Wimbledon BookFest – Audio Releases
Sponsored by Baillie Gifford
Over 30 events are available to listen to from our 2022 festivals on Wimbledon Common. Recordings available include: Ai Weiwei, Tina Brown, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Martin Bell & Christina Lamb, Katy Hessel, Susannah Constantine, Robert Harris, Kavita Puri and Chris Patten. These audio recordings are kindly brought to you 'free to listen to' by our lead sponsor Baillie Gifford.
Recordings are available to listen to on Soundcloud until end of February 2023.
NB: Some of the content is of a sensitive nature and may be triggering so do please read the event description before listening.
An exclusive chance to hear from the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021.
Susanna Clarke discusses how to follow up writing an international phenomenon, her inspirations for Piranesi and how a quiet story of isolation published during the pandemic became fascinatingly relevant to all lives. In conversation with the 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize Winner for Non-Fiction 2022 Katherine Rundell.
Russia and the Invasion of Ukraine
Panel event with Alan Rusbridger, Sarah Rainsford, Mark Galeotti and Sevgil Musaieva
A timely event exploring the long-lasting political impact of the war in Ukraine.
In this special event held in partnership with current affairs monthly Prospect, Alan Rusbridger led a discussion about the war in Ukraine and its long-term impact.
Panel: Sevgil Musaieva, Ukrainian Editor of Ukrayinska Pravda. Sevgil has covered oligarchy-related investigations, as well as reporting on corruption within the oil and gas industry. Mark Galeotti: Security expert and author of The Weaponisation of Everything. Mark has briefed audiences from NATO to the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee and appears regularly on news outlets around the world. Sarah Rainsford: BBC correspondent in Ukraine, former Moscow Correspondent. Author of I’m Not Your Enemy (pub: 2023) Listen here.
This conversation includes references to violent warfare.
Two brilliant writers come together to discuss their novels set in Belfast which tell the stories of ordinary people in extraordinary times.
Trespasses by award-winning author Louise Kennedy is a masterfully executed and intimate portrait of those caught between the warring realms of the personal and political, rooted in a turbulent and brutally imagined moment in the Troubles. These Days by Lucy Caldwell is a timeless and heart-breaking novel set against the backdrop of the Belfast Blitz: an exquisite story of two sisters trying to survive life and love during four nights of horrific bombing. Listen here.
Hear from two highly respected journalists who have reported from the world’s war zones.
Martin Bell has experienced eighteen war zones – as a soldier, a reporter, and a UNICEF ambassador. From the failures of Bosnia, Rwanda and South Sudan to the distribution of alternative facts across a darkening political landscape in Eastern Europe, Bell calls for us to learn from past mistakes – before it’s too late. Christina Lamb is currently Chief Foreign Correspondent for the Sunday Times, her postings have included South Africa, Pakistan, Brazil and Washington, and she is particularly known for her writing highlighting how war affects women. Listen here.
This conversation includes references to sexual violence.
With fans such as Graham Norton and Anne Tyler, Mary Lawson is a writer whose books are loved by critics and readers all over the world. In conversation with journalist and writer Jennifer Cox Mary looks back on her body of work. This acclaimed bestselling novelist and Booker longlister’s work deftly and poignantly evokes the tightly woven units of small town communities and families, navigating their joys and sorrows, their traumas and their loves. The Canadian born author has lived locally in Kingston for more than 40 years. Listen here.
New Statesman editor Jason Cowley examines the state of our divided nation and gives us hope for the future. Do the crises of Brexit, Covid and the horror of the war in Ukraine expose the need for a modern reinvigorated version of post-war solidarity, in a very different multi-ethnic and regionally divided England? Listen here.
The recipient of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, author of ten novels and numerous short stories, Abdulrazak Gurnah in conversation.
Both a scholar of postcolonial literature and one of its most celebrated authors, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s life and work alike are steeped in the complex reality of exile, a topic as relevant today as it ever was. Abdulrazak joins BBC journalist Kavita Puri for a conversation exploring the themes celebrated by the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy: a dedication to truth and aversion to simplification, compassion and unyielding commitment to the full complexity of human life, and above all things the intellectual passion that remains as undimmed now as when he began writing. Listen here.
Find out how the UK took up its position at the elbow of the worst people on Earth: the oligarchs, kleptocrats and gangsters.
As a country, the UK prides itself on values of fair play and the rule of law, but few countries do more to frustrate global anti-corruption efforts. Journalist Oliver Bullough reveals the devastating facts behind Britain’s financial secrets, corrupt politics and moral guilt. Listen here.
Suzanne Fagence Cooper: William and Jane Morris
The lives and legacies of both William Morris and his wife Jane
Explore the lives and legacies of both William Morris and his wife Jane and venture inside two personal stories of unparalleled creative artistry. The Morrises brought their creative partnership and rich artistic heritage to Wimbledon, when William set up his world- renowned works at Merton Abbey Mills. Their co-operative ethos is still alive at the William Morris House on The Broadway and here at Wimbledon BookFest. For the first time his wife Jane’s life is given equal focus and explored in depth. A wonderful opportunity to find out more about how the giant of the Victorian age, together with his wife, still influences today’s aesthetic with the expert art historian Suzanne Fagence Cooper. Listen here.
One of the UK’s leading broadcasters Justin Webb discusses his memoir The Gift of a Radio and his life as a journalist. Justin Webb is the longest serving presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme ‘Today.’ For the best part of four decades, he has been a voice on the airwaves or a presence on our TV screens. Justin is talking to Toby Mundy about his candid, unsparing and darkly funny memoir, a portrait of personal and national dysfunction told through his childhood in the 1970s. Listen here.
Bestselling psychotherapist Julia Samuel explores the far-reaching dynamics of families and how they impact on our lives. Our family relationships fundamentally influence our health and happiness — but we still think too narrowly about their impact on our lives. Julia uncovers how deeply we are influenced by our families – including the often- under-appreciated impact of grandparents and siblings – and how incorporating the latest academic research will provide us with the tools to be better relatives ourselves, and to create the families we wish for. Listen here.
A riveting conversation with the award-winning editor, journalist and Sunday Times bestselling author.
Full of powerful revelations, nuanced details and searing insight, this in conversation event with one of the world’s most distinguished journalists will irrevocably change and challenge our perceptions and understanding of the Royal Family. Tina Brown engages us on a tour de force journey that showcases the Queen’s stoic resolve as family drama rages around her. Listen here.
Afghan Women: My Pen is the Wing of a Bird with Lucy Hannah and Zarghuna Kargar
In conversation with Sanam Shantyaei
My Pen is the Wing of a Bird introduces writers with original, vital and unexpected stories, developed over two years as part of the 'Untold' writers’ project.
Lucy Hannah, who initiated the collection and is the founder and director of Untold Narratives CIC joins us to give the background to the project, along with one of the books translators, Zari Kargar. This offers a unique window into the state of contemporary Afghanistan with stories that are both unique and universal. Drawing from real-life events and experiences, their powerful and poignant short fiction explores themes of family, friendship, work, sexuality, love and betrayal. The anthology, My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird, comes at a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history, when these marginalised voices need to be heard more than ever. The event includes video footage and a Zoom link up with writers in Germany and Herat. Listen here.
(Note: This conversation includes references to violent warfare).
Jennifer Saint and Elodie Harper in conversation with Samira Ahmed as they dove into historical and literary narratives and offered up fierce and thoughtful feminist retellings. Unearthing the lives of women whose narratives have long been overlooked, these are compelling stories of survival, sisterhood and courage, still so contemporary and relevant in their concerns. Elodie Harper is a journalist and writer. Her new novel The House with the Golden Door is the second book in The Wolf Den trilogy, set in ancient Pompeii. Jennifer Saint was a teacher before writing her debut bestseller, Ariadne. Listen here.
More than a century after British troops looted and destroyed Benin City, this dark episode continues to cast a shadow as cultural institutions wrestle with the legacies of empire. Former BBC and Al Jazeera journalist Barnaby Phillips joined Fiammetta Rocco from The Economist to discuss the dramatic and tragic tale of the Benin Bronzes, their subsequent dispersal amongst the world’s museums and private collections and how these cultural and sacred objects are at the centre of international conversation and debate about their restitution. Listen here.
Legendary writer, broadcaster and champion of the arts joined Stefan Stern for a look back at the upbringing that shaped him.
Melvyn shared his experiences of growing up in up in a Cumbrian market town from his early childhood during the war to the moment he had to decide between staying on or spreading his wings. This event was an emotionally charged, poignant elegy to a vanished era and an illuminating look at how Melvyn became the man he is today. Listen here.
Jeremy Bowen in an enthralling and illuminating conversation about the modern Middle East.
Jeremy draws on his deep understanding of the region’s politics, it’s diverse cultural and religious contexts, his long experience of covering events and interviewing leaders as well as ordinary men and women. Expect to come away with an understanding of how the modern Middle East came to be and what its future might hold. Listen here.
(Note: This conversation includes references to violent warfare).
Lea Ypi joined us to tell her unforgettable coming of age story which explores the meaning of freedom in the personal, collective and political sense.
Having grown up in Albania under a communist system as it collapsed and ushered in a turbulent new order, Lea traced the limits of progress and the burden of the past, illuminating the spaces between ideals and reality, and the hopes and fears of people pulled along by the sweep of history. Listen here.
Chris Patten shared his invaluable first-hand experience of a hugely significant point in Hong Kong’s (and Britain’s) history – as well as his thoughts on future relations with China.
Lord Patten shared insights into how Hong Kong was run as a British colony and told the story of what happened as the handover approached. He told us how he sought to strengthen the institutions of self-government, only to be met by opposition. He also brought us up to date with an account of what has happened in Hong Kong since the handover, offering a powerful assessment of recent events and offering insights into how to deal with China – then and now. Listen here.
How many women artists do you know? Who makes art history? Did women even work as artists before the twentieth century? And what is the Baroque anyway?
Have your sense of art history overturned, and your eyes opened to many art forms often overlooked or dismissed. From the Cornish coast to Manhattan, Nigeria to Japan, this is the story of art for our times - one with women at its heart, brought together for the first time by Katy Hessel, art historian, presenter and curator dedicated to celebrating female artists. Recently awarded Waterstones Book of the Year for 2022. Listen here.
This was a candid and hilarious evening of jaw dropping anecdotes as style guru Susannah Constantine recounted her remarkable life story.
Susannah’s honesty and humour are irrepressible—this event was filled to the brim with scandalous stories, jaw-dropping royal relationships and star-studded encounters from pop stars to the fashion greats. But appearances are deceptive and beneath it all, Susannah is on a journey of discovery and told us about her greatest loves and lessons, bound together with her disarming honesty and beguiling humour. Listen here.
(Note: This conversation includes strong language and sexual references).
Based on his Poetry Unbound podcast (downloaded 6+ million times), poet and theologian Padraig O’Tuama offered commentary and personal anecdotes alongside a live reading from Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, a Palestinian poet and translator born and educated in Baddawi refugee camp in Lebanon.
For anyone who has wanted to try their hand at a conversation with poetry but doesn’t know where to start, this event with Padraig encouraged an understanding and appreciation of contemporary verse, presenting a window through which to celebrate the art of being alive. Listen here.
Listen to the much-loved actor Sheila Hancock in conversation with Samira Ahmed in what was a gloriously irreverent event.
Funny, feisty, honest (if often outraged), Hancock makes for brilliant company as she talks about her life as a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, a widow, an actor, a friend and looks at a world so different from the wartime world of her childhood. And yet – despite age, despite rage – she finds there are always reasons for joy. Listen here.
After the Second World War, new international rules heralded an age of human rights and self-determination. Supported by Britain, these unprecedented changes sought to end the scourge of colonialism. But how committed was Britain?
Offering a unique and vital contribution to the discussion around Britain’s colonial past, The Last Colony is a powerful tale about the making of modern international law, one woman’s fight for justice and a personal journey that culminates with a historic ruling. Philippe Sands QC is the award-winning author of the bestselling works East West Street and The Ratline. Listen here.
Award-winning journalist and broadcaster Kavita Puri joined us to discuss the aftermath of Partition, 75 years on.
Revealing a secret history of ruptured families and friendships, extraordinary journeys and daring rescue missions, Kavita broke the silence and confronted the difficult truths at the heart of Britain's shared past with South Asia. As well as a BBC Radio 4 programme in August 2022, her book was adapted for the stage at the Donmar Warehouse in September. Listen here.
Multi award-winning author and historian William Dalrymple made a welcome return to the Festival to share the remarkable story behind his latest multi-book release, The Company Quartet.
A story of powerful empires, covert political machinations and bloody resistance, this event offered a glimpse behind the curtain at the rise and fall of the world’s first global corporate power, the East India Company, spanning two hundred years of the history of the Indian sub-continent and the British Empire. Enjoy listening to Dalrymple as he talks about this epic and cautionary tale, and its continued relevance to the subcontinent and Britain of today. Listen here.
Author Kit de Waal joined us for a live recording of the Always Take Notes podcast, for and about writers and writing.
Kit was in conversation with Rachel Lloyd and Simon Akam talking about writing adult and YA fiction, adapting novels for film, editing anthologies and activism. Kits discussed her new memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes, in which Kit turned her prizewinning talents to the story of her own life. Listen here.
Robert Harris is known as a heavyweight of historical fiction with a knack for creating page-turning political thrillers with literary credence and we were delighted to welcome him back to BookFest.
Internationally best-selling author Robert Harris talked to Toby Mundy about his new historical novel, which is about the murder of Charles I and the greatest manhunt of the seventeenth century which offers up a fascinating exploration of the moral implications of monarchy versus republic. Listen here.
Joining Festival Patron Brian Moore for 2022’s rugby night is his former England teammate Martin Bayfield.
Renowned as one of rugby's best and most entertaining storytellers, the former policeman and Hagrid's body double joined Brian to inspire and entertain on this popular evening. Martin and Brian reveal the inside story of the rip-roaring days of the 1990s that changed forever the face of English rugby. Listen here.
Regarded as one of the world’s most famous artists and activists, Ai Weiwei joined Samira Ahmed in conversation at our Sunset Festival launch event in New Wimbledon Theatre.
In this rare appearance, Ai Weiwei discussed his life, work, creative practise and art. From the family’s banishment during the Cultural Revolution to his difficult decision to leave them to study art in America, and his subsequent rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist, Ai told of an extraordinary life lived under extraordinary circumstances. He also reflected on the myriad forces that have shaped modern China and the urgent need to protect freedom of expression Listen here.
Photos: Nick Gregan.
Recordings by Clownfish at Wimbledon BookFest Sunrise and Sunset Festivals in June & Sept 2022.
Sound editing: Jon Klein