10 authors to see at 2018’s Hay Festival
Literary festivals take pride of place in many passionate readers’ calendars, and there are plenty of events rearing their bespectacled heads over the horizon – one of the most important being Hay Festival. Ranging from children’s fiction to heavyweight political discussion, Mo Harber-Lamond explores the 10 most exciting writers on the programme at Hay Festival this year.
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At Professional Writing Academy we love a literary get-together, and coming up in less than a month is the British iteration of the renowned Hay Festival. Held in Hay-on-Wye in Wales, this gathering of everything and everyone literarily inclined has brought together readers and writers for 30 years – and doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon.
Much like the more ubiquitous music festival, attendees can choose to stay in tented camping areas or local establishments, but many people pick and choose, only sticking around for a day or two. However long your stay, there’s bound to be more than enough to stimulate your wordy senses.
So, who’s there?
With 11 jam-packed days there’s no shortage of talks, readings, screenings and interviews – if you were to flick through the weighty programme and pick one at random you’d likely have a wonderful hour or so. However, with multiple stages and competition like David Walliams, Akala, Helen Pankhurst and Eoin Colfer, to get the most out of Hay Festival you’ll have to pick wisely. Below are the events we’re most excited to see this year.
Margaret Atwood, 28–29 May
One of the most anticipated acts of the festival, on 28 May Canadian author Margaret Atwood will be discussing her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which many younger fans will know from the recent television adaptation. The next day, Atwood will be reading and discussing her poetry.
On 26 May dub poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah will be closing the day’s activities with The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah.
Benjamin Zephaniah, 26 May
On 26 May dub poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah will be closing the day’s activities with readings from The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah, where he will explore his past and the important events that led him to where he is today – all interspersed with his inimitable poetry and stories, of course.
Nick Sharratt, 28 May
Children’s writer and illustrator Nick Sharratt will be entertaining the young and slightly less young alike with a celebration of his new picture book You Choose in Space. Expect games, live drawing from Nick and the chance to invent your own monsters.
Comedian and actor Robert Webb – best known for Peep Show and his other work with creative partner David Mitchell – will be discussing his semi-memoir How Not to Be a Boy.
Robert Webb, 25 May
Comedian and actor Robert Webb – best known for Peep Show and his other work with creative partner David Mitchell – will be discussing his semi-memoir How Not to Be a Boy. There’s been quite a buzz around the book recently, and if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, this is your chance to find out what everyone’s been raving about.
Richard Dawkins, 1 June
The ‘uncompromising rationalist’ readies his crosshairs once again with Science in the Soul. While focusing on the relationship between rational thinking and politics, Dawkins will also take aim at bad science, religion in schools and climate-change deniers. Proceed with caution.
The Oxford Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage will be delivering a lecture exploring the relationship between song writing and poetry.
Simon Armitage, 27 May
The Oxford Professor of Poetry will be delivering a lecture exploring the relationship between song writing and poetry. The catalyst for this is Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature and the controversy surrounding his selection, and the lecture will be fascinating for anyone with a little music in their soul.
Michael Wolff, 27 May
You’ve got a real decision to make now – do you want to learn about song writing and poetry or watch an interview with the man who gave us an inside scoop to the workings of one of the most controversial leaders of our time? Both are difficult to pass up, but are taking place at the same time. Here, Michael Wolff will be discussing Fire and Fury, his exposé of President Trump’s rise to the top.
Lionel Shriver will be reading from her new collection of short fiction, Property.
Lauren Child, 1–2 June
If you’ve had – or have been – a child in the past 20 years or so, you’re bound to recognise the name Lauren Child. Author of the Charlie and Lola books, the Clarice Bean and the Ruby Redfort series, on 1 June Child will be discussing the poetry of illustration, creativity and making time to dream. A day later she will be reading from her new book A Dog with Nice Ears in an interactive event.
Lionel Shriver, 1 June
You may know Lionel Shriver from her long-form work, such as the Orange Prize-winning We Need to Talk About Kevin, but at Hay Festival she will be reading from her new collection of short fiction, Property. Any fan of the under-represented short form will be glad to see they’re not forgotten about here.
Philip Pullman will be discussing his essay collection Demon Voices and his novel La Belle Sauvage, and exploring the power and contemporary relevance of fairy tales.
Philip Pullman, 31 May & 2 June
Young Adult fiction favourite Philip Pullman is up for The Bookseller’s YA Book Prize, and on 31 May those on the shortlist will be discussing their work in a pre-award presentation. On 2 June, though, he will take centre stage, discussing his essay collection Demon Voices and his novel La Belle Sauvage. Later that day he will be joined by Marina Warner and Jack Zipes to discuss the power and contemporary relevance of fairy tales and speculative fiction.
Now that you know who’s attending, the only decision you’ve got left is to decide who to see. To view the full programme and learn more, visit the Hay Festival website.