From Thursday next week, a large chunk of Britain’s intelligentsia will be converging on Hay-on-Wye to hear, speak to and debate with some of the country’s—indeed the world’s—leading thinkers.
The Hay festival has long been a staple of the literary calendar, and this year Prospect’s editor Bronwen Maddox will interview the economist Dambisa Moyo, the Libyan novelist Hisham Matar and discuss the media coverage of popular uprisings with Jeremy Bowen and Adam Michnik. Prospect will also be running events at Booth’s Books.
Another interesting development at Hay in recent years has been the emergence of a philosophy and music festival, which runs alongside the longer-established literary festival.
“How the Lights Get In” (see Prospect’s preview of it back in 2009) started “almost by accident,” festival director Hilary Lawson told me when I caught up with him last week. It was born of a desire to give philosophy a better hearing, to move it away both from dry academia and Monty-Python style caricature. Combining debates and discussion with music events, Lawson told me, is in part designed to attract a “broad church” and to give the festival a “bohemian and relaxed” character, where people feel encouraged to engage with the speakers and the ideas, and are still “propping up the bar at 10 o’ clock at night having an argument.”