Two of the most famous women in history, Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth I are rarely spoken about as mother and daughter. Tracy Borman, joint chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces and chief executive of the Heritage Education Trust, offers an illuminating insight into how their short-lived relationship – Elizabeth was just three when Anne was executed – had a long-term impact. Piecing together evidence from original documents and artefacts, Borman tells the story of Anne Boleyn’s relationship with, and influence over, her daughter Elizabeth and sheds new light on the two women.
Challenge your assumptions about the origins of everything from farming to democracy with archaeologist David Wengrow. The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, a collaboration between Wengrow and the late anthropologist David Graeber, brings together the latest scholarship and archaeological evidence to tell a new story about the last 30,000 years, from the egalitarian early cities in Mexico and Mesopotamia to part-time kings and queens in Ice Age Europe. Ambitious and wide-ranging, Wengrow and Graeber’s work overturns everything you know about human behaviour. Wengrow talks to Georgina Godwin, journalist and Books Editor for Monocle 24.
The author and broadcaster presents a powerful, career-spanning collection of his journalism on race, racism and Black life and death from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States. For three decades, Younge has had a ringside seat at the most significant events and personalities to impact the Black diaspora and recounts these in Dispatches From the Diaspora: accompanying Nelson Mandela on his first election campaign, joining revellers on the southside of Chicago during Obama’s victory and entering New Orleans days after hurricane Katrina. We see him with Maya Angelou in her limousine, discussing politics with Stormzy on his couch and witnessing Archbishop Desmond Tutu almost fall asleep mid-interview. He discusses how much change is possible and the power of systems to thwart those aspirations with author and educator Jeffrey Boakye.
Captivated by castles? Delighted by drawbridges? Then don’t miss Hay resident Mary Morgan and local historian Elizabeth Bingham’s talk on the violent histories of castles in and around Hay-on-Wye. The pair, who return to the Festival following last year’s popular talk on local churches, talk about Hay Castle and everything from partially ruined mottes and baileys to stone fortresses under constant threat from the Welsh, describing how some castles have adapted to a new phase in the 21st century.
It’s all too easy to think of Agatha Christie as a very proper Edwardian lady of leisure, until you discover she loved fast cars and went surfing in Hawaii, as well as of course writing some of the most enduring and best-loved British murder mysteries. Historian and television presenter Lucy Worsley, joint chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, presents a new side of Christie in Agatha Christie – A Very Elusive Woman, her account of the writer’s life, based on personal letters and papers that have rarely been seen. Join Worsley to discover the writer who, despite the obstacles of class and gender, became an astonishingly successful working woman.
In 1923, German democracy faced crisis and near destruction. In this remarkable year in modern European history, France and Belgium militarily occupied Germany’s economic heartland, the Ruhr, triggering a series of crises that almost spiralled out of control. Drawing on previously unseen sources, in 1923 Mark Jones weaves together a thrilling and resonant narrative of German lives in this turbulent time. Tracing Hitler’s rise, he shows how political pragmatism and international cooperation eventually steered the nation away from total insurrection, and illustrates how the warnings of 1923 – a rise of nationalist rhetoric, fragile European consensus, and underestimation of the enemies of liberalism – became only too apparent a decade later when Weimar democracy eventually succumbed to tyranny. Jones is assistant professor in history at University College Dublin. He talks to Georgina Godwin, journalist and Books Editor for Monocle 24.
Alice Winn’s debut novel is the story of a forbidden romance set against the backdrop of the First World War. In Memoriam tells the tale of Henry Gaunt, infatuated with his best friend Sidney Ellwood but unaware that Ellwood feels the same. Trying to escape his feelings by enlisting in the British Army, Gaunt is soon joined by Ellwood, and the pair find solace in fleeting moments, knowing that death could come for them as it has their friends and fellow soldiers. Winn, who lives in Brooklyn and writes screenplays, is in conversation with Costa Novel Award-winner Claire Fuller.
Roma Agrawal’s best known feat is London’s towering Shard, so it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about engineering. As a writer and broadcaster, she also knows how to explain complicated concepts clearly. Join her as she discusses the complex feats of engineering she deconstructs in Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World, and how they all rely on seven fundamental inventions: the nail, spring, wheel, lens, magnet, string and pump. Together, these inventions have enabled humans to construct stunning buildings, communicate across vast distances, and even explore other planets. You’ll leave marvelling at simplicity behind some of the most powerful and spectacular inventions of our time. Agrawal talks to Georgina Godwin, journalist and Books Editor for Monocle 24.
The River Tigris – the birthplace of civilisation – has been the lifeblood of ancient Mesopotamia and modern Iraq, but geopolitics and climate change have left it at risk of becoming uninhabitable. Writer, broadcaster and explorer Leon McCarron shares stories from his incredible, beautiful and occasionally dangerous journey by boat along the full length of the river, recounted in his book Wounded Tigris: A River Journey through the Cradle of Civilisation. Sometimes harassed by militias and relying on the generosity of a network of strangers to reach the Persian Gulf, McCarron explains why it’s crucial to save this extraordinary river, and what its survival, or destruction, could mean for us all.
McCarron talks to actor, author and broadcaster Tony Robinson.
Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952 when Britain still claimed an empire and kids played on bomb sites in the wake of the Second World War. Seventy years on, her reign has come to an end and the UK is a vastly changed place.
How did we get from there to here in a single reign? To cancel culture, anti-vaxxers and Twitter feeds? Author and journalist Matthew Engel, author of The Reign: Life in Elizabeth's Britain, Part I: The Way It Was, 1952–79 tells the story – starting with the years from Churchill to Thatcher – with his own light touch and a wealth of fascinating, forgotten and often funny detail.
In conversation with the journalist and Prospect Contributing Editor, Tom Clark.
The Covid-19 pandemic was a life-changing and terrifying event, with the world engulfed by panic and the search for a vaccine. But in Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations, historian Simon Schama shows how the world has survived similar pandemics before in this new history. Covering smallpox in London, cholera in Paris and plague in India, Schama takes us on a journey of terror, suffering and hope through the eyes of a cast of characters including doctors, patients, scientists and more, centering on Waldemar Haffkine, a gun-toting Jewish student in Odessa turned microbiologist at the Pasteur Institute. Join Schama for a thrilling and inspirational story of people winning in the toughest of times.
Imagine walking back in time through 500 million years. What would you see, smell, hear and feel in the worlds before ours? Palaeontologists Halliday and Brusatte, in conversation with science journalist Vince, take us through the story of life on earth, weaving together history and science. Halliday’s Otherlands: A World in the Making shows us the ecologies that survived and those that didn’t make it, and offers a new appreciation of the world that we are making now. Brusatte’s The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us looks at our mammal forebears and tells the stories of scientists whose fieldwork and discoveries underlie our knowledge.
MP Jesse Norman’s witty historical novel The Winding Stair is the story of the rivalry between scholar Francis Bacon and Edward Coke, already acclaimed as the greatest lawyer of his generation. As Queen Elizabeth I is dying and James I waiting to accede, Bacon and Coke are locked in a bitter struggle for influence and power in the palaces, parliaments and royal courts. Norman, the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire and currently Minister of State in the Department for Transport, discusses combining history and fiction to create a tale of political machinations.
Norman is in conversation with award-winning historian, author, and broadcaster Professor Suzannah Lipscomb.
Having spent a lifetime studying Europe, Timothy Garton Ash gives his account of a period of unprecedented progress on the continent, calling on citizens to understand and defend what we have collectively achieved in conversation. In conversation with writer and Institute of Human Science (Vienna) rector Misha Glenny, Garton Ash shares vivid experiences from his book Homelands, including his father's memories of D-Day, interviewing Polish dockers, Albanian guerrillas in the mountains of Kosovo, and angry teenagers in the poorest quarters of Paris, as well as advising prime ministers, chancellors and presidents.
Journalist Daniel Finkelstein’s family story is one of miraculous survival against the 20th century’s two genocidal dictators. His grandfather Alfred is now widely acknowledged to have been the first person to recognise the existential danger Hitler posed to the Jews, and with his family was sent to Bergen-Belsen, while his father’s family was sent to do hard labour in a Siberian gulag. In Hitler, Stalin, Mum & Dad, Finkelstein, who serves in the House of Lords, shares his family’s extraordinary, often painful and hellish history through concentration camps, the Gulag, secret archives and freezing wastelands, to eventual happiness and safety. He talks to Philippe Sands, author of East West Street and The Ratline.
Writers Tania Branigan and Xiaolu Guo speak to the Guardian and Observer’s senior international affairs correspondent Emma Graham-Harrison about their work, the past and present of China, and the Chinese cultural role in the world. Branigan is a journalist for the Guardian and author of Red Memory: Living, Remembering and Forgetting China’s Cultural Revolution, a book about the people who lived under Mao’s regime and how the Cultural Revolution affects China today. Guo was born in China and her most recent book is the memoir Radical, which she wrote after moving to New York for work, leaving her child and partner in London. The encounter with American culture and people threatened her sense of identity and threw her into a crisis, and Radical is a playful and deeply personal take on carving out a life of her own.
Did you know that the veins on a leaf can help you find water? In How to Read a Tree: Clues and Patterns from Roots to Leaves, you’ll discover the signs a tree can give you about its past and the landscape surrounding it. Through his journeys, teaching and writing, Tristan Gooley, author of The Walker’s Guide and How to Read Water, has pioneered a renaissance in the rare art of natural navigation. He has both flown solo and sailed single-handed across the Atlantic. He has explored close to home and walked with tribal peoples in some of the most remote regions on Earth.
Before Charles became King, he was Prince of Wales. Charles’ approach to the role has been to serve Wales and to promote Welsh life. But what impact has he had on the country, and what impression did the Welsh leave on him? Huw Thomas, Business Correspondent at BBC Wales and author of Charles: The King and Wales, discusses the role and the man. He is interviewed by Welsh broadcasting legend Roy Noble of Aberdare, OBE and former Vice Lord Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan.
Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series covered the lives, loves and deaths of Henry VIII’s wives; now, she turns her attention to the monarch himself in her newest book. The novel recounts Prince Harry’s life as a second son, and his ascendance to the throne when his older brother dies an untimely death. Weir discusses her most ambitious Tudor novel yet, which reveals the captivating story of a man who was by turns brilliant, romantic, and ruthless, and was undoubtedly a king who changed England forever.
Fleeing war, economic difficulties, the effects of climate change and more, contemporary refugees and migrants get a bad press in the UK, yet society commemorates historic refugees, celebrating their successes and their contributions to all aspects of life. Andrea Hammel explores comparisons between refugees and migrants who arrived at different times during the 20th and 21st century and looks at what we can learn from history about overcoming the challenges our society and the migrants and refugees face. Hammel is reader in the modern languages department and director of the Centre for the Movement of People at Aberystwyth University.