Hay Festival teams up with Shakespeare & Company and Penguin Classics for a star-studded #ULYSSES100 read-along

To celebrate one hundred years since Sylvia Beach, publisher and bookseller, published James Joyce’s ULYSSES, the iconic bookshop Shakespeare and Company, Paris, is producing an ensemble recording of the complete text to be released as a free podcast between the 100th anniversary of the publication on 2 February 2022 and Bloomsday on 16 June 2022, and showcased at Hay Festival 2022.

The project was conceived by Shakespeare and Company Literary Director Adam Biles, and will include over one hundred writers, artists, comedians, and musicians from all over the world. The readers include Stephen Fry, Will Self, Jeanette Winterson, Olivia Laing, Ben Okri, Ishion Hutchinson, Paul Murray, Deborah Levy, Caoilinn Hughes, Eddie Izzard, Margaret Atwood, Meena Kandasamy and many more.

The readings will be accompanied by a 10-episode “Bloomcast”, an entertaining primer for listeners, hosted by Adam Biles, alongside Professor Lex Paulson, and Alice McCrum, Programs Manager at the American Library in Paris.

At Hay Festival 2022 (26 May-5 June), a series of live discussions and performances will mark the with the project and the celebration will culminate in a Bloomsday celebration at Shakespeare and Company, Paris, on 16 June.

To commemorate the centenary, Penguin Classics will publish a new, clothbound edition of ULYSSES with a bespoke cover design by Coralie Bickford-Smith, which has been chosen as the official text for the recording. Penguin Classics will be supporting the readings with a host of social media and marketing activity including an online reading guide to ULYSSES, Instagram Live discussions, giveaways and more.

Adam Biles, Literary Director of Shakespeare and Company, and the creator of this recording said: “In order to celebrate the centenary of this gargantuan, sprawling, polyphonic and wildly ambitious work of literature it felt only right to attempt something a little bit crazy ourselves. We hope that this diverse celebration of Ulysses, read by some of the most brilliant contemporary writers and performers, and made freely available to listeners around the world, will introduce James Joyce's modernist masterwork to a whole new generation."

Jessica Harrison, Publishing Director at Penguin Classics, said: “Ulysses was first printed by Shakespeare and Company in 1922, and Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books, published the first British hardback edition in 1936. Many decades later, we are delighted to join Shakespeare and Company in celebrating Joyce’s epic masterwork in its centenary year.”

Find out more about the project here and explore Hay Festival 2022 early-bird events now here.