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The Town That Loves Books: BBC Arts at Hay

From the home of the book festival at Hay-on-Wye, Martha Kearney looks at how the way we read is changing in the era of electronic publishing and globalised media.

Martha Kearney presents BBC Four's coverage of one of the most important moments on Britain's cultural calendar. Once described by the former US President Bill Clinton as the 'Woodstock of the Mind', the annual Hay Festival is a celebration of literature and ideas - an event that attracts some of the most distinguished figures from the worlds of the arts, culture, science, and publishing.

This programme features contributions from eminent novelists (including Helen Dunmore, Louisa Young and Kamila Shamsie) whose works have been inspired by the pain, sacrifice and heroism of those who served in the First World War. In an absorbing interview, Martha encounters the controversial Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, whose six-volume cycle of novels has created a sensation in his homeland; and meets some of the world's most celebrated children's writers - including the author of the hit series of Hank Zipzer book, Henry 'The Fonz' Winkler; Cassandra Clare, author of the hugely popular Mortal Instruments books; and Cressida Cowell, the creator of the hit How to Train Your Dragon series, which is now being adapted for the big screen by the major Hollywood studio, Dreamworks.

Meanwhile, Newsnight's culture correspondent Stephen Smith reports on the high-profile authors - including Jennifer Saunders, Suggs, and Carrie Fisher -who've bared their souls in that most lucrative publishing phenomenon: the Celebrity Memoirs. We also witness a Book Group from Bristol making its first visit to Hay-on-Wye - a pilgrimage that ends with a big surprise.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 1 Jun 2014 20:00

Corrections and Clarifications

We would like to point out that the contributor who appears in the item on Shakespeare is Professor Jerry Brotton, not Brotten, as wrongly indicated on the captions; and in the sequence on the international presence at Hay, the Malian Kora players are Sidiki Diabate and his father Toumani. 


Role Contributor
Presenter Martha Kearney
Presenter Stephen Smith
Executive Producer Michael Poole
Executive Producer David Okuefuna
Producer Lucie Donahue
Director Lucie Donahue


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