Watch BIG BOOK WEEKEND

Welcome to the video archive for the first Big Book Weekend, which took place during lockdown on 8-10 May 2020. Here you can watch videos of all of the sessions, and you can still download the original programme (PDF). Enjoy!

Anne Brontë, feminist

Jackie Kay, Adjoa Andoh, Isabel Greenberg, Cathy Newman

To mark the 200th anniversary of Anne Brontë’s birth, enjoy conversation, graphic artworks and live readings from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Join novelist and poet Jackie Kay, award-winning British graphic novelist Isabel Greenberg, acclaimed actor and director Adjoa Andoh, and journalist and broadcaster Cathy Newman as they discuss this feminist pioneer. From Charleston Festival.

Classics, Feminism, Fiction, History

Books bring us together

Maggie O’Farrell, Damian Barr

Award-winning British-Irish author Maggie O’Farrell discusses the joy and importance of book festivals, and her latest novel Hamnet, with journalist and debut novelist Damian Barr.

Fiction

Creating Killing Eve

Luke Jennings, Sarah Hilary

Killing Eve started life as a series of self-published novellas with an avid audience of devoted fans, before becoming one of the biggest TV hits of the last two years. Crime novelist Sarah Hilary quizzes author Luke Jennings on what drove him to create a female-centred thriller that shook up the genre. From Lyme Crime.

Crime and Thriller, Fiction, Queer

Crime for our times

Jane Casey, Alan Judd, Gary Donnelly, Liz Nugent, Paul Waters

Broadcaster Paul Waters talks to Irish and British crime writers about their latest novels, what they tell us about society’s preoccupations, and how the genre might reflect on today’s global crises. Jane Casey’s The Cutting Place is set in the dark world of London’s elite gentlemen’s clubs; Alan Judd’s Accidental Agent, features a spy at the heart of the Brexit negotiations; Gary Donnelly’s Blood Will Be Born explores how historic crimes still haunt Northern Irish society; and Liz Nugent looks at the dark side of the cult of celebrity in Our Little Cruelties. From NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival.

Crime and Thriller, Fiction, Politics

Draw medieval Scotland

Jill Calder

Celebrating her award-winning children’s book with author James Robertson, Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, illustrator Jill Calder inspires us to dive into history and draw the kings, queens, castles and creatures from medieval Scotland… then make your very own folded picture book! Suitable for all ages – just make sure you have A4 or A3 paper, scissors, and colouring pencils. From Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival.

Art, History, Kids

Escaping Earth

Laura Lam, Temi Oh, Charlotte Platt

What if the only way to save humanity is to leave the collapsing Earth behind? In Do You Dream of Terra-Two, Temi Oh sends six teenagers on an intergalactic mission to save the population of a dying Earth, while in Goldilocks, Laura Lam entrusts humanity’s last chance for survival to the first all-female space crew. Two rising stars of contemporary science-fiction discuss their books, while Charlotte Platt caps it off with a reading from her urban fantasy novel A Stranger’s Guide. From Cymera: Scotland’s Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Writing.

Feminism, Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Football’s most shocking moments

Phil Cartwright, Fran Richards

In Red Mist: Football’s Most Shocking Moments (Red Cards, Dirty Tackles, Headbutts, Pitch Invaders and More), sports journalist Phil Cartwright explores the uglier side of the ‘beautiful game’. Talking to Fran Richards, he discusses everything from Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt to Eric Cantona’s king-fu kick, exploring the mavericks, pioneers, anti-heroes and icons that have defined football history. From Lichfield Literary Festival.

History, Non-fiction, Sport

Girl, Woman, Other

Bernardine Evaristo

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, Bernardine Evaristo, discusses Girl, Woman, Other with Creative Scotland’s Mairi Kidd. From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, her extraordinary novel follows a cast of twelve characters as they each search for what they’re missing – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, an absent mother, a lost father… even just a touch of hope. From Aye Write.

Feminism, Fiction, Queer, Race

Hope, humour and The Talented Mr Varg

Alexander McCall Smith

Master story-teller Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, offers a gentle escape into a world of hope and humour. He reads a special message written for the Big Book Weekend, performs two poems to inspire and uplift, and reads from his latest book, The Talented Mr. Varg. From Shoreham Wordfest. 

Crime and Thriller, Fiction, Poetry

How to be a woman

Marian Keyes, Catherine Mayer

For more than 20 years, Marian Keyes has been writing internationally-bestselling fiction that centres on and values the stories of women. Her latest novel, Grown Ups, is delighting critics and fans with its take on the complexities of families, friendships and female identity. In this frank, free-ranging interview, she talks to author and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, Catherine Mayer, about writing, using your voice, and growing into your own skin. From Primadonna Festival.

Feminism, Fiction, Mental health, Romance

Journey to a greener planet

Samantha Miles, Rachel Falber

Join the founders of Uh-Oh! Books for an interactive storytelling of their picture book, “Uh-Oh!” Said Flo. With activities to do throughout, listen to this eco-friendly educational story following Flo’s journey against plastic pollution and climate change, plus discover how you can make a difference in a fun and engaging way. From Storytale Festival.

Kids, Nature

Men, time travel and love

Robert Webb, Alex Clark

Robert Webb, best known for Mitchell & Webb and Peep Show, is more than just a comedian. His bestselling part-memoir, part-manifesto, How Not To Be a Boy, takes a sharp-eyed look at the state of modern masculinity, while his debut novel Come Again, is a time-travelling story of love and redemption. He discusses his ideas and inspirations with journalist Alex Clark. From Cambridge Literary Festival.

Fiction, Mental health, Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Northern Irish writing now

Paul Muldoon, Lucy Caldwell, Glenn Patterson, Marie-Louise Muir

Three talented writers from Northern Ireland – Lucy Caldwell, Paul Muldoon and Glenn Patterson – are hosted by BBC presenter and broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir in a conversation about their work and their best books of the year. From Belfast Book Festival.

Fiction

Outsiders and imagination

Louise Hare, Beth Morrey

Debut novelists Louise Hare and Beth Morrey take very different subjects for their books, but share central characters who are outsiders looking for their place in the world. In Hare’s This Lovely City, her heroine arrives on the Empire Windrush to post-war London, but soon learns that new arrivals are treated with suspicion; while in Saving Missy, Morrey examines the loneliness of a prickly woman who finds that there are still second chances – even at 79. From Derby Book Festival.

Fiction, Race

Resist: stories of uprising

Bidisha, Luan Goldie, Zoe Lambert, Joelle Taylor

The anthology Resist: Stories of Uprising charts two thousand years of British resistance, from the Battle of Cable Street to the protests after the Grenfell Tower Fire. This panel will focus on three works from the collection covering Boudica, the Ford Dagenham Women’s Strike, and Seeds of Hope. The discussion will be moderated by Joelle Taylor, who hitched a ride to the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp as a teenager. From Bradford Literature Festival.

Feminism, History, Non-fiction, Politics

Rival queens

Kate Williams, Jenni Calder

Two queens on a single island, surrounded by sycophants and spies, besieged by secret plots. Who will survive to rule all? Author, historian and television presenter Kate Williams discusses her latest book Rival Queens: The Betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots – a “great rivalry reimagined for the #MeToo generation” – with biographer, poet and fiction writer Jenni Calder. From Birnam Book Festival.

Feminism, History, Non-fiction

Surviving through stories

AL Kennedy

We Are Attempting To Survive Our Time is Costa Book Award-winning author A.L. Kennedy’s new collection of wry, caustic and unsparing fiction. Join her and the UK’s first Professor of Short Fiction, Ailsa Cox, to dive into the world of short story telling with these two masters of the art, and explore why it is rising in popularity today. From WOWFest.

Fiction, Politics

Tackling big issues in fiction

Kia Abdullah, Abir Mukherjee

Social divisions are the stuff of great fiction – but they’re also a very real challenge for many people today. So how can novelists tackle class, race and politics without being reductive or biased? How can they write sympathetic characters whose views or actions they don’t necessarily agree with? And how do they deal with readers who take offence? Kia Abdullah, author of legal thriller Take It Back, discusses these thorny issues with Abir Mukherjee, bestselling author of the Sam Wyndham series of crime novels set in Raj-era India. From Asian Booklist.

Crime and Thriller, Fiction, Race

Tales from a west end legend

Sir Tim Rice, Daniel Hahn

Sir Tim Rice is the lyricist behind some of the biggest stage and screen musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, The Lion King and Aladdin. His collaborators have included Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alan Menken and Elton John, and he has written lyrics for acts as diverse as Elvis Presley, Placido Domingo and 10cc. In this interview with author Daniel Hahn, he discusses his life, career and the inspiration for his award-winning musicals. From London Library Lit Fest.

Music, Non-fiction

Telling war stories

Michael Morpurgo, Clare Mulley

Michael Morpurgo, award-winning author of War Horse, talks to Clare Mulley about his bestselling World War II books for children. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day he reveals what inspired stories such as Flamingo Boy, In the Mouth of the Wolf, An Eagle in the Snow and Waiting for Anya. Suitable for ages 7+.

Fiction, History, Kids

The celox and the clot

Hafsah Aneela Bashir

Hafsah Aneela Bashir is a poet, playwright and performer originally from the east end of London. Passionate about amplifying unheard voices, she works in the heart of the community to make that happen. Here she performs from her poetry collection The Celox and The Clot, exploring themes of love, loss and the post-colonial immigrant experience. From Kendal Poetry Festival.

Poetry, Race

The forgotten WWII hero

Rick Stroud

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, biographer Rick Stroud will tell the astonishing story of Victor Gregg, aged 100, one of the last great survivors of World War II who saw action at Alamein and Arnhem, and experienced Dresden as a Prisoner of War.

History, Non-fiction, Politics

The genius of Ray Bradbury

Neil Gaiman, Sam Weller

To celebrate 100 years since the birth of legendary fantasy and sci-fi guru Ray Bradbury (Faranheit 451The Martian Chronicles), join the award-winning Bradbury biographer and writer Sam Weller in a spirited discussion with the one and only global bestseller Neil Gaiman. They muse on Bradbury’s inestimable influence and enduring popularity, and how it has inspired their own work.

Classics, Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy

The magical world of ponds

Will Millard

This session for kids of all ages is book-ended by readings from Will Millard’s book, The Old Man and the Sand-Eel. Using live specimens gathered from the ponds in his Cardiff backyard, and drawing inspiration from his ‘lockdown lessons’ on Facebook, Will introduces us to the wonderful world hidden just beneath the surface of Britain’s ponds and rivers. From Pontypridd Children’s Book Festival.

Kids, Nature, Non-fiction

The power of isolation

Terry Waite CBE, Tony Gallienne

In the 1980s, while operating as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy, Terry Waite was taken and held hostage in Lebanon for nearly five years. Since then, Terry has been drawn to finding out more about the power of isolation. In this interview with Tony Gallienne from Guernsey Literary Festival, he will show how solitude shapes the human soul, and explore how it can be a force for good. From Guernsey Literary Festival.

Mental health, Non-fiction, Politics

The rules of contagion

Adam Kucharski, Tim Hubbard

Why and how do ideas, false news and diseases spread? And how, in an increasingly small world, can we control them? Author, TED fellow and Wellcome Prize-winner Professor Adam Kucharski has worked on global outbreaks including Ebola and Covid-19. He discusses his new book on contagion in all its forms with Tim Hubbard. From Stratford Literary Festival.

Non-fiction, Science

Why we need gardens

Sue Stuart-Smith, Marion Boswall

In a world where the average child spends less time outside each week than a maximum-security prisoner, gardening can reinvigorate and heal. With new research collected from different cultures around the world, psychiatrist and psychotherapist Sue Stuart-Smith talks to leading landscape architect and Garden Media Guild Columnist of the Year 2019, Marian Boswall, about why it’s more important than ever to rediscover a closer relationship with the earth. From Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival.

Mental health, Nature, Non-fiction

Wonder, weirdness, writing

Juno Dawson, Patrick Ness

Author Katherine Webber meets with two leading lights of YA fiction for a discussion about writing, reading and finding your place in the world. Juno Dawson is a journalist, screenwriter and bestselling writer of books including This Book is GayMeat Market and Wonderland. Patrick Ness has written three novels for adults and six for young adults including The Knife of Never Letting GoA Monster Calls and Burn, and has won the Carnegie Medal twice, the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. From The Coast is Queer.

Fiction, Mental health, Queer, Young Adult