Our 2021 Digital Festival took place 26 May - 6th June, the programme is below.
Most of the events are now available in our online archive Hay Player - please see individual listings for more details.
The book's narrator is a black British woman preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend's family estate in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can't escape the question: is it time to take it all apart? This is about the stories we live within – of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers. And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. "Assembly is illuminating on everything from microaggressions in the workplace, to the reality of living in the 'hostile environment', to the legacy of British colonialism." – Observer
Meena Kandasamy is an Indian poet, fiction writer, translator and activist.
Come quick, there’s been a disaster! A session of extreme dancing has left Maisie in hospital with a broken leg and things are taking a real turn for the weird. Join the Blue Peter Award-winning author for some seriously silly stories, cuddly toys and tuna sandwiches (yuck!). Could Maisie’s leg be cursed? If it is, and it definitely is, then everything is doomed.
Calling wild explorers everywhere! Join the TV presenter and world record breaker to hear her incredible stories, from kayaking the length of the Amazon to cycling to the South Pole. Fun and empowering – you’ll leave feeling fearless and ready to unleash your inner adventurer.
Untold stories of British and Jamaican history come to life in the author's new YA novel, where you can follow the true story of a slave uprising in Jamaica in 1760. Lead character Moa is awoken in the middle of the night by one of the rebels who informs him when the revolt will begin, and the clock is ticking.
At the forefront of British political coverage for more than 30 years as correspondents and broadcasters, Carole Walker and Steve Richards know Westminster inside out. Walker's Lobby Life exposes the battles at Downing Street to control the news agenda, in past and recent. Richards' The Prime Ministers vividly brings to life ten inhabitants of No.10 over the past 50 years, outlining their successes and failures – and what made each of them special.
Guto Harri is the former Chief Political Correspondent with the BBC and Communications Director for Boris Johnson as Mayor of London.
Part of the Festival’s PM300 series marking 300 years since the UK’s first Prime Minister with conversations on leadership and the future of democracy.
It it is estimated that in the UK alone there are tens of thousands of victims of modern slavery. Globally it is 40 million. When an 11-year-old girl from a small town in Wales was groomed into ‘county lines’ drug trafficking, it was the beginning of vicious descent into one abuse after another, involving a huge child-sex trafficking gang. Over several years Emily Vaughn estimates she was raped by 1,500 men. Now in her early thirties, she wants to expose this insidious aspect of modern slavery and help others who have gone through similar experiences. Emily is still in the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), and so for her own safety, she will be represented by her ghost writer Veronica Clark. Shaun Sawyer is the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall and the National Police Lead on Slavery and Trafficking. In conversation with Libby Sutcliffe, journalist/broadcaster and founder of www.slaveryfree.org.
Interpreting research on technology, neuroscience, arts, and ethics, the neuroscientist will examine some of the diverse challenges and opportunities that children and adolescents experience while navigating complex environments in the digital age. She explains how the brain interacts with different environments, how technological innovation can offer much-needed support yet also cause serious harm, and how the arts and music can provide powerful ways for young people to express themselves. Dr. Inkster is a neuroscientist, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge and co-founder of Hip Hop Psych, which uses hip hop music to improve public engagement and awareness in mental health issues and psycho-education.
Delivering this year's lecture is Gary Younge is the professor of sociology at the University of Manchester, broadcaster and former columnist at the Guardian. He is an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy and has written five books, most recently Another Day in the Death of America: a Chronicle of ten Short Lives,. He has written for The New York Review of Books, Granta, GQ, The New York Times, Financial Times and New Statesman. His radio and TV documentaries cover subjects from gay marriage to Brexit.
Think of any problem that we face and you may be surprised to learn that there is already a solution out there. We just need to know where to look – and have the courage to think big. Everywhere, people are devising ingenious ways to tackle everything from inequality and the climate crisis to the challenges of housing, technology and demographic change. Based on his podcast Reasons to Be Cheerful, Ed Miliband investigates transformative schemes and why they work. He demonstrates that a different world is possible and we can get there by implementing the best, most ambitious solutions on a large scale. The opportunity for change is immense. It’s time to Go Big. Natalie Haynes is an author and broadcaster.
As the influence of Spanish culture extends far beyond Spain and Latin America, we celebrate the future literary stars writing in the Spanish language, as selected by Granta. Three of these writers talk to Valerie Miles, writer and editor of the Granta Spanish issue.
In Smoke Hole, the master storyteller and wilderness guide Martin Shaw invites us to use stories to face the complexities of contemporary life, from fake news, parenthood, climate crises to addictive technology and more. We are urged to reclaim our imagination and untangle ourselves from modern menace to find the truth in wilderness and beauty.
Martin is in conversation with the award-winning novelist Fiona Mountain whose latest book, The Keeper of Songs, is out on July 2nd.
We welcome David Diop, the winner of the 2021 International Booker Prize, for his first interview since the announcement. The 2021 shortlist included:
At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut
The Employees by Olga Ravn
In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova
The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard
Sathnam Sanghera (The Boy With The Top Knot) argues in Empireland that so much of what we consider to be modern Britain is rooted in our imperial past: from how we live to how we think, from the foundation of the NHS to the nature of our racism, from our distrust of intellectuals in public life to the the campaign for Brexit and the government’s early response to the Covid crisis. And yet empire is barely taught at school, and even those who celebrate the empire don’t/never seem to look at it too closely.
The New Age of Empire takes us back to the beginning of the European Empires, outlining terror and suffering at every stage of expansion. Kehinde Andrews destroys the myth that the West was founded on the three great revolutions of science, industry and politics. Instead, genocide, slavery and colonialism are the key foundation stones, and we are still living under this system today: America is now at the helm, perpetuating global inequality through business, government, and institutions such as the UN, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.
Kehinde Andrews is the UK's first professor of Black Studies and is Associate Professor in Sociology at the School of Social Sciences at Birmingham City University.
Everything changed in spring 2020, when life around the world retreated behind closed doors and gender inequalities and systemic racism were brought to new and shocking prominence. Women of all backgrounds and experiences were disproportionately affected by the crisis. Essential debate and action was, for a time, silenced. Then we re-emerged in protest and started to rethink our fight for equality. So, what happens now? This book is a unique collection of essays, interviews, and fiction by feminist writers.
In End State: 9 Ways in Which Society is Broken and how we fix it, James Plunkett argues that this can be a moment not of despair, but of historic opportunity – a chance to rethink, renew, and reform some of the most fundamental ways we organise society.
Jess Phillips MP, Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, is joined by comedian Francesca Martinez, activist and author Gina Miller, and James Plunkett, Executive Director of Citizens Advice.
Former sex-worker Georgie wants the truth about Ryan Cusack's past, but the journalist has her own agenda. Mel returns from Brexit Britain, ill-equipped to deal with the resurgence of a family scandal. Karine has always been sure of herself, till a terrible secret tugs the rug from under her. Maureen has got wind that things are changing, and if anyone's telling the story she wants to make sure it's her. The Irish author's new book is a riotous blast of sex, scandal, obsession, love, feminism, gender, music, class and transgression. She talks to Monocle24 broadcaster Georgina Godwin.
Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, sleeping with the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her – painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage, and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young, black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling headfirst into Eric’s home and family. Raven Leilani's debut is painfully funny and razor-sharp about what it means to be young now. Pandora Sykes is Contributing Editor at ELLE magazine and author of How Do We Know We Are Doing It Right?
The rewilding pioneer has used her experience on the Knepp estate in West Sussex to produce a picture book about two farmers who let nature take its course. In this era of eco-anxiety, children will be enthused about what can be achieved. Gaia is an environmental journalist and author of Transcendence. This illustrated talk will be followed by a Q&A.
Join the actress and working peer as she tells how she travelled from Trinidad, aged 10, to make a new life with her family in Britain. Her experience of moving home and making friends shows you can overcome difficulties if you have the courage to believe in yourself.
Join the author to celebrate more than 25 years of the Old Kingdom fantasy novels. Hear about his amazing career, how the Old Kingdom series came into being, and get answers to questions you've always wanted to ask.
Women make up less than 10 per cent of national leaders, and behind this lies a pattern of unequal access to power. This book, by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, explores gender bias and is a powerful call to arms for driven women everywhere.
Julia Gillard was the first woman to serve as prime minister of Australia and received worldwide attention for her October 2012 speech in Parliament on the treatment of women in professional and public life. She is Chair of the Global Institute for Women's Leadership at King's College, London and Chair of the Wellcome Institute.
Mary Ann Sieghart is author of The Authority Gap, revealing the scale of the gap that still persists between men and women, a fresh feminist take on how to address and counteract systemic sexism in ways that benefit all of society.