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.
The ancient Welsh poem, The Gododdin, charts the rise and fall of 363 warriors in the battle of Catraeth, around the year AD 600. The men of the Brittonic kingdom of Gododdin rose to unite the Welsh and the Picts against the Angles, only to meet a devastating fate. Composed by the poet Aneirin, the poem was originally orally transmitted as a sung elegy, passed down for seven centuries before being transcribed in early Welsh by two medieval scribes. It is composed of one hundred laments to the named characters who fell, and follows sophisticated alliterative poetics. The former National Poet of Wales animates this historical epic with a modern musicality, making it live in the language of today.
Rufus Mufasa is an artist, literary activist, poet, rapper, singer-songwriter, theatre maker and a previous Hay Festival Writer at Work.
The end of our high-growth world was underway well before Covid arrived and the relentless pursuit of 'more' has delivered climate catastrophe, social inequality and financial instability – and left us ill prepared for life in a global pandemic. Drawing from global data, Danny Dorling points out that human progress has been slowing down since the early 1970s, revealing the decline in fertility rates, GDP per person, and even the frequency of new social movements have all steadily declined in recent history. Rather than a cause for despair, in Slowdown he argues that this is a moment of promise and a chance of stability.
Tim Jackson’s Post-Growth is a passionate and provocative book daring us to imagine a world beyond capitalism – a place where relationship and meaning take precedence over profits and power. Weaving together philosophical reflection, economic insight and social vision, it is a manifesto for system change and an invitation to rekindle a debate about the human condition.
Danny Dorling holds professorships at Oxford, Goldsmiths London and Bristol.
Tim Jackson is an ecological economist and Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity.
Katherine Trebeck is an advocate for economic system change and author of The Economics of Arrival: Ideas for a Grown-Up Economy.
'This is not a book about how we can save the trees. This is a book about how the trees might save us'
No one has done more to transform our understanding of trees than Professor Suzanne Simard. She was the scientist who discovered that every tree in a forest is linked by underground fungi, allowing them to communicate and build communities around powerful, nurturing Mother Trees.
Today her work is taken as scientific orthodoxy and has inspired countless researchers, writers, and filmmakers, including James Cameron, Robert Macfarlane and Richard Powers, who based a character on Simard in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Overstory.
But people didn’t always listen. Despite her ground-breaking discoveries, she was initially dismissed by the male-dominated scientific establishment of the day. It would be years until the world took her ideas seriously: in 1997, a landmark paper in the journal Nature coined the term Wood Wide Web to describe her work, marking the dawn of a new era of ecological awareness.
Now, for the first time, Suzanne Simard tells her own story, in her own words, bringing us into the world of Mother Trees that enable our survival.
Suzanne Simard is a professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences and teaches at the University of British Columbia and Finding the Mother Tree is her first book.
She is in conversation with Patrick Goymer, Chief Editor of Nature Ecology and Evolution.
From Finnish saunas and soppy otters to grief, grandparents and Kellogg’s anti-masturbation pants, Hollie McNish's book, Slug, tackles in poetry and prose the choices presented by life today. With so many possibilities, there is a nagging feeling that we’re somehow failing to live our best life. What does doing it right even look like? Hollie's earlier collection, Nobody Told Me, won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.
How do we Know We’re Doing it Right? is the title of Pandora Sykes' book. From faster-than-fast fashion to millennial burn-out, the explosion of 'wellness' the author interrogates the stories we’ve been sold and the ones we tell ourselves. Wide-ranging and witty, the book explores the anxieties and myths that consume our lives and the tools we use to muddle through. They talk to the TV presenter Anita Rani.
The past year has shown us that we need nature more than ever. And although it has never been more under pressure, there are reasons to be hopeful.
Through personal stories, conservation breakthroughs and scientific discoveries, this bookcaptures the essence of how we feel about the wildlife outside our windows. From the resurgence of storks in Britain to lesser horseshoe bats returning to the Isle of Man, to what we can do to encourage wildlife into our own spaces, whether that’s a woodland, a garden, a balcony or our streets, it explores the wonder and solace of nature, and how we can connect with it.
Chris Packham is the leading host of BBC2’s Springwatch, Autumnwatchand Winterwatch.Megan McCubbin is a zoologist, conservationist, photographer, and Chris Packham's stepdaughter. Andy Fryers is Hay Festival Sustainability Director.
For 33 years The Royal Society has celebrated outstanding popular science writing and authors. Their Book Prize is awarded annually by a panel of expert judges, comprising eminent scientists, authors, journalists and broadcasters. From hundreds of entries are shortlisted only six books, which make popular science writing compelling and accessible. Join three of those shortlisted for last year’s Prize: Gaia Vince (Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time), Jim Al-Khalili, (The World According to Physics) and the winner, Camilla Pang (Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships).
Previous winners include Stephen Hawking (2002), Bill Bryson (2004), Cordelia Fine (2017), Mark Miodownik (2014), Caroline Criado Perez (2019) and Camilla Pang (2020). The 2021 shortlist will be announced later this summer.
Gunnar Kampen grew up in Reykjavik during the Second World War in a household strongly opposed to Hitler and his views. Doted on by his mother and two older sisters and with a business degree, he is well set up in life. And yet, in the spring of 1958, he forms an antisemitic nationalist party and begins supporting an ever-growing international network of Neo-Nazis, which takes him on a clandestine mission to England, despite being terminally ill. Based on one of the ringleaders of a little-known Neo-Nazi group that operated in Reykjavík in the late '50s and early '60s, this novel explores why a young man is drawn to Nazi ideology. The author talks to the arts correspondent Rosie Goldsmith.
A stellar cast will share writing by some of our most influential women. Drawing on work from two important new books, The Penguin Book of Feminist Writing edited by Hannah Dawson, and Elizabeth Filippouli’s From Women to the World: Letters for a New Century, these writings demonstrate how we have the wisdom to inspire, motivate and reinvent our world.
Performers include Kate Winslet, Vanessa Redgrave, Juliet Stevenson, Helen Lunkuse, Suzette Llewellyn, Bishop Rose and Suzanne Packer, musician Skin and novelist Elif Shafak.
All hell has broken loose in Kate Marsden’s life. Her husband has died, she’s lost her job and now she’s pushed the last of her friends away. Then one day, she wakes up in the wrong body – and the wrong year. She’s 18 again and it’s her first day at university. Which means today’s the day she’ll meet Luke, her future husband, for the first time. If they can fall in love again, Kate might just be able to save him second time around. The debut novel from the actor, comedian and author.
Julian is off to a wedding and you’re invited, too. Enjoy a reading by the creator of Julian Is A Mermaid and Julian at the Wedding, then help Mama G get all glammed up and ready to be the most gorgeous wedding guest in town.
Join the brilliant author/illustrator of the Tom Gates series as she introduces her latest book with live drawing and plenty of jokes and tricks along the way. Pichon's books have been translated into 41 languages worldwide.
Joining from the island of Bryher in the Scillies, the setting for many of his books, the author talks to Julia Eccleshare about his new book, published to celebrate 80 years of Puffin Books and inspired by his father-in-law, Allen Lane, founder of Penguin. This is a magical story about how one stormy night changed a whole life. Julia Eccleshare is Children's Director at Hay Festival.
Spending quality time with the people we love around the dinner table brings us so much happiness. But when we’re busy, tired and have a million other things to do, it can be hard to motivate ourselves to get in the kitchen and cook wonderful food. But fitness coach Joe Wicks has done the hard work for you, with 100 simple, healthy, delicious recipes the whole family will love. He is joined by the Happy Pear twins whose latest book, Vegan Cooking for Everyone, distills 20 years of plant-based cooking experience into ten chapters.
Growing up in Marsden in West Yorkshire, the Poet Laureate always associated his early poetic experiences with the night-time view from his bedroom window – those 'private, moonstruck observations' and the clockwork comings and goings in the village providing rich subject matter for his first poems. Decades on, that window continues to operate as both framework and focal point for the writing, the vastness of the surrounding moors always at his shoulder forming a constant psychological backdrop. Magnetic Fieldbrings together his Marsden poems, from his very first pamphlet to new work from a forthcoming collection. It offers his perspective on a locality he describes as 'transcendent and transgressive', a unique region forming a frontier territory between many different worlds.
A Vertical Art gathers together the poet's spirited public lectures delivered during his four-year tenure as Oxford University Professor of Poetry. Armitage tries to identify a 'common sense' approach to an art form that can lend itself to grand statements and vacuous gestures, questioning both the facile and obscure ends of the poetry spectrum. He asserts fundamental qualities that separate the genre from prose and song lyrics, examining who poetry is written for and its value today.
In October 1726, newspapers reported that in the town of Godalming, Surrey, a woman called Mary Toft had started to give birth to rabbits. Several leading doctors, some sent directly by King George I, travelled to examine the woman who was then moved to London to be closer to them. By December, she had been accused of fraud and taken into custody. The case caused a media sensation, prompting public curiosity but also a vicious backlash. The author uses archival research to explore the motivations of the medics who examined her, the role of the women who remained close to Mary Toft, and the reasons the case attracted the attention of the King and his government.
Karen Harvey is Professor of Cultural History at University of Birmingham.
When Covid swept across the globe, the impact was arguably greater than the aftermath of 9/11 or the global financial crisis. But out of catastrophe can come a new way of thinking.Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown offers his solutions to the challenges we face in 2021 and beyond, outlining seven challenges: global health, climate change, nuclear proliferation, global financial instability, the humanitarian crisis and global poverty, the barriers to education and opportunity, and global inequality and global tax havens.None of these can be solved by one nation acting on its own, but all can be addressed if we work together as a global community.
Hugh Muir is Senior Assistant Editor at the Guardian
"I'm empowered, exhausted, devastated, and exhilarated in equal measure.” A young woman in Britain today describes her feelings about the protests following the murder of George Floyd. Her sisters and brothers across Britain and her borders, share the same emotions. How has each been jolted by racism and Empire?
Following a cast of 100 voices across Britain and gathering strength from the wider Pan African community, this book reveals both hopes and frustrations. Whether actress, poet, shopkeeper, MP, Dame or doctor, each voice starts a hopeful new conversation about racism in Britain. Each lived experience adds to a colourful tapestry of optimism so that future generations can pause, take stock and keep breathing. The book's contributors include David Lammy, Beverly Knight, Pat Younge, Dawn Butler, Bishop Rose, Shaun Bailey, Arthur Torrington, Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Jason Penny Cooke and Fiona Compston.
Suzette Llewellyn has acted in Fearless, Holby City and EastEnders.Suzanne Packer is known for her roles in Casualty, Death In Paradise and Doctor Who. She is the sister of athlete and Strictlystar, Colin Jackson.
In December 2019, at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, a radical suggestion was made by the Vanuatu ambassador (formerly New Hebrides) to the EU: make the destruction of the environment a crime. Ecocide literally means 'killing the environment' and proposal was that no one should go unpunished for destroying the natural world. By making Ecocide a crime, the perpetrators of environmental destruction would be liable to prosecution and imprisonment. But how to create a clear and legally robust definition, and build the support required across the globe? Join the discussion with David Lammy MP, UK Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and author of Tribes, Philippe Sands QC, Professor of Law and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London and author of The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive. Jojo Mehta is Co-Founder & Executive Director of Stop Ecocide International & Chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation.
When her father dies, Kay Wilkinson can’t cry. Over ten years, Alzheimer’s had steadily eroded this erudite man. But surely one’s own father passing should never come as such a relief?
Both healthy and vital medical professionals in their early fifties, Kay and her husband Cyril have seen too many of their elderly NHS patients in similar states of decay. Determined to die with dignity, Cyril makes a modest proposal: they should agree to commit suicide together once they’ve both turned 80. When their deal is sealed in 1991, the spouses are blithely looking forward to another three decades together. But then they turn eighty. By turns hilarious and touching, playful and grave, Should We Stay or Should We Goportrays 12 parallel universes, each one a possible future for Kay and Cyril, from a purgatorial retirement home to the discovery of a cure for ageing, from cryogenic preservation to the unexpected pleasures of dementia. The author talks to writer and broadcaster Georgina Godwin.
An exclusive live screening of a one-off film created by Ali Smith and Sarah Wood to celebrate the conclusion of her seasonal quartet. Summer is the story of people on the brink of change. In the present, Sacha knows the world's in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world's in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn't even started yet. In the past, they had a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they're living on borrowed time. They're family, but they think they're strangers. So, where does family begin? And what do people who think they've got nothing in common have in common? This special event includes contributions from film-maker Sarah Wood.