degrees in Spanish and German language and literature. Mererid has taught throughout her career and is now at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. Chaired by Guto Harri.
As places where human knowledge, thought and experience are held, libraries are often vulnerable during times of conflict. Like places of education, they are frequently targeted in an attack on collective knowledge and freedom of thought, as was the case when IS destroyed the Iraqi University of Mosul’s library in 2015.
Renowned BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson leads historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes (whose latest book is Venus and Aphrodite), Book Aid International Chair Lord Paul Boateng and the award-winning sculptor and author of The Hare With Amber Eyes and The White Road. in a discussion on what it means when libraries become targets during conflict and how individuals and communities are affected.
Who thought up paper money? How did the contraceptive pill change the face of the legal profession? Why was the horse collar as important for human progress as the steam engine? How did the humble spreadsheet turn the world of finance upside-down?
The world economy defies comprehension. A continuously-changing system of immense complexity, it offers over ten billion distinct products and services, doubles in size every fifteen years, and links almost every one of the planet's seven billion people. It delivers astonishing luxury to hundreds of millions. It also leaves hundreds of millions behind, puts tremendous strains on the ecosystem, and has an alarming habit of stalling. Nobody is in charge of it. Indeed, no individual understands more than a fraction of what's going on.
How can we make sense of this bewildering system on which our lives depend?
Tim Harford is a member of the Financial Times editorial board. His column, 'The Undercover Economist', which reveals the economic ideas behind everyday experiences, is published in the Financial Times and Slate. He is also the only economist in the world to run a problem page, 'Dear Economist'. Tim presented the BBC television series 'Trust Me, I'm an Economist' and now presents the BBC radio series 'More or Less'.
We can survive the climate crisis. Figueres and Rivett-Carnac show us how.
We have two choices for our future, which is still unwritten. It will be shaped by who we choose to be right now. So, how can we change the story of the world?
The Future We Choose is a passionate call to arms from former UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, and Tom Rivett-Carnac, senior political strategist for the Paris Agreement. We are still able to stave off the worst and manage the long-term effects of climate change, but we have to act now. We know what we need to do, and we have everything we need to do it.
Practical, optimistic and empowering, The Future We Choose is a book for every generation, for all of us who feel powerless in the face of the climate crisis.
'One of the most inspiring books I have ever read' Yuval Noah Harari, bestselling author of Sapiens. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
This film was made to be shown only once, on Monday 25 May at 6.30pm. It will not be held on Hayplayer or repeated on crowdcast.
A meditation on continuance, by Ali Smith, filmwork by Sarah Wood.
Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962. She is the author of Spring, Winter, Autumn, Public library and other stories, How to be both, Shire, Artful, There but for the, The first person and other stories, Girl Meets Boy, The Accidental, The whole story and other stories, Hotel World, Other stories and other stories, Like and Free Love. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. How to be both won the Bailey's Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Autumn was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017 and Winter was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2018.
Sarah Wood works with the found object, particularly the still and moving image, as an act of reclamation and re-interrogation. She works mainly with the documentary image to interrogate the relationship between the narrating of history and individual memory. Recently she's been focussing on the meaning of the archive, in particular the politics of memory, asking not only why some objects are preserved while others are ignored but also why preservation is made at certain historical moments. Wood also works with artists’ film as a curator. With Selina Robertson she co-founded Club des Femmes, a positive female space for the re-examination of ideas through art.
FALASTIN is a love letter to Palestine. An evocative collection of over 110 unforgettable recipes from the co-authors of Jerusalem and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, and Ottolenghi SIMPLE.
Travelling through Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Nablus, Haifa, Akka, Nazareth, Galilee and the West Bank, Sami and Tara invite you to experience and enjoy unparalleled access to Sami's homeland. As each region has its own distinct identity and tale to tell, there are endless new flavour combinations to discover.
The food is the perfect mix of traditional and contemporary, with recipes that have been handed down through the generations and reworked for a modern home kitchen, alongside dishes that have been inspired by Sami and Tara's collaborations with producers and farmers throughout Palestine.
With stunning food and travel photography plus stories from unheard Palestinian voices, this innovative cookbook will transport you to this rich land.
Since the release of her first, career-defining solo album Little Earthquakes, Tori Amos has been one of the music industry's most enduring and ingenious artists. From her unnerving depiction of sexual assault in 'Me and a Gun' to her post-9/11 album Scarlet's Walk to her latest album Native Invader, her work has never shied away from intermingling the personal with the political.
Amos began playing piano as a teenager for the politically powerful at hotel bars in Washington, D.C., during the formative years of the post-Goldwater and then Koch-led Libertarian and Reaganite movements. Amos explains how she managed to create meaningful, politically resonant work against patriarchal power structures - and how her proud declarations of feminism and her fight for the marginalised always proved to be her guiding light. She teaches listeners to engage with intention in this tumultuous global climate and speaks directly to supporters of #MeToo and #TimesUp, as well as young people fighting for their rights and visibility in the world.
An exacting analysis of the responses to the covid-19 pandemic from one of the world's most respected experts. Professor Sridhar is chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, and co-author with Chelsea Clinton of Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? Chaired by Daniel Davis.
The new novel from the author of The Improbability of Love, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction, is a mischievous satire of English money and class. The seat of the Trelawney family for over 800 years, Trelawney Castle was once the jewel of the Cornish coast. Each successive Earl spent with abandon, turning the house and grounds into a sprawling, extravagant palimpsest of wings, turrets and follies. But recent generations have been better at spending than making money. Now living in isolated penury, unable to communicate with each other or the rest of the world, the family are running out of options. Three unexpected events will hasten their demise: the sudden appearance of a new relation, an illegitimate, headstrong, beautiful girl; an unscrupulous American hedge fund manager determined to exact revenge; and the crash of 2008. A love story and social satire set in the parallel and seemingly unconnected worlds of the British aristocracy and high finance, House of Trelawney is also the story of lost and found friendships between three women. One of them will die; another will discover her vocation; and the third will find love.
The immune system holds the key to human health, and is perhaps the greatest asset we have in dealing with the coronavirus. In The Beautiful Cure, leading immunologist Professor Daniel Davis describes the scientific quest to understand how it works – and how it is affected by stress, sleep, age and our state of mind. He explains how this knowledge is now unlocking a revolutionary new approach to medicine and well-being, and what we are discovering about our natural ability to cope with the covid-19 pandemic.