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Looking forward to the Hay Festival 2014

By Kate Farquhar-Thomson


I look forward to the last week of May every year and 2014 is no exception. To what am I referring? My annual pilgrimage to Hay-on-Wye of course.

Every year since I can remember, I find myself in England’s famous book town for the excellent Hay Festival. Now in its 27th year the eponymous book festival can be found nestling under canvass for 11 days in the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Due to the breadth of our publishing at OUP we are lucky enough to field a great ‘team’ of authors every year at this internationally renowned festival and this year is no exception.

Sharing the Green Room with the likes of Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Monty Don, and James Lovelock, this year, will be Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development and Director of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, who will be speaking about ‘Meeting Global Challenges’. This talk kicks off a series of three talks inspired by the new book Is the Planet Full?  Edited by Goldin, the book has 10 contributors and later in the week talks will also pull out some of the books’ major themes such as ‘The End of Population Growth?’ addressed by Professor Sarah Harper, Co-Director, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, ‘Can the World Feed 10 Billion People (Sustainably & Equitably)’ discussed by Charles Godfrey and with Yavinder Malhi who will be looking at the question ‘Bigger than the Biosphere? A metabolic perspective on our human-dominated planet’.

The Hay Festival site. Photo by Finn Beales.
The Hay Festival site. Photo by Finn Beales.

A specialist in ancient Greek history, Professor Paul Cartledge will be talking about his latest book After Thermopylae. Illustrating the diversity of the OUP’s contribution to the festival this year and offering something for everyone, the week continues with Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones discussing spies and spying; John van Wyhe, who is flying in from Singapore, will talk about Alfred Russell Wallace of whom last year saw the 100 year anniversary of his death; Justin Gregg, who knows a thing or two about dolphins, asks Are Dolphins Really Smart? For the scientists among us Professor Peter Atkins will surely answer the question What is Chemistry? in a fully illustrated talk on the subject.

Frequent visitors to Hay will be familiar with David & Hilary Crystal who have entertained many a festival goer over the years and this year they plan to take us on a literary tour through the UK looking at how the language was shaped by Wordsmiths and Warriors in history.

There is not much Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies at King’s College London, doesn’t know about Strategy. And his latest book on the topic gives us a panoramic synthesis of the role of strategy throughout world civilization, from ancient Greece through the nuclear age. He was appointed Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997 and more recently, in June 2009, served as a member of the official inquiry into Britain and the 2003 Iraq War.

During the final weekend of the festival Thomas Weber will bring insight and detail on Hitler’s formative experiences as a soldier on the Western Front when discussing Hitler’s First War and Julian Thomas will discuss ‘The Dorstone Dig‘ where over the last couple of summers, the archaeological team have uncovered two 6,000-year-old burial mounds and the remains of two huge halls that appear to have been ritually burned down.

I, for one, will be looking forward to being entertained and educated during my week at Hay and I hope you are too!

Kate Farquhar-Thomson is Head of Publicity at OUP in Oxford.

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Image credit: Hay Festival site. Photo by Finn Beales.

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