Foraging is one of the fastest-growing nature-related pastimes in the UK and US. Profiling 40 incredible trees from apple to yew in The Tree Forager, Adele Nozedar takes us on a foraging journey through their beauty, wildlife, folklore and medicinal uses. Tracing the fascinating story of the intimate relationship between humankind and our trees, we also celebrate the 10th anniversary of Adele’s first foraging book, The Hedgerow Handbook, launched at Hay Festival in 2012. Adele is joined by botanical illustrator Lizzie Harper who has brought both books to life with vivid watercolour, pen and ink. They talk to Hay Festival’s Sustainability Director.
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 In 1966 John Barker, a dynamic psychiatrist working in an outdated British mental hospital, established the Premonitions Bureau to investigate these questions.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.
For millennia the rose has played a significant role in religion, the legal system, politics and all the arts from Europe right across to the Far East. It is a symbol of love and beauty, an important ingredient in the culinary and cosmetic worlds, and a medicine to cure both physical and psychological ailments. In the garden too it plays a crucial role and, with its long flowering period, beautiful blooms and wonderful fragrance, is one of the most garden-worthy and versatile of all plants.
Explore the central role roses play both in our everyday lives and in our gardens with leading rosarian Michael Marriott.
Peter Finch is one of Britain’s leading poets. His blending of the avant-garde, concrete, visual, sound, performance and more conventional forms has placed him at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. He probes tradition and experiment with author and presenter Jon Gower in this event celebrating his remarkable career.
Photographers John Bulmer and Billie Charity talk about their photo books, shot in the Marches. John’s A Very English Village was shot 50 years ago in Pembridge and Billie’s Lockdown Light captured lockdown in and around Hay. They discuss the changes five decades have wrought both in the subjects and the process of taking photographs and publishing them in book form.
Elizabeth and Mary take us through a new booklet on many of the smaller churches and chapels local to Hay-on-Wye. In its foreword Simon Jenkins describes them as ‘among the loveliest in Britain’. They house superb rood screens, magnificent fonts, a water-powered organ, a rare monolithic stone preaching cross and the only parish Dead House in Wales.
Sixteen hundred years ago Britain left the Roman Empire and swiftly fell into ruin. Into this violent and unstable world came foreign invaders from across the sea, and established themselves as its new masters. In his sweeping and original history, renowned historian Marc Morris separates the truth from the legend and tells the extraordinary story of how the foundations of England were laid.
Melvyn Bragg revisits and reflects on his life from childhood to adulthood in the Cumbrian market town of Wigton, from the early years alone with his mother while his father fought in the war to the moment he left the town. It’s the tale of a working-class boy who grew up in a pub and expected to leave school at 15; who happily roamed the streets and raided orchards with his friends yet had a chronic breakdown when he was 13, forcing him to find new survival strategies; who was deeply embedded in a close-knit community, and experiencing the joys of first love, yet also found himself drawn to a mentor keen to steer him towards the challenge of an Oxford scholarship.
It’s equally the tale of the place that formed him and a compelling and poignant recreation of a vanished era: an elegy for a community-spirited northern town with its factories and churches and chapels steeped in the old ways, but on the cusp of rapid post-war change; and a celebration of the glorious Lakeland landscapes which inspired Bragg from an early age. This love letter to his home town and the people who shaped him is imbued with all the luminous wonder of those indelible early memories which nurtured his future life as a writer, broadcaster, and champion of the arts.
Global conservation efforts are failing to halt the current rate of extinction. As wildlife declines, conservation needs to make trade-offs, but what should we conserve and why? What do we want the ‘natural world’ to look like? And how close are we to forgetting what we’re about to lose?
In Tickets for the Ark ecologist Rebecca Nesbit questions our preferences for some species over others, and challenges our assumptions that native is always better than invasive, and ‘wild’ is always superior to human-altered. She gives ethics a central role in considering nature.
Millennial science communicator Sophie Pavelle’s Forget Me Not: Finding the Forgotten Species of Climate-change Britain is a clarion call, following rare native species on the front lines of the climate and biodiversity crises. They discuss the environmental crisis and the urgent, passionate attention needed from us all. In conversation with Pete Myers, Environmental Investor and Campaigner.
The author of the bestselling, Booker Prize-shortlisted phenomenon We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves discusses her brilliant new historical novel, Booth. In 1822, the Booth family move into a secret cabin near Baltimore to farm; to hide. Junius – breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor and master of the house in all ways – is at once a mesmerising talent and a man of terrifying instability.
The Booths cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families, but behind the curtains multiple scandals, family triumphs and disasters begin to take their toll. But it is Johnny who makes the terrible decision that will change the course of history – the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
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.
The ancient Spartans were a society of citizen-soldiers, famous throughout history for their doomed stand at the Battle of Thermopylae. Andrew Bayliss looks beyond the popular image of muscle-bound soldiers with long hair and red cloaks and explores the mindset of Spartan citizens, in particular their emotions such as anger, fear and shame. He examines the Spartans’ often brutal exploitation of their helot slaves, on whom their warrior lifestyle depended. Senior Lecturer in Greek History at the University of Birmingham, he is author of The Spartans: A Very Short Introduction.
The food writer and passionate forager (author of The Tree Forager) joins guides from Brecon Beacons National Park to lead a gentle walk through the beautiful surrounds of Hay-on-Wye. The Park’s lead tree warden introduces wayfarers to some of the area’s oldest and most interesting trees.
Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer Wade Davis talks about his latest work Magdalena, the River of Dreams, about the Magdalena River in Colombia. His memoir braids together history and journalism, adventure through a spectacular landscape and a kaleidoscopic picture of Colombia’s complex past, present and future.
The Jan Morris Lecture is a space to celebrate the legacy of this great voyager, historian and journalist, and to listen to fascinating stories about the most significant landscapes around the world, through the work of great travel writers.
In Ask a Historian: 50 Surprising Answers to Things You Always Wanted to Know, author, BBC podcaster and public historian Greg Jenner provides answers to things you always wondered about, but didn’t know who to ask.
Why is Italy called Italy? How old is curry? Which people from history would best pull off a casino heist? Who was the richest person of all time? When was the first Monday? What were history’s weirdest medical procedures that actually worked? How much horse manure was splattered on the streets of Tudor London?
Responding to 50 genuine questions from the public, Greg leads an entertaining tour through the ages, revealing the best and most surprising stories, facts and historical characters from the past. Bouncing through a wide range of subjects – from ancient jokebooks, African empires and bizarre tales of medicinal cannibalism to the invention of meringues, mirrors and menstrual pads – he spans from the Stone Age to the Swinging Sixties, and offers up a deliciously amusing and informative smorgasbord of historical curiosities, to be devoured one morsel at a time.
Between 1917 and 1921 a devastating struggle took place in Russia following the collapse of the Tsarist empire. Many regard this savage civil war as the most influential event of the modern era. An incompatible White alliance of moderate socialists and reactionary monarchists stood little chance against Trotsky’s Red Army and Lenin’s Communist dictatorship. The struggle became a world war by proxy as Churchill deployed weaponry and troops from the British empire, while armed forces from the United States, France, Italy, Japan, Poland and Czechoslovakia played rival parts.
The author of Stalingrad gives an action-packed account of the Russian Revolution, filled with historical detail from the streets of Petrograd, the brutal battlefield and the offices of Churchill, Lenin and Trotsky. He assembles the complete picture, conveying the conflict through the eyes of everyone from the worker on the streets of Petrograd to the cavalry officer on the battlefield and the woman doctor in an improvised hospital.
Visit Hay Castle’s inaugural exhibition, Portraits of Writers, where Tom True, director of Hay Castle, will give a ten-minute introduction to the exhibition followed by a question and answer session in the gallery.
Portraits of Writers is the exciting inaugural exhibition at Hay Castle, newly opened to the public after a major restoration project. The display, selected from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery by guest curator, author and journalist Dylan Jones OBE, brings together a range of portraits of celebrated British individuals who identify as writers. The golden thread is the theme of identity, both individual and collective. The exhibition presents a range of methods and approaches used by artists to capture the complex identities of writers, including gender identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity, national and regional identity, migration and colonisation. Writers depicted include RIz Ahmed, Simon Armitage, Salman Rushdie and Bernardine Evaristo.
Debut novel Trespasses, set in 1970s Belfast, is an intimate portrait of those caught between the warring realms of the personal and political, rooted in a turbulent and brutal moment of history.
Cushla Lavery lives with her mother in a small town near Belfast, and works as a teacher. The daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploding, another man shot, killed, beaten or left for dead. Then she meets Michael Agnew, an older (and married) barrister who draws her into his sophisticated group of friends. As her affair with Michael intensifies, political tensions in the town escalate, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.
You’re Dead To Me, the award-winning, chart-topping BBC podcast that takes history seriously, hosted by Public Historian Greg Jenner, comes to Hay Festival for the first time. Join Greg, academic, writer and broadcaster Dr Corin Throsby and special guest comic Stu Goldsmith as they record a live episode on the History of Fandom. Expect discussions of Byron’s fan mail, the famous theatre stars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the historical roots of our modern celebrity and fan culture.
May contain adult language, not suitable for children