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 In 1966 John Barker, a dynamic psychiatrist working in an outdated British mental hospital, established the Premonitions Bureau to investigate these questions.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.
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.
Are universities losing the culture war? From the doctors and nurses in our hospitals to the teachers in our schools and the scientists developing vaccines, universities train the professionals who form the backbone of our society. So why, in recent times, have universities fallen out of favour with Government ministers and the media? What can the sector do to prove its worth and help the nation in the recovery from the pandemic and beyond?
Diana Beech is CEO of London Higher, Richard Brabner is Director of UPP Foundation, Jane Britton is Director of Communications and External Affairs at the University of Worcester and David Green is their Vice Chancellor.
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.
Dame Jacqueline Wilson is the highly acclaimed and adored author of so many stories for young people including The Story of Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather. She is praised for her engaging, warm, funny and insightful take on subjects from adoption to divorce and children in care. She will be in lively conversation with John Wilson about the most formative influences on her writing life for a special edition of BBC Radio 4’s This Cultural Life.
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.
Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and acclaimed author of Negroland Margo Jefferson shatters herself into pieces to examine each influence, love and passion that has thrilled and troubled her and made up her sense of self as a person and as a writer – her family, jazz luminaries, dancers, writers, lovers, artists, athletes and stars.
Jefferson interrogates race, class, family, art and identity as well as the act of writing memoir, and probes fissures at the centre of American cultural life. Bing Crosby and Ike Turner are among the author’s alter egos. The sounds of a jazz LP emerge as the intimate and instructive sounds of a parent’s voice. WEB Du Bois and George Eliot meet illicitly. The muscles and movements of a ballerina are spliced with those of an Olympic runner, becoming a template for what a black female body can be.
She talks to journalist Max Liu.
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.
Fi Glover and Jane Garvey bring the hit Radio 4 podcast Fortunately… with Fi and Jane back to Hay for a live show. Expect more award-winning, chart-topping, patriarchy-busting ‘inane drivel’, as it’s lovingly called by listeners. Fi and Jane are two of the best broadcasters around and they’re ready with wise insights on life, womanhood, parenting, favourite hobs, drain unclogging and more. Join them as they create a place of audio safety right here in the Marquee.
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 Council
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.
BBC Radio 4’s Fi Glover and Jane Garvey don’t claim to have all the answers (what was the question?), but they take modern life by its elasticated waist and give it a brisk going-over with a stiff brush. They riff together on the chuff of life, from pet deaths to the importance of hair dye, the perils and pleasures of judging other women, and the perplexing over-confidence of chino-wearing, middle-aged white men named Roger.
They go over some essential life skills (never buy an acrylic jumper, always decline the offer of a limoncello), pondering orgasm merchandise and suggesting the possibility that Christmas is an hereditary disease, passed down the maternal line.
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 Masoma Kawsary 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.
The friends and entirely non-psychic tarot readers introduce broadcasting legend Jane Garvey to the tarot and how to use it. They talk us through the meanings of each card, drawing on personal experiences as well as references to history, literature and popular culture that have shaped their understanding of the deck, encouraging you to bring your own imagination and instincts to your readings.
They invite anyone and everyone who’s curious about the tarot to give it a try and discover its magic: a playful, illuminating tool for sparking conversations and embarking on journeys of self-knowledge.
In an information age where disinformation and silo-thinking are ever-present, the role of libraries as hubs for knowledge, reflection and community are more essential than ever. In this conversation Britain’s best-loved children’s book writer Michael Morpurgo, renowned author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and Polly Russell, Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, reflect on the value of libraries and the continuing role these transformational spaces play within our societies.
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. Guests include Monica Ali, Sadia Azmat, Lemn Sissay, Devi Sridhar and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.
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.
The exhibition is the result of a partnership between the National Portrait Gallery and Hay Castle with the support and collaboration of Hay Festival.
After Hours: Director’s Tour of Portraits of Writers is available 5pm–5.45pm on Saturday 28 May, Sunday 29 May, Saturday 3 June and Sunday 4 June.