In the 1960s, Richard Booth had an idea: turn his small hometown of Hay-on-Wye in Wales into an international attraction by filling it with bookshops. (A bibliophile's dream!) He opened his first second-hand bookstore in an old movie house in 1961, and it was such a success that other residents took his lead and began opening their own shops. Over the years, when a business closed in Hay the space was often converted into a bookshop and the town slowly became filled with bookstores. Converting the businesses in this manner left a number of bookshops in unusual locations, like an old hair salon, a fire hall, a hardware store, and even a castle. Part of Mr. Booth's dream for Hay was to have a number of small specialist bookshops, a goal that has been realized with stores like the Poetry Bookshop, which focuses entirely on- you guessed it- poetry; Outcast Books, which specializes in applied social sciences, psychology, and psychotherapy; Murder and Mayhem, a shop filled with crime fiction; and C. Arden Bookseller, a "Natural History and Gardening Bookshop". Today, Hay is home to approximately 1,300 people and boasts a whopping 30 bookshops. Its reputation as the "Town of Books" grew along with every bookshop that opened and in 1988 Hay appropriately launched a book festival, the Hay Festival of Literature & the Arts. This year's festival will take place from May 31-June 10 and will feature readings, workshops, book signings, and "endless entertainment". The Hay Festival has attracted many influential writers and speakers in the past and this year is no exception. Just a few of this year's highlights:
Ian Robertson will discuss his new book, The Winner Effect: How power affects your brain; award-winning travel writer Lucinda Dickens Hawksley will present an intimate portrait of her great-great-great-grandfather Charles Dickens illustrated with personal memorabilia; and conductor Simon Rattle talks with author Tom Service about his book Music As Alchemy: Journeys With Great Conductors and Their Orchestras. Other authors scheduled to attend include David Grossman, Ian McEwan, Hilary Mantel, and Jacqueline Wilson.