Books, bliss and bosky lanes

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The Independent Culture
This year's Hay Festival, sponsored once again by the Independent, features a more than usually eclectic mix of writers, musicians, artists, performers and transmedial personalities. Over 10 summer days from 26 May to 4 June, more than a hundred events will be staged in the Festival Grounds, located in the middle of this lovely, book-crammed market town in the heart of the Wye Valley. Visitors will enjoy browsing in the town's 28 second-hand bookshops, rubbing shoulders with eminent writers from around the globe, motoring through the bosky lanes of Herefordshire and listening to the deliberations of the world's finest creative talents on the state of the art of writing

The History Men

Simon Schama discusses the significance of landscape, Eric Hobsbawm gives the Raymond Williams lecture on Twentieth Century extremism, and Balkans expert Sir Fitzroy Maclean talks about Yugoslavia in war and peacetime

The Fiction List

A head-spinning line-up of star novelists include David Lodge, Beryl Bainbridge, Iain Banks, Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford, Mark Lawson, Laurie Lee, Malcolm Bradbury, William Boyd, Philip Kerr, Nina Bawden, Michle Roberts, Hanif Kureishi, Penelope Fitzgerald, Patrick McCabe, Antony Sher, Russell Celyn Jones, Sebastian Faulks, Nick Hornby, Nigel Williams, Fay Weldon and the South African Nobel laureate, Nadine Gordimer

The Parnassians

This year's Poetry Squantum will be convened by the magnificent Australian poet Les A Murray. Elsewhere, leading practitioners such as Glyn Maxwell, Peter Reading and Mick Imlah will read from their recent work

The Life Writers

Discussing the ethics and revelations of modern biographical writing will be Ken Russell, Brenda Maddox, Fiona McCarthy, Jon Stallworthy, Margaret Drabble, John Keane and Claire Tomalin

The Scientists

Sir Fred Hoyle and Richard Dawkins, two of the world's leading thinkers in the realms of cosmology and genetics discuss the significance of the most recent discoveries, observations and wild speculations

The Politicos

Fresh from the Palace of Westminster to the Palace of Art come Roy Hattersley (talking to John Cole about his memoirs), Paddy Ashdown (talking to Sir Peter de la Billire) and Enoch Powell (on his interpretation of the Gospels), together with Michael (House of Cards) Dobbs and Susan Crosland

The Entertainers

Each evening, a line-up of the best cabaret acts in the land - Fascinating Aida, Ken Dodd the tickling-stick veteran, Sean Hughes the hyperactive Irish droll, Harry Hill the Perrier Award winner with the pocket of clip- on biros, and Jools Holland, the piano man supreme - will offer anarchic and extra- literary bliss for audiences sated with bookish endeavour

Plus - Iris Murdoch and John Bayley discussing "What makes a classic?", sagebrush superstars Hank Wangford and Kinky Friedman, the former hostages Terry Waite and Brian Keenan, Film `95 presenter and novelist Barry Norman, a celebration of Agatha Christie, a valuation of rare and collectable children's books, the sopranos Rebecca Evans and Eldrydd Cynan Jones, new music from Barrington Pheloung, the peripatetic life of Ffyona Campbell . . . and several glasses of cold wine, as you sit on the grass and watch the literati go by

For further information, send a stamped addressed envelope to: Festival Box Office (Independent), Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5BX; telephone: 01497 821299; fax 01497 821066