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 FiltersYou are viewing events filtered bySaturday 5 June 2021View All

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.

Event 119

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Gillian Clarke, introduced by Rufus Mufasa

The Anthea Bell Lecture: The Gododdin – Lament for the Fallen

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

Event 120

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Danny Dorling and Tim Jackson talk to Katherine Trebeck

Slowdown and Post-Growth

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

Event 121

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Suzanne Simard talks to Patrick Goymer

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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​'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.

Event 122

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Hollie McNish and Pandora Sykes talk to Anita Rani

Life choices – how do we muddle through?

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

Event 123

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin talk to Andy Fryers

Back To Nature: How to Love Life – and Save it

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

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

Event 124

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Gaia Vince, Jim Al-Khalili and Camilla Pang in conversation

The Royal Society Science Book Prize

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

Event 125

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Sjón talks to Rosie Goldsmith

Red Milk

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

Event 126

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

From Women to the World Gala

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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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.

This event will be pre-recorded but Hannah and Elizabeth will be live on the chat to answer questions during the event. It will be available to stream for 24 hours, and will be made available on Hay Player from 1 July.

Event 127

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Robert Webb talks to Georgina Godwin

10@10: New writers – Come Again

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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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.

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

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