5 Speakers, 15 Minutes Each - February 2024

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Join us at 5x15 in February to hear a stellar line-up speaking about fire, peace, friendship and hardy women.

Paula Byrne
Hardy Women

Paula Byrne is the author of the bestselling biographies The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym,Perdita, Mad World, The Real Jane Austen, Belle, Kick and The Genius of Jane Austen. She is founder and chief executive of ReLit, the Bibliotherapy Foundation, a charity devoted to the mental health benefits of reading. Her new book, Hardy Women, re-examines Thomas Hardy’s life through the eyes of the women who made him—mother, sisters, girlfriends, wives, muses. In this highly innovative work, Byrne reveals that it is through hardy women that we can enter into the heart of the great novelist and poet.

Jackie Morris

Jackie Morris is an award-winning British writer and illustrator. Morris studied at the Bath Academy of Art and started her career as an illustrator by working for magazines including Radio Times, New Statesman, New Society and Country Living. She has illustrated over 60 books, and is best known for the stunning The Lost Words (2017), co-written with Robert Macfarlane – a love song to many increasingly rare words pertaining to nature and the natural world. These illustrations earned Morris the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2019. Morris and Macfarlane’s second collaboration, The Lost Spells, was published in October 2020, and they are currently working on a third, The Book of Birds. Morris is nominated for the 2024 Andersen Award by the International Board of Books for Young People.

Cathy Newman
The Ladder

Cathy Newman is one of Channel 4 News' main studio presenters. She joined Channel 4 News as political correspondent in January 2006 after seven years writing for the Financial Times. Cathy is an award-winning investigative journalist whose scoops have included allegations of sexual harassment in Westminster, an investigation into a British paedophile who abused vulnerable boys in Kenya; and allegations of violent abuse by the British barrister John Smyth. She was the only broadcast journalist to travel with Angelina Jolie and the then foreign secretary William Hague to the Congo as part of their campaign against sexual violence. Cathy also hosts her own show on Times Radio, which has inspired her new book The Ladder, bringing together discussions between women – about work, love, growth, challenge, the big decisions and the stories of their lives.

Emma Tarlo
Under the Hornbeams

Emma Tarlo is an anthropologist, writer and curator and an Emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths, University of London. Having authored numerous highly regarded academic titles, she published her first trade title, the prize-winning Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair (Oneworld), to great acclaim in 2016. In her new book, Under the Hornbeams, Tarlo follows the seasons of a single year in Regent's Park, and discovers the precarious networks of giving and receiving that exist undetected in London’s streets. The result is a life-affirming story that pays homage to the power of human connection and upturns many of our preconceptions about home, family, work and community.

John Vaillant
Fire Weather

John Vaillant is the international bestselling author of The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival and The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed. He has written for, among others, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic and the Guardian. His latest book, Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World, is a page-turning account of a brutal urban wildfire, and a sweeping exploration of our rapidly changing relationship with fire. It won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2023.