Fry, Greer and Ishiguro Top Hay Early Birds

Early BirdsThe Hay Festival has announced the first names for the 2015 Festival from the 21 -31 May. Stalwart Stephen Fry, along with Germaine Greer and Kazuo Ishiguro are joined by Antony Beevor, Karen Armstrong and Dan and Peter Snow.   Also on the early bird list are giants of Children’s literature Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson.

Booking for these events is open exclusively to Friends of the Festival for three days after which sales open to the general public. This year the Festival has added advance car park booking which can be selected at the same time as tickets.

Fry who was named last year as festival President hosts the first in a Magna Carta series of twenty events. He will be joined by international guests to discuss equalities just two weeks after the general election and eight hundred years after a gang of barons met in a tent by a river to elicit the signature of King John.

Germaine Greer will discuss Juliet, Beatrice, Ophelia, Cleopatra, Ann Hathaway and the Dark Lady of the Sonnets with festival director Peter Florence and Kazuo Ishiguro will discuss his extraordinary new novel and his first in a decade. ‘The Buried Giant’ begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years on a journey that will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.


Interview with Dan Tyte

In a first for the Making Hay blog we conducted a real time interview using Google Hangouts Live on Air. We talked to author and PR man Dan Tyte at home in Cardiff about his debut novel, working in PR and his vist to the Hay Festival this year.

Author Jim Saunders on Hay – Past, Present and Future

Jim Saunders, author of  Hay – Landscape, Literature and the Town of Books will share his knowledge of Hay-on-Wye’s history, and then leads a discussion on the past, present and future of the town on Friday 5th September at  6pm at Booth’s Book Shop, 44 Lion Street, Hay on Wye.  Jim Saunders is a writer and photographer based in Knighton, Powys and a former Offa’s Dyke Path Officer. Jim’s nature photographs also illustrate numerous books and magazines.

His book is a portrait of Hay, its setting and its people in words and photographs. Images are interspersed with an exploration of the town’s history and its stories and characters – amongst them Francis Kilvert, Alfred Watkins, Hay poisoner Herbert Armstrong, the Baskerville/Conan Doyle connection, Owain Glyndŵr, Richard Booth, and of course the Hay Festival.

For more information about the talk or to RSVP contact

Google Hangout with Dan Tyte

Dan Tyte was a panelist at the last Hay Festival . He was born and raised in Cardiff, Wales. He studied English Literature at the University of Liverpool before becoming a PR man. I’ll be talking to live next week on Google Hangouts about his debut novel ‘Half Plus Seven’ which was published by Parthian Books in April 2014. It has been described by the Editor of NME as “a lethal cocktail of Bukowski and Mad Men, finished with a twist of dry Welsh wit.”

You can sign up to watch the broadcast on Wednesday 27th August at 7pm.  Just click here to register and you’ll get a reminder

Hay Festival Tweets of the Day – Sunday 1.06.14

 I refuse to believe is over until I’ve finished reading all the books I bought there!
 My new goal in life is to be Judi Dench.
 The man I greeted with “Hello Derek” at the Hay Festival was the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones. Career in politics down the pan…
 Haha shit. RT Lee Child says Russell Crowe was ‘too fat and too Australian’ to play Jack Reacher
 ‘Empathy opens the door of our moral concern, then laws and rights wedge it open’. Roman Krznaric
 A little bit sunburnt, a little bit tired after gloriously hot weekend at . And how splendid it was to dance
 So we’re watching Dame Judi Dench & Benedict Cumberbatch springs on stage for spot of joint Shakespeare. Best BOGOF ever
 I briefly met Judy Blume today at MOST exciting. A wise, witty and warm woman.
 Just back from spending time at Hay festival, last show of festival was excellent, real laugh out load fun!
 Back in London after fab Hay Festival. Fully expect to go upstairs and find Benedict Cumberbatch hiding in the wardrobe
 P.S. your loos were glorious. They veritably sparkled, even on the last day!
 Blatantly going to have a literature hangover tomorrow. Might need to buy a new notebook… :)
 I was too overexcited to be seeing the writer-subject of my dissertation speak to actually note down anything she said! Adichie
 One of many great things Dame Judi Dench said was to use sadness & grief “like petrol” to fuel your drive to succeed & thrive

Richard Eyre on Shakespeare

Richard Eyre

The theatre and film director Richard Eyre discusses Shakespeare’s History plays, and their role in our understanding of Britain’s identity.

“I’m going to free associate” he begins “rather than give an organised lecture”.  He’s a big fan of Henry IV Parts I and II but King Lear is his favourite because it’s the story of fatherhood.  Goethe said “every father is in some sense a King Lear”.  The relationships between fathers and their offspring are invariably central to Shakespeare’s history plays.  Eyre talks about his own Dorset upbringing where there was little artistic stimulation.  The nearest cinema was 12 miles away and his own parents did not encourage him to read.

Eyre’s free association moves on to the making of The Hollow Crown, the films he directed featuring Henry IV Parts I and II and executive produced for the BBC by Sam Mendes.  The audience at Hay was treated to a substantial excerpt.  “I wanted to run at that length because it demonstrates a lot of things that are important in translating from the theatre to film” said Eyre.  Part of the challenge is to honour the rythym and structure of the Shakespearian language with the more naturalistic requirements of film. Something that Eyre says requires great actors.  “We had a cast that it’s inconceivable that you could have in the theatre…every actor that I asked to be in it said yes”.


Steve Coogan and Stephen Frears talk to Alan Yentob

Coogan Yentob

Martin Sixsmith’s book Philomena has become an award-winning film by screenwriter and actor Steve Coogan and the director Stephen Frears. Alan Yentob begins by challenging the two of them as to the authenticity of the story as it appears on the screen.

Frears is happy to admit that parts of the story are invented and believes this makes the telling better. Coogan on the other hand fiercely defends the accuracy of the central tenets of the film. Coogan he was making Philomena and Alpha Papa the return of Alan Partridge at much the same time and it was a challenge. “Alan Partridge is a middle Englander, typical Daily Mail reader but he’s not a Ukip voter”.  Looking back at the early incarnations of the character Coogan finds him one-dimensional but believes that over 20 years he and Alan have become more and more alike “by the time I die we’ll be the same”.

Yentob moves on to talking about Rob Brydon and The Trip – the series were the two actors play versions of themselves exposing their genuine character flaws “we had an unwritten rule that we were allowed to push each others buttons”, but there were things that Coogan did not want included and would say “I’m not doing that in the middle of a  take”.  Coogan likes The Trip but not as much as others do.

Frears is responsible for an incredible catalogue of films; ‘The Grifters’, ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, ‘High Fidelity’ and going further back ‘If’ on which he was Assistant Director.  He tells Yentob that the breadth of films is because they had good writers and he took what he was offered “no-one encouraged me to be an auteur”.

Hay Festival Tweets of the Day – Saturday 31.05.14

 oh yeah, went to the Hay festival yesterday, wore a shirt and everything
 “When you enter into a friendship you enter into a contract of sorrow.” AC Grayling
 Just met at – kinda weird after studying his poetry at AS-Level but awesome nonetheless!
 Stood 5 yards away from A.C. Grayling. I LOVE HAY FESTIVAL.

Arianna Huffington – Thrive

Arianna Huffington

Seven years ago I had a wake up call says Arianna, when she opens her Saturday evening session in conversation with Georgina Godwin. “I was burnt out, I passed out and came round in a pool of my own blood”.  I’m supposed to be successful but coming round in a pool of your own blood isn’t a mark of success.

Society has brought the definition of success down to just two metrics – money and power.  It’s a two-legged stool that’s bound to fall over so she decided we needed a third metric.  The Huffington Post founder argues that a successful life is achieved by including a third metric: personal care, health, and fulfilment.  She also talks a great deal about the need for sleep. Bill Clinton said the biggest mistakes he made in life were when he was tired.  He didn’t specify which mistakes.

Arianna Huffington is a highly intelligent and engaging individual. There was much humour; she recalled a headline from The Onion that said ‘death rate remains steady at 100%’.  She had an anecdote about the British who she said allegedly have no spirituality and invented cricket so they could experience eternity.

All that said, her polemic feels personal rather than universal, it’s about her own journey.   It’s also framed in a kind of Californian world view, the view of someone who in a spiritual sense has gone from Wall Street to Haight Astbury – Huffington lived in California for a period in the nineties.

If her new book is as engaging on paper as she is in person then it will be a great read whether or not it serves as a useful and universal design for life.


Hay Festival Tweets of the Day – Friday 30.05.14

 French culture, empathy, architecture, neurosurgery, anthropology, Berlin + now US naval history, all in 1 day at #WalesStage @hayfestival
 You know you’re old when you get excited by receiving an email from the hay festival about car parking
 My comment that school is crap and basically a waste of time seemed to go down better with kids than parents.
 The is a truly extraordinary, bold & inspiring exploration of ideas. The quest to understand & be understood is alive & well.
 Is there anyone not at the Hay Festival?
 I went to 2nd Glastonbury Festival way back when & have now added to my bucket list. Looks great – & muddy.
 Jolly nice day at ! Now for fish & chips and possibly a drink,purely medicinal you understand.
 What I love about is the spaces inbetween & event connections. Today – themes of morality, pursuit of happiness & prolepsis!