Hay Festival 2021

We are delighted to present our 2021 Digital Festival programme.

Find more information on how to register here. Most events will be available for free replay for up to 24 hours after the start time of the event. After this they will be available in our online archive Hay Player - please see individual listings for more details.

All events are available with subtitles – this option can be selected when you watch the event.

Event HD20

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Helen Skelton talks to Jules Hudson

Wild Girl: How to Have Incredible Outdoor Adventures

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

7+

Event HD21

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Alex Wheatle

Cane Warriors

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

12+

Event 104

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Carole Walker and Steve Richards talk to Guto Harri

The Secret World of Westminster

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

Event 105

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Emily Vaughn (represented by Veronica Clark) and Shaun Sawyer in conversation with Libby Sutcliffe

County Lines – Modern Slavery in the UK

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

Event 106

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Becky Inkster

Lunchtime Lecture Series 9: Young People's Mental Health in a Complex World

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

This event will be pre-recorded but the speaker will be live on the chat to answer questions during the event, and for 15 minutes afterwards.

Event 107

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Gary Younge, introduced by Ian Goldin

The Aneurin Bevan Lecture: "Not set in stone: Why we need fewer statues and more honesty."

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

Event 108

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Ed Miliband

Go Big: How to fix our World

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

Event 109

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Andrea Abreu, Cristina Morales and Irene Reyes Noguerol in conversation with Gaby Wood

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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 Gaby Wood, who was part of the judging panel in this selection.

Event 110

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

John Densmore and Martin Shaw

The Seekers and Smoke Hole

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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A year of lockdowns and isolation has reinforced the importance of music and stories in sustaining our souls. We explore this dual topic with two of the finest proponents of these arts. John Densmore was the drummer in The Doors, and has had a long career in the music business, both creating and producing. In his memoir The Seekers: Meetings with Remarkable Musicians, he investigates the meaning of music with other artists and performers.

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.

Event 111

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

The 2021 International Booker Prizewinner talks to Rosie Goldsmith

Hay Festival Exclusive

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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We welcome the winner of the 2021 International Booker Prize for their first interview since the announcement. The 2021 shortlist is:

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

Event 112

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Sathnam Sanghera and Kehinde Andrews talk to Oliver Bullough

The British Empire – Glory or Shame?

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

Event 113

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Jess Phillips, Francesca Martinez and Gina Miller in conversation with James Plunkett

This Is How We Come Back Stronger

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

In association with the British Library Living Knowledge Network

Event 114

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Lisa McInerney talks to Georgina Godwin

The Rules of Revelation

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

Event 115

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Raven Leilani talks to Pandora Sykes

10@10: New writers – Luster

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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?

There will be no Q&A at the end of this event.

Event HD22

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Isabella Tree talks to Gaia Vince

When We Went Wild

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

4+

Event HD23

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Floella Benjamin

Coming to England

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

3+, Family

Event HD24

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Garth Nix

Old Kingdom Series

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

12+

Event 116

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Julia Gillard and Mary Ann Sieghart in conversation

Women in Leadership

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

Event 117

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Sarah Winman talks to Natalie Haynes

Still Life

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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It’s 1944 and in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as the Allied troops advance and bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening together. Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier and one-time globe-maker, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and relive her memories of the time she encountered E. M. Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view. These two unlikely people find they have kindred spirits and Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses' mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades. Moving from the Tuscan hills to the smog of London's East End and the piazzas of Florence, this is a mischievous, richly peopled novel about beauty, love, family and fate.

The author talks to Natalie Haynes, writer, broadcaster, comedian and author of Pandora's Jar, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, The Amber Fury and The Children of Jocasta.

Event 118

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Didier Queloz

Lunchtime Lecture Series 10: The Exoplanet Revolution

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Over the last 25 years scientists have identified a large number of exoplanets –planets from outside our solar system – ranging from large planets sauch as Jupiter to smaller, denser objects such as Earth. This has opened up new perspectives on the possible rarity of planetary systems like our own, and raising exciting prospects for the potential of probing planet atmospheres for traces of life. The Nobel Laureate, Professor of Physics at University of Cambridge, discusses what the latest research tells us about the origins of life.

This event will be pre-recorded but the speaker will be live on the chat to answer questions during the event, and for 15 minutes afterwards.

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