Event 9

Ed Vere

How to Be a Lion

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Join Ed Vere on the vast plains of Africa (or live from his studio) for a winter story-telling event. Ed will be telling us about his life as a writer and illustrator and reading his book How to be a Lion. Then, get ready to be creative as Ed shows you some ways to make your own lion.

3+ years
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Event 10

Nick Sharratt

Ketchup on Your Reindeer

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Following on from the gleeful silliness of Ketchup On Your Cornflakes?, Nick Sharratt’s new flap book is full of festive fun. Join him for a deliciously daft event where he’ll be sharing his books, doing lots of drawing and asking important questions like, ‘Do you like tinsel on your toes, holly on your Santa, or dog biscuits on your Christmas tree?’

1+ years
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Event 11

Jon Roosenbeek, Stefanie Ullmann and Nina Schick

Covid-19, Digital Democracy and Fake News

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The pandemic has stretched resources and exposed system strengths and weaknesses in many areas of society. Our panel looks at one major area – data and the internet – and examines how important it has been in tracking and tracing, providing information and managing the response to Covid-19. But the flip side of this is the use of those very same systems to spread false information, conspiracy theories and fake news. How do we enable digital democracy and free speech while preventing the malicious spread and impact of lies and falsehoods?

Dr Jon Roozenbeek, Google Jigsaw Postdoctoral Fellow, Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab; Stefanie Ullmann is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the project Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology.

In conversation with Nina Schick, author and broadcaster, specialising in how technology and artificial intelligence are reshaping society.

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Event 12

Joanne Harris talks to Paul Blezard

Orfeia and Ten Things About Writing

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

When you can find me an acre of land,

Every sage grows merry in time,

Between the ocean and the sand

Then will you be united again.

So begins Harris’ stunning new novella Orfeia, a gender-flipped retelling of the Orpheus Myth, beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins. This is a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even in the underworld itself. Not content with releasing her new novella, Joanna Harris has also newly published a guide on how to write. Using the Twitter hashtag #tentweets, she shares bitesize chunks of practical advice and guidance on writing and finding readers. Based on these popular tweets, Ten Things is a collection of wisdom on creating and publishing your own books. The author’s clear and encouraging style provides genuine insight and practical help that will be invaluable to any would-be writer. Paul Blezard is a literary editor, broadcaster and commentator.

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Event 13

Helen Macdonald and James Rebanks talk to Andy Fryers

Landscapes, Legacies and Relationships

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Vesper Flights brings together a collection of the H is for Hawk author Helen Macdonald’s best-loved writing, along with new pieces covering a thrilling range of subjects. There are essays here on headaches, catching swans, hunting mushrooms, 20th-century spies, numinous experiences and high-rise buildings; on nests and wild pigs and the tribulations of farming ostriches.

It’s a book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make the world around us. Moving and frank, personal and political, it confirms Helen Macdonald as one of our greatest nature writers.

As a boy, James Rebanks's grandfather taught him to work the land the old way. Their family farm in the Lake District hills was part of an ancient landscape: a patchwork of crops and meadows, of pastures grazed with livestock, and hedgerows teeming with wildlife. And yet, by the time James inherited the farm, it was barely recognisable. The men and women had vanished from the fields; the old stone barns had crumbled; the skies had emptied of birds and their wind-blown song. English Pastoral is the story of an inheritance. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world have been brought close to collapse, and the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things are being lost. And yet this elegy from the Lake District fells is also a song of hope: how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future.

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Event 14

Douglas Stuart

Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain has been named as the winner of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction. Based on Stuart's own childhood, Shuggie Bain tells the story of a young boy growing up in 1980s Glasgow with a mother who is battling addiction. Stuart, a former fashion designer who started writing in his spare time a decade ago, dedicated the book to his own mother, who died of alcoholism when he was 16.
Douglas Stuart is in conversation with the writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes.

The Booker Prize is open to fiction writers of any nationality writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland. The shortlist of six was selected from 162 submitted books and included:

  • Diane Cook The New Wilderness,
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga This Mournable Body,
  • Avni Doshi Burnt Sugar,
  • Maaza Mengiste The Shadow King,
  • Douglas Stuart Shuggie Bain,
  • Brandon Taylor Real Life.

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Event 15

Noreena Hertz talks to Hugh Muir

The Lonely Century: Coming Together in a World That's Pulling Apart

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day

Almost half of those who work in offices don’t have a single friend at their job.

Even before a global pandemic introduced us to terms such as social distancing, loneliness was well on its way to becoming the defining condition of the 21st century. Combining a decade of research with first-hand reporting, Noreena Hertz takes us from ‘renting a friend’ in New York to Belgian far-right festivals replete with face-painting and bouncy castles, from elderly women knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan to isolated remote workers in London during lockdown. Offering bold solutions ranging from compassionate AI to innovative models for urban living, to new ways of reinvigorating our neighbourhoods, The Lonely Century offers a hopeful and empowering vision for how to heal our fractured communities and restore connection in our lives.

Described as ‘one of the world’s most inspiring women’ by Vogue Magazine and ‘one of the world’s leading thinkers’ by the Observer, Noreena Hertz is a renowned thought leader, academic and broadcaster. Her books, The Silent Takeover, I.O.U. and Eyes Wide Open, are published in more than 20 countries.

Hugh Muir is a Senior Assistant Editor at the Guardian. He also writes columns on politics, race, social policy and policing.

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Event 16

Bryony Gordon talks to Poorna Bell

Glorious Rock Bottom

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Bryony Gordon is a respected journalist, author and mental health campaigner. She is also an alcoholic. In Glorious Rock Bottom, she opens up about her toxic 20-year relationship with alcohol and drugs and explains exactly why hitting rock bottom – for her, a traumatic event and the abrupt realisation that she was repeatedly putting herself in danger – saved her life. Known for her honesty, Bryony bravely re-lives the darkest and most terrifying moments of her addiction, taking us on a rollercoaster ride through rehab, AA, painful self-reflection and life-changing friendship to self-acceptance, hope, and a joy and pride in staying sober that her younger self could never have imagined. Bryony’s new book No Such Thing As Normal will be published in January by Headline.

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Event 17

Kate Summerscale

Dark tales for a Winter Weekend 2 – The Haunting of Alma Fielding

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A true story of a 1930s ghost hunt and the woman who confounded the world. Kate Summerscale came across the case of Alma Fielding’s haunting in a rare, out-of-print book by Nandor Fodor – a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter. In search of more information she found his ‘diary’ of the investigation, a minutely detailed document hundreds of pages long, describing Alma’s seances, her haunted furniture, and her unexplained injuries. Over three years of research, she tracked down the descendants of the main characters in the story who surprised her with vital information missing from the archives. It was upon reading the newspapers of the time that Summerscale came to realise that Alma’s poltergeist was one of hundreds of contemporary ghosts.

With Hitler and Mussolini threatening their neighbours in Europe, Britain had become gripped by a darker type of haunting: one of trauma, alienation, loss, and the foreshadowing of a nation’s worst fears. The Haunting of Alma Fielding is one such story. Kate Summerscale reads an extract from her Baillie Gifford-nominated book.

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