Event 36

Welcome to Hay

Behind the Scenes at Hay Castle

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
We know most of you can't visit at the moment so here's a little taster of Hay at this time last year and as it is today. We will also join TV presenter and archaeologist Jules Hudson (Escape to the Country, Countryfile) as he tours the restoration work at Hay Castle with site historian Mari Fforde. This is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the incredible transformation of this historic building which over the centuries has been a fortress, a family home, and world-famous bookshop. Hay Castle will reopen to the public in 2021, and Jules and Mari will show you some of the surprises you can look forward to.

Event 1

Antony Gormley and Martin Gayford

Shaping the World: Sculpture from Pre-History to Now

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Sculpture is the universal art. It has been practised by every culture throughout the world and stretches back into the distant past. The first surviving shaped stones may even predate the advent of language. The drive to form stone, clay, wood and metal into shapes runs deep in our psyche and biology. This links the question ‘What is sculpture?’ to the question ‘What is humanity?’

In this wide-ranging book, two complementary voices – one belonging to an artist who looks to Asian and Buddhist traditions as much as to Western sculptural history (Antony Gormley), the other to a critic and historian (Martin Gayford) – consider how sculpture has been central to the evolution of our potential for thinking and feeling.

Event 2

Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris talk to Nicola Davies

The Lost Spells

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

This magical new book from the creators of the literary phenomenon and Hay Festival Book of the Year 2017, The Lost Words, introduces a beautiful new set of natural spell-poems and artwork by the creative duo Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. As in The Lost Words, these ‘spells’ take their subjects from relatively commonplace but under-appreciated, animals, birds, trees and flowers – from Barn Owl to Red Fox, Grey Seal to Silver Birch, Jay to Jackdaw. But they find new shapes, new spaces and new voices with which to conjure. Dazzingly inventive, they are written to be read aloud, painted in brushstrokes that call to the forest, field, riverbank and to the heart. The Lost Spells summons back what is often lost from sight and care, and inspires protection and action on behalf of the natural world. Above all, it celebrates a sense of wonder, bearing witness to nature's power to amaze, console and bring joy. Featuring the Silver Birch Spell, a beautiful new video that will premiere at Hay.

Event 3

Pen Vogler talks to Dan Saladino

Scoff – A History of Food and Class in Britain

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Avocado or beans on toast? Gin or claret? Nut roast or game pie? Milk in first or milk in last? And do you have tea, dinner or supper in the evening? In this fascinating social history of food in Britain, Pen Vogler examines the origins of our eating habits and reveals how they are loaded with centuries of class prejudice. Covering such topics as fish and chips, roast beef, avocados, tripe, fish knives and the surprising origins of breakfast, Scoff reveals how in Britain we have become experts at using eating habits to make judgements about social background.

Bringing together evidence from cookbooks, literature, artworks and social records from 1066 to the present, Vogler traces the changing fortunes of the food we encounter today, and unpicks the aspirations and prejudices of the people who have shaped our cuisine for better or worse.

Pen Vogler is the author of Dinner with Mr Darcy, Tea with Jane Austen, Dinner with Dickens and Christmas with Dickens. She writes and reviews on food history for the press, edited Penguin's Great Food series and has recreated recipes from the past for BBC Television.

Dan Saladino is an author and broadcaster and has been one of the key presenters on BBC’s The Food Programme since 2006.

Event 4

Irenosen Okojie and Carys Bray talk to Rosie Goldsmith

Nudibranch/When the Lights Go Out

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Nudibranch is a dark and seductive foray into the surreal by Irenosen Okojie, the winner of the AKO Cain Prize for African Writing. In this collection of short stories, offbeat characters are caught up in extraordinary situations that test the boundaries of reality. A love-hungry goddess of the sea arrives on an island inhabited by eunuchs. A girl from Martinique moonlights as a Grace Jones impersonator. And a homeless man goes right back to the very beginning, through a gap in time.

Carys Bray is a Costa short-listed author of When the Lights go Out, which brilliantly explores a marriage in crisis. The book centres on the relationship between Emma, preparing for Christmas, and her husband Chris, preparing for the end of the world. In his mind, desperate times call for desperate measures. He has turned off the heating, has filled the garage with rice and beans and wants the family to practise suturing on the pig’s trotters he’s put in the freezer. He has other plans that, if voiced, Emma would surely veto. But what if, while preparing for disaster, he unwittingly precipitates it?

Event 7

Elizabeth Day talks to Dolly Alderton

Failosophy - A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
In Failosophy, Elizabeth Day, author of How to Fail, and creator of the award-winning podcast How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, brings together all the lessons she has learned from her own life, from conversations with her podcast guests, and from meeting readers and listeners who have shared their stories with her.


Building on the words of wisdom from the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Lemn Sissay, Nigel Slater, Emeli Sande, Meera Syal, Dame Kelly Holmes, Andrew Scott and many, many more – Elizabeth has distilled her findings into seven key principles of failure:


1. Failure just is

2. You are not your worst thoughts.

3. Almost everyone feels they’ve failed at their 20s.

4. Break-ups are not a tragedy

5. Failure is data acquisition

6. There is no such thing as a future you

7. Being open about your vulnerabilities is the ultimate act of strength

Practical, inspirational and with carefully selected quotes from the podcast guests, who have insights into everything from failed exams, romantic break-ups and how to cope with severe anxiety, Failosophy is the essential guide for turning our failures into our successes, and the equivalent of having a chat with a good friend who wants to make you feel better.
‘A beautiful timely and humane book. If there's one philosophy the world needs more of right now, it's Failosophy’ ALAIN DE BOTTON

Event 6

Lee Child talks to Heather Martin

The Reacher Guy

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Lee Child, otherwise known as James Dover Grant CBE and a judge for the 2020 Booker Prize, is the author of 24 Jack Reacher books, which have sold more than 100 million copies in 40 languages worldwide. In conversation with his biographer Heather Martin, he talks about his extraordinary tale of self-reinvention, the concept of the hero, and how Reacher was already part of his life long before he ever dreamed of becoming a writer.

Event 5

Jonathan Freedland, David Olusoga and Katya Adler

2020 Vision: a year of change

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Covid, BLM, Brexit, climate breakdown and the US elections... 2020 has been a year of local and global upheaval and we've still another month to go. Our panel of journalists and commentators take us through the highs and lows and share their thoughts about what the next 12 months might bring.

Chaired by Guto Harri.

Event 8

John Lanchester

Dark Tales for a Winter Weekend 1 – Reality, and Other Stories

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

John Lanchester’s first book of shorter fictions, Reality, and Other Stories is a gathering of deliciously chilling entertainments, to be read as the evenings darken and the days are haunted by all the ghastly schlock, uncanny technologies and absurd horrors of modern life. These are very modern ghost stories from the Booker-nominated author of The Wall. John Lanchester reads an extract from these contemporary, biting satires.