Premonitions are impossible. But they come true all the time. What if you knew that something terrible was going to happen? What if you could share your vision? Could these forebodings help the world to prevent disasters? In 1966 John Barker, a dynamic psychiatrist working in an outdated British mental hospital, established the Premonitions Bureau to investigate these questions. He would find a network of hundreds of correspondents, from bank clerks to ballet teachers. Among them were two unnervingly gifted ‘percipients’. Together, the pair predicted plane crashes, assassinations and international incidents with uncanny accuracy. And then, they informed Barker of their most disturbing premonition: that he was about to die.
Sam Knight’s The Premonitions Bureau is an enthralling true story, of madness and wonder, science and the supernatural — a journey into the oddest corners of ‘60s Britain and the most powerful and unsettling reaches of the human mind. He talks to LBC radio host Matt Stadlen.
Divide: The Relationship Crisis Between Town and Country is a powerful manifesto for bridging the political and cultural division between rural and urban communities to make positive lasting changes to heal the environment. Journalist and broadcaster Anna Jones warns that unless we learn to accept and respect our social, cultural and political differences as town and country people, we are never going to solve the chronic problems in our food system and environment. Anna Jones talks about the key to this – respecting our differences, recognising each other’s strengths and working together to heal the land – with writer and editor Kitty Corrigan.
Torrey Peters’ Womens Prize-longlisted debut novel is a uniquely trans take on love, exes and motherhood. Reese nearly had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York, a job she didn’t hate. She’d scraped together a life previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child.
Then everything fell apart and three years on Reese is still in self-destruct mode, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men. When her ex calls to ask if she wants to be a mother, Reese finds herself intrigued. After being attacked in the street, Amy detransitioned to become Ames, changed jobs and, thinking he was infertile, started an affair with his boss Katrina. Now Katrina’s pregnant. Could the three of them form an unconventional family – and raise the baby together? She talks to the author of This Lovely City, Louise Hare.
A tiny wild bird changed Hannah Bourne-Taylor’s life. Fledgling tells the story of how rescuing, hand raising and releasing first a swift, then a finch, while living a remote existence in rural Ghana, redefined her identity and helped her overcome isolation and anxiety. Sharing part of her life with a finch who accepted Hannah as his surrogate mother, the vast differences between humans and wild creatures shrunk so there were none. Through remarkable dedication, Hannah took on the challenge of reuniting the finch with his family flock in the wild, their bond allowing them to overcome many adversities. Swifts play a huge role in Fledgling too, these awe-inspiring birds inadvertently teaching her life lessons and helping her connect to the landscape.
Fledgling is a beguilingly honest and personal memoir about identity, belonging and coexistence but most of all it is a love story between Hannah and one very gregarious finch. Fledgling is Hannah’s debut nature memoir, a story that went viral across the world last month, being covered in international newspapers, television, radio including Radio 4’s Saturday Live. Unapologetically and infectiously enthusiastic, Hannah is a conservationist on a mission to engage everyone with birds for the sake of the wild, but also ourselves.
Join the audience for a recording of Sky Arts Big Weekend, a 90-minute TV programme featuring interviews and conversations with some of the biggest and best names at the Festival. The programmes will air across the weekend of 10–12 June on Sky Arts (Freeview Channel 11), Sky Arts HD and Now. Studio guests include Anthony Horowitz, Jeffrey Boakye, Laurie Penny, Alexis Caught and Cressida Cowell.
Jeffrey Boakye was often the only black boy in his class. And then, after training to become a teacher, he was often teaching the handful of black students, as the only black teacher in the school. In I Heard What You Said, Boakye recounts how that felt and how it feels. His report exposes the underlying habits, presumptions, silences and distortions that underpin the whole British educational system that black students, and teachers, experience. He offers sharp analysis, sharp patter and even sharper hopes for what might come, to writer and critic Chris Power.
Join Helena Merriman (Creator of Tunnel 29 and Room 5) for a special recording of BBC Radio 4’s new series all about our minds and bodies – and what happens when they behave in ways we don’t understand.
Helena’s guest is Abi Morgan - the BAFTA and Emmy-award winning playwright and screenwriter whose credits include The Iron Lady, Suffragette, Sex Traffic, The Hour, Brick Lane and Shame. Abi Morgan is also the creator and writer of BBC drama, The Split.
Abi will be talking about her book - This is Not A Pity Memoir. One June morning, Abi came home to find the man she loved lying on the bathroom floor. Rushed to hospital, he was put into a coma and it was clear that life as they knew it would never be the same again.
Mistakes happen. In most fields the consequences are limited, but in healthcare they can be fatal. Every week in England there are 150 avoidable deaths. Most tragedies could be prevented simply and cheaply if we were better at learning from mistakes. Instead, the system ‘goes after’ someone when something goes wrong, and the result is a blame game that stops learning and allows the same mistake to be repeated, often countless times.
Zero investigates how the NHS can reduce the number of avoidable deaths to zero, and in the process save money, reduce backlogs and improve working conditions. Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaks to NHS palliative care doctor, writer and former broadcast journalist Rachel Clarke about the imperative to deliver the safest, highest quality care in the NHS post-pandemic – our own 1948 moment.
Born and raised in Zanzibar, Abdulrazak Gurnah is a Professor Emeritus of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent. He is author of nine novels, including Paradise (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), By the Sea (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the LA Times Book Award) and Desertion.
In 2021 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his uncompromising work on the effects of colonialism between cultures and continents. He talks to journalist Max Liu about his work, in particular his recent book Afterlives, a compelling historical novel focused on those enduring German rule in East Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Something gleeful and malevolent is moving in Lia’s body. It’s learning her life from the inside. It shape-shifts down the banks of her canals, leaks through her tissue, nooks and nodes. It taps her trachea like the bones of a xylophone. It’s spreading. When Lia finds out that her cancer is back, she tries to keep the landscapes of her past, her present and her body separate; for the sake of Iris, her daughter, and for her husband, Harry, desperate to keep their lives flourishing. But bodies are porous, unpredictable places… As Lia’s condition worsens, the narrator inside her strengthens; the boundaries between her past, her present and her body begin to leak and spill.
Maddie Mortimer’s accomplished debut novel is a story of coming-of-age at the end of a life. Utterly heartbreaking yet darkly funny, it’s a symphonic journey through one woman’s body: a wild and lyrical celebration of desire, forgiveness and the darkness within us all. She talks to Sarah Moss, Women's Prize-shortlisted author of Ghost Wall and Summerwater.
1972 was a landmark year for the emerging women’s liberation movement. A time of great optimism and hope, it saw the birth of two great feminist institutions – Spare Rib and Virago Books. Both challenged the stereotyping and exploitation of women and played a key role in transforming the role of women in society. But fifty years on, how far have we come?
Join Carmen Callil, writer, publisher and founder of Virago, and Rosie Boycott, co-founder of Spare Rib, journalist and cross-bench peer to discuss this question with Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 100,000 testimonies of gender inequality, to discuss gender issues and where we stand on gender equality today.
Disinformation is one of the most pressing and urgent social and political challenges of our times. Almost every high-profile event or issue seems to act as a magnet for disinformation campaigns and influence operations, ranging from democratic elections to the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Director at Cardiff University Crime and Security Research Institute Martin Innes investigates how disinformation campaigns are organised and conducted. Informed by a large-scale international research programme exploring disinformation and its impacts across diverse settings and situations, he uses several key ‘real world’ examples to illuminate the key components of how digital disinformation campaigns are run, and what can be done to limit their harms.
Join the audience for a recording of Sky Arts Big Weekend, a 90-minute TV programme, featuring interviews and conversations with some of the biggest and best names at the Festival. The programmes will air across the weekend of 10–12 June on Sky Arts (Freeview Channel 11), Sky Arts HD and Now. Studio guests include Michael Morpurgo, Melvyn Bragg, Jen Cownie & Fiona Lensvelt, Yvette Fielding, Paul Farley and Tishani Doshi.
Yasmin Ghorami has a lot to be grateful for: a loving family, a fledgling career in medicine, and a charming, handsome fiancée, fellow doctor Joe Sangster. But as the wedding day draws closer and Yasmin’s parents get to know Joe’s firebrand feminist mother, both families must confront the unravelling of long-held secrets, lies and betrayals. As Yasmin dismantles her own assumptions about the people she holds most dear, she’s also forced to ask herself what she really wants in a relationship and what a ‘love marriage’ actually means.
Love Marriage is a story about who we are and how we love in today’s Britain – with all the complications and contradictions of life, desire, marriage and family. What starts as a captivating social comedy develops into a heartbreaking, gripping story of two cultures, two families and two people trying to understand one another.
In association with the British CouncilThis event will be available online
Louise O’Neill’s Idol interrogates our relationship with the world of online influencers, asking how well we can ever really know those whose carefully curated profiles we follow online. Emma Gannon’s (Dis)Connected is a toolkit for people overwhelmed by digital overload, offering help to avoid being engulfed by algorithms.
Louise O’Neill writes for YA and adult readers and is author of Only Ever Yours, Asking For It, Almost Love, The Surface Breaks and After the Silence (Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards). Emma Gannon is author of Ctrl Alt Delete: How I Grew Up Online and The Multi-Hyphen Method.
Winner of MasterChef in 2005, Thomasina Miers has led the love for Mexican cuisine in the UK with her award-winning street food restaurants Wahaca and a stream of bestselling cookbooks. In her new book Meat-free Mexican, she shows that real Mexican food, as one of the world’s most diverse cuisines, is perfect for anyone looking for inspiration in their vegetarian and vegan cooking.
Thomasina’s central philosophy is that three times a day we have a chance to influence climate change by how we buy food and what we eat. Wahaca was the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified carbon neutral, and she was awarded an OBE for her services to the food industry in 2019.
In Fix the System, Not the Women, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project and author of Men Who Hate Women Laura Bates debunks the myth that acts of violence towards women are merely ‘isolated incidents’, laying bare the patterns of systemic misogyny that is so deeply ingrained in our society.
In Sexual Revolution: Modern Fascism and the Feminist Fightback, Laurie Penny tells the story of how modern masculinity is killing the world, and how feminism can save it. It’s a story about sex and power and trauma and resistance and persistence.
Together they discuss misogyny, power and envision the possibilities of our moment.
Money… we’re not educated about it at school and we don’t like to talk about it at home. The money world likes to keep its own secrets. Yet it’s more important than ever that we understand it. Linda Davies knows that world inside out. She takes us on an inspiring, non-conformist tour aided by some live drawing on screen by artist Nick Bashall.
Linda Davies is an ex-investment banker, now a consultant, writer, speaker and investor. She shows us how we can improve our financial, physical and mental health, and lead more sustainable lives, fighting back against the consumerist, debt-fuelled political-economic models that hold sway globally. Renowned portrait painter and ex-corporate lawyer Nick Bashall has created a series of satirical cartoons inspired by Daumier and Hogarth, which capture the essence, idiocies and excesses of the financial world.
Violence – particularly against women, and often sexual – has become exponentially more visible across the world. The renowned feminist thinker and the Professor of Social and Political Theory agitate for new frameworks to achieve sexual justice.
Jacqueline Rose’s On Violence and On Violence Against Women is a blazingly insightful, provocative study of violence against women, tracking multiple forms of today’s violence – ranging through trans rights and #MeToo; the suffragette movement and the sexual harassment faced by migrant women; and the sharp increase in domestic violence over the course of the pandemic.
Amia Srinivasan’s The Right to Sex rethinks sex as a political phenomenon. Since #MeToo many have fixed on consent as the key framework for achieving sexual justice. Yet consent is a blunt tool. To grasp sex in all its complexity we need to interrogate the fraught relationships between discrimination and preference, pornography and freedom, rape and racial injustice, punishment and accountability, pleasure and power, capitalism and liberation.
A special event in partnership with Untold’s Write Afghanistan project to launch My Pen Is The Wing Of A Bird: New Fiction by Afghan Women, the first anthology of short fiction in translation by Afghan women. Contributor Masouma Kawsari joins translator Zarghuna Kargar and Untold Narratives’ Founder and Director Lucy Hannah to discuss and perform extracts of these powerful, profound and deeply moving new pieces.
“These stories will expand your mind and elevate your heart” – Elif Shafak.