Hay Festival 2020

Sam Hardwick

Hay Festival runs 18–31 May 2020 and features free live broadcasts and interactive events from more than 100 award-winning writers, global policy makers, historians, pioneers and innovators, celebrating the best new fiction and non-fiction, and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time. 

Key events:

Diana Beresford-Kroeger - 31 May

Sunday 31 May 2020, 4pm – 4.45pm BST
Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The renowned Canadian botanist, biochemist and visionary has underpinned a quiet revolution in the way that we see trees. Her research includes the discovery of mother trees at the heart of a forest; the fact that trees are a living library, have a chemical language and communicate in a quantum world; the major idea that trees heal living creatures through the aerosols they release and that they carry a great wealth of natural antibiotics and other healing substances; and, perhaps most significantly, that planting trees can actively regulate the atmosphere and the oceans, and even stabilize our climate. In this talk she tells the story of how she came to uncover these startling insights of tree function and behaviour and explains why healthy intact forests are essential to the survival of humans on planet earth.

Michael Wood - 27 May

Wednesday 27 May 2020, 5.30pm – 6.15pm BST
Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

China’s history is one of the richest and most thrilling narratives in  the world.  At a time when anti-Chinese feeling is rising across the globe, even in the UK, it is all the more important to see China from its own point of view- a big theme of this year’s  “Imagine the World” Hay Festival. In this talk Michael Wood previews his forthcoming book, The Story of China: A Portrait  of a Civilisation and its People: a riveting grand sweep narrative which is the  product of four decades of travel and  filming in China. Packed with big ideas, landscape and travel, and peoples' stories, it  depicts Chinese history from  multiple viewpoints, from clan histories  and oral reminiscences, poetry and letters, village diaries, personal memoirs and imperial memoranda, along with the latest archaeological finds, telling a story of intense drama,  fabulous creativity, and deep humanity. 

Film maker broadcaster and historian,  Michael is the  author  of many  highly praised books including the Sunday Times Number One bestsellers In Search of the Trojan War, Domesday and In the Footsteps of Alexander the  Great. He has also made some 120 documentary films, which have been seen around the world, among them The Story of India (’the gold standard of documentary history making” - Wall Street Journal) and The Story of England  ( ‘the most innovative history series ever made for TV' -Independent).  Michael is Professor of Public History at Manchester University.

Ali Smith - 25 May

Monday 25 May 2020, 6.30pm BST
Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A meditation on continuance, by Ali Smith, filmwork by Sarah Wood.

Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962. She is the author of Spring, Winter, Autumn, Public library and other stories, How to be both, Shire, Artful, There but for the, The first person and other stories, Girl Meets Boy, The Accidental, The whole story and other stories, Hotel World, Other stories and other stories, Like and Free Love. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. How to be both won the Bailey's Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Autumn was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017 and Winter was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2018.

Sarah Wood works with the found object, particularly the still and moving image, as an act of reclamation and re-interrogation. She works mainly with the documentary image to interrogate the relationship between the narrating of history and individual memory. 

Maggie O'Farrell talks to Peter Florence - 23 May

Saturday 23 May 2020, 1pm – 1.45pm BST
Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; a flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker's son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of the memoir I Am, I Am, I Am, and eight novels: After You'd Gone, My Lover's Lover, The Distance Between Us, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox, The Hand That First Held Mine, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, Instructions For A Heatwave, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, This Must Be The Place, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award, and Hamnet.

Wordworth 250: A Night in with the Wordworths - 22 May

Friday 22 May 2020, 6.30pm – 7.25pm BST
Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A gala performing of William’s poetry and Dorothy’s journals begins our 250th anniversary celebrations with a superstar cast reading work that will include Intimations of Immortality, Daffodils, lines composed both Upon Westminster Bridge and Above Tintern Abbey, The Prelude and We Are Seven. Hosted and introduced by Shahidha Bari.

Follow the steps to register on our crowdcast platform, and then join any events you fancy. Happy festivalling.

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