We are thrilled to share the line-up of speakers for Wealden 2018 below.
Ten Reasons to Love a Turtle
In partnership with the Natural History Museum, Catherine Barr has written a new series of beautifully illustrated books giving children ten reasons why each animal is amazing, and five ways they can show they love it. Take, for example, 10 Reasons to Love a Turtle: Turtles go on incredible journeys, have beautiful shells, can hold their breath for hours and even cry salty tears. Show you love them by not dropping litter on the beach and NEVER buying anything made of tortoiseshell. This is a must for any young animal enthusiast.
Owls have captivated the human imagination for millennia. We have fixated on this night hunter as predator, messenger, emblem of wisdom or portent of doom. Miriam Darlington tells a story about the wild in nature and in the unpredictable course of our human lives. In her watching and deep listening to owls in the natural world, the author cleaves myth from reality and brings the strangeness and magnificence of these creatures to life.
Gregory Norminton & Natasha Carthew – Tales of Place
This event explores the role of place in fiction. In The Devil’s Highway Gregory Norminton weaves together three tales of human struggle linked by one ancient road that resemble one another more than they differ. Spanning centuries, and combining elements of historical and speculative fiction with the narrative drive of pure thriller, it is a breathtakingly original novel that challenges our dearly held assumptions about civilisation. Natasha Carthew is a startling new voice from beyond the limits of common urban experience. In All Rivers Run Free, she tells a tale of marginalisation and motherhood in prose that crashes like waves on rocks; rough, breathless and beautiful.
How to Eat a Peach
Food writer Diana Henry talks about her favourite foods and places that feature in her new book, How to Eat a Peach.
Putting together a menu is Diana Henry’s favourite part of cooking. But what is perhaps most special about them is the way they can create very different moods – menus can take you places, from an afternoon at the seaside in Brittany to a sultry evening eating mezze in Istanbul. They are a way of visiting places you’ve never seen, revisiting places you love and celebrating particular seasons.
Adder, Bluebell, Lobster
If you add an adder to an adder they are prone to have a dance, they writhe around each other till the strongest gets a chance to PUSH the other down. Watch out for bossy Beetroot! Be enchanted by a Bluebell witch’s thimble and spot a dive-bombing Lark or a cute Great-Crested Newt. From Adder to Wren, forty fantastic poems celebrate forty amazing animals, birds and plants and their beautiful names – which YOU can help poet Chrissie Gittins save from EXTINCTION. This is nature close up, exciting – and WILD.
Chrissie will be reading from Adder, Bluebell, Lobster followed by a creative workshop.
Suitable for ages 7+. Limited availability.
The Immeasurable World
Travelling to five continents over three years, visiting deserts both iconic and little-known, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. His journey takes him to the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter and Australia’s nuclear-test grounds; the dry Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and ‘sand seas’ of China’s volatile north-west; the contested borderlands of Arizona and the riotous Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert; and the ancient monasteries of Egypt’s Eastern Desert. Along the way, Atkins illuminates the people, history, topography, and symbolism of these remarkable but often troubled places.
Lucy Mangan – Bookworm A Memoir of Childhood Reading
Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.
Peter Fiennes and Lisa Samson – Journeys through Trees
The magic and mystery of the woods are embedded in culture, from ancient folklore to modern literature. They offer us refuge: a place to play, a place to think. They are the generous providers of timber and energy. They let us dream of other ways of living. Yet we now face a future where taking a walk in the woods is consigned to the tales we tell our children. In Oak and Ash and Thorn, Peter Fiennes explores our long relationship with the woods and the sad and violent story of how so many have been lost.
Today, ash trees face a particular crisis. The grave prognosis the trees have been given as a result of ash dieback takes on a personal resonance when, in the course of writing Epitaph for the Ash, Lisa Samson is diagnosed with a brain tumour. While she receives treatment, and learns to walk and talk again, Lisa finds solace once more in the natural world. As Lisa contemplates her own mortality, and the trees’ likely fate emerges, Epitaph for the Ash offers up a rallying cry to treasure these remarkable woodlands while we still can, before it is too late.
Blackbird, Bye Bye
Moniza Alvi’s new collection of poems is unified by birds. Her creations ‘Motherbird’ and ‘Fatherbird’ are inspired by her parents, and by the loss of her father and by his emigration from Pakistan. Among the many bird-related poems are versions of the French poets Jules Supervielle and Saint-John Perse, and poems ‘after’ the paintings of the Spanish-Mexican surrealist artist Remedios Varo.
Blackbird, Bye Bye is Moniza Alvi’s first new poetry book since her T.S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection At the Time of Partition, published in 2013.
As Kingfishers Catch Fire
Preston gave up birdwatching at the age of 15. His love of birds did not go away and he created his own anthology of nature writing about birds in the books that he read. Preston says he looked for moments when ‘heart and bird are one’. The result is an anthology that is as much about the joy of reading as it is about the thrill of wildlife. It ranges from Keats’s nightingale to the crow-strewn sky of Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Ted Hughes’s Hawk in the Rain and Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. The anthology is beautifully illustrated by graphic artist Neil Gower.
The Secret Life of Cows
Rosamund Young describes how cows are as varied as people. They can be highly intelligent or slow to understand, vain, considerate, proud, shy or inventive. Although much of a cow’s day is spent eating, they always find time for extra-curricular activities such as babysitting, playing hide and seek, blackberry-picking or fighting a tree. This is an affectionate record of a hitherto secret world.
Rosamund will be in conversation with Stephen Hook, maverick farmer and star of the widely acclaimed Sundance Film Festival hit, The Moo Man.
Robert Winder – The Last Wolf: The Hidden Springs of Englishness
It is often assumed that national identity must be a matter of values and ideas. But for Robert Winder, it is a land built on a lucky set of natural ingredients: the island setting that made it maritime; the rain that fed the grass that nourished the sheep that provided the wool, and the wheat fields that provided its cakes and ale. Then came the seams of iron and coal that made it an industrial giant. Travelling the country, the author looks for the hidden springs of Englishness not in royal pageantry or politics, but in landscape and history.
Rosie Wellesley is a magical blend of doctor/author/illustrator. Join Rosie as she reads from her new book – The Itchy-Saurus – and talks about why she wrote this story about a dinosaur with an itch that can’t be scratched. Suitable for ages 3-6, you’ll be joining in with the dinosaur roars and potion-making and then drawing along with Rosie as she shows you how to draw the characters from her books.
21st-Century Yokel explores the way we can be tied inescapably to landscape, whether we like it or not, often through our family and our past. It’s not quite a nature book, not quite a humour book, not quite a family memoir, not quite folklore, not quite social history, not quite a collection of essays, but a bit of all six.
Mark Cocker and Tim Dee – The Place of Nature
Two of the country’s most celebrated naturalists examine the state of the relationship between people and the natural world. Radical, provocative and original, Mark Cocker’s Our Place: Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife Before it is Too Late? tackles some of the central issues of our time and tries to map out how this overcrowded island of ours could be a place fit not just for human occupants but also for its billions of wild citizens. As editor of Ground Work: Writings on People and Places, Tim Dee has curated an essential collection of autobiographical essays from distinguished writers that explore the complex and increasingly troubled relationship between the human and natural. With essays from authors including Alexandra Harris and Helen Macdonald, Ground Work is set to become a key document for understanding the age that has come to be known as the Anthropocene.
Yuval Zommer – The Big Book of the Blue
Why do crabs run sideways?
Are jellyfish made of jelly?
Tim Birkhead’s most recent book, The Wonderful Mr Willughby, is a fascinating insight into the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century and a lively biography of the first true ornithologist, Francis Willughby. Tim is the author of several acclaimed books including The Most Perfect Thing which was the source of inspiration for the BBC programme Attenborough’s Wonder of Eggs.
My House of Sky is the first biography of the acclaimed and enigmatic naturalist, J.A. Baker, author of The Peregrine. Hetty Saunders showcases some of the most compelling parts of the J. A. Baker Archive, containing previously unknown details of Baker’s life as well as extracts from his own personal writing. It provides an invaluable new insight into both the sensitive, passionate character of J. A. Baker, and the state of late twentieth-century Britain, a country experiencing the throes of agricultural and environmental revolutions.
The Meaning of Things
The poet Elaine Randell lives on Romney Marsh where she keeps Soay sheep, chickens and English Setter dogs. Rural life in Kent and Turkey, where she also has a home, is important to her. The Meaning of Things is Elaine’s latest collection of prose and poems which reflects upon the art-life divide.
The Electricity of Every Living Thing
The Electricity of Every Living Thing tells the story of the year in which Katherine comes to terms with an Asperger’s diagnosis. It leads to a re-evaluation of her life so far – a kinder one, which finally allows her to be different rather than simply awkward, arrogant or unfeeling. The physical and psychological journeys become inextricably entwined, and as Katherine finds her way across the untameable coast, she also finds the way to herself. This is a life-affirming exploration of wild landscapes, what it means to be different and, above all, how we can all learn to make peace within our own unquiet minds.
Helen Scales – Eye of the Shoal
Seventy per cent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. This vast aquatic realm is inhabited by a multitude of strange creatures and reigning supreme among them are the fish. Helen Scales guides us on an underwater journey, as we fathom the depths and watch these animals going about the glorious business of being fish. The author encourages readers to think again about these animals and the seas they inhabit, and to go out and appreciate the wonders of fish, whether through the glass walls of an aquarium or, better still, by gazing into the fishes’ wild world and swimming through it.
Please join us in the barn for a complementary drink after this event.