Hay Festival 2017 - closing weekend wrap

Kate Wilkinson
News - Festivals Monday, 05 June 2017

Bernie Sanders stars as festival draws to a close; Hay donates audio archive to the British Library


The closing weekend at Hay Festival included a number of talks with political figures and pundits. Labour MP Jess Phillips spoke on Saturday about her book Everywoman ("one woman's truth about speaking the truth"), which topped that day’s festival bookshop bestsellers list. On Sunday, BBC's Evan Davies was promoting his Post-Truth.

Previously in the week, Hay gave stage to Labour party figures Ed Balls and Harriet Harman. Meanwhile, Hay writers and artists to take on contemporary politics in their writing included Howard Jacobson, who spoke on Saturday about his novel Pussy, ostensibly based on Donald Trump.

However, the top billing on Saturday was given to US Senator Bernie Sanders, who gave an interview with BBC's HARDtalk before an evening event presented by Welsh actor Michael Sheen. Hay's largest venue hosted the event, with live screenings in a second venue and in cafes on site, as well as a live Facebook stream. The American progressive briskly referenced his new book, written before November 2016's US election, before tackling the issues of the day and Trump's presidency.

Sanders told the audience: "On virtually every issue, the vast majority of the American people do not agree with President Trump." He called for co-operation as an international community in order to fight issues such as terrorism and climate change. The 75-year-old politician was greeted with loud applause from the festival audience.

Hay archive to British Library
Hay Festival has announced the largest single donation of literary recordings in the British Library's history, handing over its 30-year audio-visual archive.

Founder and director of Hay Festival Peter Florence announced the news at the 30th Festival's closing reception in front of an audience of guests including Bernie Sanders.

The donation extends the festival's support for libraries locally and nationally. It also has a partnership with the Reading Agency, and is involved with HOWLS, the Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters campaigning group.

Among the authors featured in the archive are Arthur Miller, Maya Angelou, Bill Clinton, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein, Edward Said, Alice Walker, Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Carter, Seamus Heaney, Zadie Smith, Tom Stoppard, Nadine Gordimer, Martin Amis, Paul McCartney, Desmond Tutu and Ted Hughes.

Stephen Cleary, lead curator of literary and creative recordings at the British Library, said: "The collection will prove an invaluable resource for the study of writers and the public, and will trace how Hay Festival grew from relatively modest beginnings 30 years ago to become a national and international phenomenon."

The donation is the final project to be announced in celebration of the Festival’s 30th anniversary; others include the #HAYTREES project and the publication of Hay Festival Conversations.

Photo: Sam Hardwick

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