Hay Festival Digital #Imaginetheworld

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Event 10

Greg Jenner talks to John Mitchinson

Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver Screen

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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In this ambitious history Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity's historical roots. He reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight. Dead Famous is a surprising, funny, and fascinating exploration of both a bygone age and how we came to inhabit our modern, fame obsessed society.

Greg Jenner is a public historian, broadcaster, and author, and an Honorary Research Associate at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he does some occasional teaching. He is the Historical Consultant to BBC's Emmy & multiple BAFTA award-winning Horrible Histories, and was a key member of the team on Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten RomansHe is the host of the BBC comedy podcast You're Dead To Me!is a regular voice on BBC Radio 4, and his TV appearances include BBC2's The Great History Quiz and Inside Versailles. His first book A Million Years In A Day was a UK number 1 audiobook bestseller and was translated into nine languages. Chaired by John Mitchinson of Unbound, formerly elf-convenor at QI.

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Event 12

Rutger Bregman chaired by Lily Cole

Humankind: A Hopeful History

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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It’s a belief that unites the left and right, psychologists and philosophers, writers and historians. It drives the headlines that surround us and the laws that touch our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Pinker, the roots of this belief have sunk deep into Western thought. Human beings, we're taught, are by nature selfish and governed primarily by self-interest.

Providing a new historical perspective on the last 200,000 years of human history, Humankind makes a new argument: that it is realistic, as well as revolutionary, to assume that people are good. When we think the worst of others, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics too.

Rutger Bregman shows how believing in human kindness and altruism can be a new way to think and act, as the foundation for achieving true change in our society. It is time for a new view of human nature.

Bregman is one of Europe’s most prominent young historians. His previous book, Utopia for Realists was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and has been translated from the Dutch into more than thirty languages. Bregman has twice been nominated for the prestigious European Press Prize for his work at De Correspondent, and his writing has also featured in the Washington Post and the Guardian. His TED talk, ‘Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash’, has been viewed more than three million times.

In 2019, Bregman went viral after calling out tax-shy billionaires at the World Economic Forum in Davos and then again when he confronted Fox News host Tucker Carlson. These videos have been viewed over twenty-four-million times. 

Lily Cole is an environmental activist, model, actress and filmmaker. She holds an MA in history of art from the University of Cambridge, was an affiliate at The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Glasgow, for her contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes through social businesses. Her book Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimism in our Changing World will be published in July.

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Event 16

Jonathan Bate

The Poet Who Changed the World: William Wordsworth and the Romantic Revolution

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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A dazzling new biography of Wordsworth’s radical life as a thinker and poetical innovator, published to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.

William Wordsworth wrote the first great poetic autobiography. We owe to him the idea that places of outstanding natural beauty should become what he called ‘a sort of national property’. He changed forever the way we think about childhood, about the sense of the self, about our connection to the natural environment, and about the purpose of poetry.

He was born among the mountains of the English Lake District. He walked into the French Revolution, had a love affair and an illegitimate child, before witnessing horrific violence in Paris. His friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge was at the core of the Romantic movement. As he retreated from radical politics and into an imaginative world within, his influence would endure as he shaped the ideas of thinkers, writers and activists throughout the nineteenth century in both Britain and the United States. 


In association with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Wordsworth Trust

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Event 24

James Shapiro

Shakespeare in a Divided America

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

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Event 26

Philippe Sands talks to Stephen Fry

The Ratline

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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?

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Event 30

Lan Yan talks to Philippe Sands

House of Lan: A Family at the Heart of a Century in Chinese History

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

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Event 50

Simon Schama

Return of the tribes. Nationalism in the Age of Global Disaster

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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The historian explores the isolations and protections of our current situation in a time of Coronavirus, and reflects on the clear and present dangers to society and the world.

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Event 51

Michael Wood

China

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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China’s history is one of the richest and most thrilling narratives in  the world.  At a time when anti-Chinese feeling is rising across the globe, even in the UK, it is all the more important to see China from its own point of view- a big theme of this year’s  “Imagine the World” Hay Festival. In this talk Michael Wood previews his forthcoming book, The Story of China: A Portrait  of a Civilisation and its People: a riveting grand sweep narrative which is the  product of four decades of travel and  filming in China. Packed with big ideas, landscape and travel, and peoples' stories, it  depicts Chinese history from  multiple viewpoints, from clan histories  and oral reminiscences, poetry and letters, village diaries, personal memoirs and imperial memoranda, along with the latest archaeological finds, telling a story of intense drama,  fabulous creativity, and deep humanity.

Film maker broadcaster and historian,  Michael is the  author  of many  highly praised books including the Sunday Times Number One bestsellers In Search of the Trojan War, Domesday and In the Footsteps of Alexander the  Great. He has also made some 120 documentary films, which have been seen around the world, among them The Story of India (’the gold standard of documentary history making” - Wall Street Journal) and The Story of England  ( ‘the most innovative history series ever made for TV' -Independent).  Michael is Professor of Public History at Manchester University.

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Event 72

William Dalrymple

The Anarchy

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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The multi-award-winning historian presents The Anarchy, a cautionary tale of the rise of the East India Company, a vast and ruthless private army, perpetrators of one of the most supreme acts of corporate violence in world history.

Dalrymple’s award-winning books include In Xanadu, City of Djinns, Age of Kali, Nine Lives and The Last Mughal. 

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Event 73

Hilary Mantel talks to Peter Florence

The Mirror and the Light

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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The novelist discusses the final volume of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies won the Booker Prize. Spoiler alert - please save this gig for when you've finished the book…

You can hear Hilary Mantel discuss Bring Up the Bodies at Hay 2012 on HayPlayer.

This event will be audio only in a special edition of the Hay Festival Podcast
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Event 84

Hallie Rubenhold and Lisa Taddeo

Eight Women

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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A conversation between the authors of two of the most successful non-fiction books of current times.

Rubenhold’s Ballie Gifford Prize-winning The Five is a reclamation of the lives of the women murdered by Jack the Ripper, and is the subject of a recent Hay Festival podcast.

Taddeo’s Three women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions.:

All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn't touch her?
All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?
All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?

Chaired by Stephanie Merritt.

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