The Guardian Hay Festival: Next Best Thing to Being There
It’s back to guardian.co.uk today for a double-treat: its extensive, ongoing coverage of the Guardian Hay Festival in Wales, running from May 21-31, as well as The Book that changed my life, in which Nicole Jackson interviews 28 festival participants, who each provide a paragraph on their crucial reading. The event is primarily literary, but features a wide array of public figures: authors, poets, comedians, architects and politicians. There is also Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The main page has a considerable amount of video and podcasts, as well as blogs and articles about the festival. One of the presenters has proved unexpectedly timely: poet Ruth Padel, who in controversy resigned her position as the first female Professor of Poetry at Oxford University only nine days after being elected. Read more in the Guardian’s May 26 interview, Ruth Padel: Oxford poetry smear campaign could have been a conspiracy. She is also the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, and you can see a video of her reading from Darwin: A Life in Poems. The Book that changed my life surveys a cross-section of people, including the novelist Zoe Heller, historians Simon Schama and Antonia Fraser, and Alain de Botton, whom I featured in an earlier post. I’ll leave it to you to read the books that changed their lives and those of the other interviewees, but suffice to say that it’s a pretty eclectic and surprising list. It would be wonderful to attend this festival in person, but for most of us that’s not practical. Thank goodness we live in an age when technology allows us the next best thing.