Idler Festival

Jarvis Cocker is a musician, broadcaster and writer. He formed the band Pulp in 1978 whilst at secondary school. They went on to become one of the most successful UK groups of the 1990s. Between 2009 & 2017 he presented the BBC 6Music programme “Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service”. His lyric collection Mother, Brother, Lover was published in 2011. He will be in conversation with Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson about his new book, Good Pop, Bad Pop: An Inventory.

Sally Phillips is a writer and actress known for her roles in Smack the PonyMiranda, Alan Partridge, Veep and The Green Wing, and Bridget Jones. In 2017 Sally was a contestant on outrageously-funny Taskmaster, a guest on Channel 4’s Travel Man and in early 2018 she had a recurring role on Sky’s Trollied. Sally has taken the role of ‘curator’ for Radio 4’s Museum of Curiosity and starred in Tim Key’s Late Night Poetry. She will appear on a panel with Peter Fincham and John Lloyd about the past and future of telly.

Arthur Smith is a comedian, writer and broadcaster. His shows include stage plays An Evening with Gary Lineker, Live Bed Show, Sod as well as solo shows Arthur Smith’s Hamlet, Dante’s Inferno (my last hangover) and Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen. He does the VO for the hit TV show Money for Nothing and is the voice of Dave Spud’s dad in the cartoon Dave Spud. He is the author of My name is Daphne Fairfax and 100 things I meant to tell you. He also did an ad for Yakult once. At the festival Arthur will lead a surrealist walk round Fenton.

Margaret Drabble, D.B.E., is a novelist and critic. After a brief and inglorious career as an actress with the Royal Shakespeare Company, she published her first novel, A Summer Bird-Cage, in 1963. This was followed by eighteen others, including The Millstone (1965) The Pure Gold Baby (2013) and The Dark Flood Rises (2016). She edited the Oxford Companion to English Literature (1985) and wrote biographies of Arnold Bennett (1974) and Angus Wilson (1995). Margaret will be in conversation about her life and career.

Lauren Child arrived on the children’s book scene in 1999. She is the creator of many much-loved characters including Ruby Redfort, Charlie and Lola, Hubert Horatio and of course, Clarice Bean. Lauren won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 2000 for I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato and was announced as the tenth Waterstones Children’s Laureate in 2017. She will be Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson about creativity, art, and the importance of staring out the window.

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist whose work has been translated into 55 languages. Shafak’s latest novel The Island of Missing Trees was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Costa Book Award. Her previous books include 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, shortlisted for the Booker Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize, and The Forty Rules of Love, which was chosen by the BBC as one of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

Oliver Burkeman is the author of the New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller Four Thousand Weeks, along with The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking and Help! How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done. For many years he wrote a popular column for the Guardian, ‘This Column Will Change Your Life’. He will be in conversation with Mark Vernon about his new book and embracing limits.

Glen Baxter studied at Leeds College of Art. He has produced numerous books, including Almost Completely Baxter: New and Selected Blurtings; The Billiard Table Murders; and Blizzards of Tweed. Exhibitions of his drawings and paintings have been held in New York, Paris, San Francisco, London, Munich, Tokyo, and Sydney. His work is in the collections of the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, among others. Glen will be discussing his work and process, and there’ll be a small exhibition of his drawings in the house.

Akash Kapur is the author of India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India, which was a New Yorker and New Republic Book of the Year. His new book, Better To Have Gone: Love, Death and the Quest for Utopia, was chosen as a book of the year by the New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, the New Statesman, Idler, and Open magazine. Akash will be talking to historian William Dalrymple about his childhood in the intentional community of Auroville, in South India, and the nobility and pitfalls of the age-old quest for utopia. 

Gavin Turk is a British-born, international artist. He has pioneered many forms of contemporary British sculpture now taken for granted, including the painted bronze, the waxwork, the recycled art-historical icon, and the use of rubbish in art. Prestel published Turk’s first major monograph in 2013, showcasing more than two decades of his work, and in 2014 Trolley Books published This Is Not A Book About Gavin Turk. Gavin has recently been commissioned to make several public sculptures including Nail, a 12-meter sculpture at One New Change, next to St Paul’s Cathedral.

William Dalrymple is the bestselling author of the Wolfson Prize-winning White Mughals, The Last Mughal, which won the Duff Cooper Prize, and the Hemingway and Kapucinski Prize-winning Return of a King. At the Idler Festival he will be talking about his most recent book, The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company, which was long listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2019, a Times History Book of the Year, and one of Barack Obama’s Best Books of 2019. He is also a founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Hannah Dawson A Drink with the Idler

Hannah Dawson is Senior Lecturer in the History of Political Thought at King’s College London. She read hundreds of thousands of words to whittle down to the sublime selection represented in The Penguin Book of Feminist Writing, a global anthology of feminist writers, edited and introduced by a major new essay by Hannah. Her previous book was Life Lessons from Hobbes. She’ll be talking to Amelia Horgan about the radical life and legacy of feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft.

Charles Hazlewood is an award-winning conductor and the founder and artistic director of Paraorchestra, the world’s first professional ensemble of disabled musicians. His repertoire encompasses Beethoven, Bruckner and Barry White and he conducted the first orchestral headline performance at Glastonbury. Paraorchestra reached a global audience at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympics. He will lead a mass singalong of Idler favourites old and new to close the festival.

Fräulein is a post-punk band from Bristol. Joni Samuels and Karsten van der Tol used the pandemic as an opportunity to develop their unique, raucous sound. In 2021 the duo joined tastemaker label Practise Music and released their first three singles. Fräulein play cathartic 90s flavoured alt-rock influenced by the likes of The Breeders, PJ Harvey and Big Thief that also incorporates cavernous grooves, intricate melodies and sharply observational lyrics. Their debut EP A Small Taste comes out in May this year. Fräulein will headline the after party.

Daisy Buchanan is an award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster. She’ll be talking to Rowan Pelling about her new novel Careering, which explores the often toxic relationship working women have with their dream jobs. She has written for every major newspaper and magazine in the UK, from the Guardian to Grazia. She is a TEDx speaker, and she hosts the chart-topping podcast You’re Booked. Her other books include the nonfiction titles How To Be A Grown Up and The Sisterhood, and the novel Insatiable: A Love Story For Greedy Girls.

Ben Moor is a writer, actor, and performer. ’s credits include The Queen’s Gambit, The IT Crowd and A Monster Calls. He is the creator of the BBC Radio series Elastic Planet and Undone, and the author of More Trees to Climb. He will perform Who Here’s Lost?, a story about what we value as we go along, and how we present it to others; it’s a mind-expanding, heart-warming roadtrip of the soul which takes turns that are funny, cryptic, beautiful, and wise.

Lea Ypi is Professor of Political Theory at LSE. She’ll be talking to Rowan Pelling about Free: Coming of Age at the End of History, a memoir about growing up in communist Albania. She has degrees in Philosophy and in Literature from the University of Rome La Sapienza, a PhD from the European University Institute. Her work has been recognised with several prizes such as the British Academy Prize for Excellence in Political Science and the Leverhulme Prize for Outstanding Research Achievement. She speaks six languages and lives in London.

Guy Standing has a PhD in Economics from the University of Cambridge. He is currently a professorial research associate at SOAS. In 1986 he co-founded the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) and now serves as its honorary co-President. He has been invited to speak on the precariat and basic income in over 350 locations since his bestselling book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class was first published in 2011. He lives in Switzerland. At the Idler Festival Guy will speak about his latest book, The Blue Commons.

Lucy Cooke is an award-winning broadcaster and documentary filmmaker with a Masters in Zoology from the University of Oxford. She has presented primetime series for BBC, ITV and National Geographic and is a regular on Radio 4. She is the author of two previous books, A Little Book of Sloth, which was a New York Times bestseller and The Unexpected Truth about Animals, which has been translated into 17 languages. She’ll be talking about her new book, Bitch: A Revolutionary Guide.

Dr David Bramwell is a performer, author and award-winning broadcaster for BBC Radio 3 and 4. His most popular books and monologues are The No9 Bus to Utopia, The Haunted Moustache and The Cult of Water. His latest podcast series is Adventures in Nutopia, exploring big ideas with humour and passion. In the fine tradition of Dr Suess and Dr. Robert he is a medical charlatan but does look good in a white lab coat. At the festival, David will take an entertaining journey through the winter landscape of his favourite children’s book, Moominland Midwinter.

John Lloyd founded QI. He produced Not The Nine O’Clock News and Blackadder and the first three series of Spitting Image. In the late 80s, he presented LWT’s South of Watford and chaired the pilot of HIGNFY. He brought The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to TV but wasn’t allowed to produce it and was fired from his most commercial idea, Mr Bean. He will appear on a panel with Sally Phillips and Peter Fincham.

Sarah Jaffe is the author of Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted and Alone and Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt, both from Bold Type Books. Her journalism has appeared in The New York TimesThe Nation, the Guardian, the Washington PostThe New Republic, the Atlantic, and many other publications. She will be talking about the future of work.

Crispin Hunt is a songwriter, campaigner and former Chair of The Ivors Academy. He is also the former frontman of Britpop band Longpigs. He is a renowned multi-platinum-selling songwriter and producer, having worked with artists including Jake Bugg, Florence and The Machine, Lana Del Ray, Ellie Goulding, Rod Stewart and more. Crispin will be in conversation with music critic Will Hodgkinson about how to make streaming work for musicians.

Virginia Ironside has been an agony aunt of over forty years – first for Woman magazine, then the Sunday Mirror, Today, the Sunday Post and then the Independent for 20 years, ending up, now, with the Oldie and the Idler. In the 60s Virginia was the rock columnist at the Daily Mail. She’s also written and published over 20 books. Around fifteen years ago she took to the stage with Growing Old Disgracefully, a kind of grannie-stand-up which she took to Edinburgh three years running and then toured for ten years.

David Wengrow is a professor of in comparative archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and has been a visiting professor at New York University. He is the author of three books, including What Makes Civilization? and The Dawn of Everything, co-written with the late anthropologist David Graeber. Wengrow conducts archaeological fieldwork in various parts of Africa and the Middle East. He will be discussing The Dawn of Everything with Mark Vernon.

Kate Devlin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. Devlin’s research is in the fields of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Kate has become a driving force in the field of intimacy and technology, running the UK’s first sex tech hackathon in 2016 and a follow-up in 2017. In short, she has become the face of sex robots – quite literally in the case of one mis-captioned tabloid photograph. Her 2018 book, Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots, was praised for its writing and wit.

Louis Eliot is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, of Kinky Machine and Rialto fame. He currently performs with his own band, The Embers, and with Grace Jones. At the Idler Festival he will play an acoustic solo set in the orchard.

As Managing Director of Talk Back, Peter Fincham executive produced many of their biggest shows including The Day Today, Brass Eye, I’m Alan Partridge, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Smack The Pony, and Da Ali G Show. In 2005 Peter became Controller of BBC One and in 2008, Director of Television at ITV where he remained until 2016. In 2017 along with Tim Hincks, Peter launched Expectation, a multi genre independent production company. He will appear on a panel with John Lloyd and Sally Phillips.

Rowan Pelling is a writer, broadcaster and editor of Perspective magazine. She was editor of The Erotic Review for eight years and started a new magazine The Amorist, which ran to seven print editions and now exists as a website. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and recently guest curated Sotheby’s first two sales of erotic art.

Nell Hudson is a professional actor, graduating from the Oxford School of Drama in 2012. She is best known for her recurring roles as Laoghaire in the international TV series Outlander and Nancy Skerrett in the ITV period drama Victoria. Just For Today is her first novel. She will be in conversation with Florence Read.

Seb Falk is a historian and lecturer at Cambridge University, whose research is focused on the scientific instruments of the Middle Ages. He is the author of The Light Ages. He specialises in the history of astronomy, navigation and mathematics – theories and technologies – from their ancient origins to modern developments. In 2016, he was named as one of the BBC’s New Generation Thinkers. Seb will be in conversation with Mary Wellesley and Tom Hodgkinson about creativity and craft in the medieval world.

Harry Mount is the editor of The Oldie magazine. A former New York correspondent and leader-writer for the Daily Telegraph, he is the author of Amo, Amas, Amat… and All That, a top 10 bestseller. He has also written A Lust for Window Sills: A Guide to British Buildings. He writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Times, and the Evening Standard. He has an MA in architectural history from the Courtauld Institute. Harry will be leading an architectural walk around Georgian Hampstead.

Cellist, singer, songwriter and Royal Academy of Music graduate Midori Jaeger paves her own intricate and intriguing soundworld with pizzicato cello riffs and serene vocals gliding through warm, groove-led songs. Her debut EP Look at Us is out now. She will be playing a solo set in the orchard.

Ella Berthoud is a bibliotherapist. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University, where she first started talking about bibliotherapy with Susan Elderkin. In 2007 they developed the idea in conjunction with The School of Life into what it is today: a one-to-one service taking place in person, or over the phone. Ella and Susan co-authored The Novel Cure: an A-Z of Literary Remedies and The Story Cure: How to Keep Kids Happy, Healthy and Wise. Ella has also written The Art of Mindful Reading: Embracing the Wisdom of Words.

Edward Chancellor is the author of Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation which was a New York Times Book of the Year. After reading history at Cambridge and Oxford, he worked for Lazard Brothers and until 2014 he was a senior member of the asset allocation team at GMO. He is currently a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. His latest book is The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest. He will be talking about the history of capitalism and interest at the festival.

Bridget Nicholls is a cultural entomologist. She created Pestival, an international festival about ‘the art of being an insect’. Bridget was the first International Art Fellow at the Zoological Society of London. The creator of Eco-entertainment, she has given insect and bat talks all over the world from the Lofoten Islands above the Arctic to the Bahamas. She was awarded a Top Female Explorer Award by the Explorers Club of New York in March 2022. She will lead an insect walk and talk through Fenton’s luscious gardens.

Dr Matthew Green is a historian, writer and broadcaster with a doctorate from Oxford University. He has appeared in documentaries on the BBC, ITV and Channel 5, and has written for the Guardian and Financial Times. He is the founder of Unreal City Audio, which produces immersive tours of London. He is the author of Shadowlands and London: A Travel Guide Through Time. He will be talking about Britain’s lost cities and his research for his new book, Shadowlands.

Mary Wellesley is a Research Affiliate at the British Library and the author of Hidden Hands: The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers. She gained a PhD from University College London in 2017. She has published academic articles and book chapters on Middle English literature and codicology. From January 2016 to March 2018 she worked in the department of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts at the British Library. Mary will be in conversation with Seb Falk and Tom Hodgkinson about medieval crafts.

Richard Hammond is a writer, filmmaker and founder of the award-winning travel website greentraveller.co.uk, which has been called ‘the leading British website for eco travel’ by The Times. He was previously The Guardian’s eco travel correspondent, Editor of Green Hotelier and Travel Editor of National Geographic GREEN. Richard has written several books on the subject of sustainable travel, including Green Places to Stay (Sawdays) and Clean Breaks: 500 New Ways to See the World (Rough Guides). His new book The Green Traveller is out now.

Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal was born in the Himalayan town of Palampur, India. She studied at St. Bede’s College, Shimla; Trinity College, Dublin; and Queen’s University, Belfast. Her poems have been translated into Arabic, German and Italian. In 2021, Makina Books published The Yak Dilemma, her first full-length collection. Supriya will be reading as part of the independent publisher showcase with Peninsula Press, Makina Books and Prototype Publishing.

Harry Venning is an award-winning cartoonist, illustrator and comedy writer. A weekly contributor to the Guardian with the Clare In The Community strip, his work has also appeared in The Mail On Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Independent, Sunday Times, The Stage and Radio Times. Harry is also a member of the exclusive Cartoonist Club of Great Britain with work displayed in the Cartoon Museum, London. At the festival, he will lead an entertaining workshop on releasing your inner cartoonist.

Bill Anderson is an urban beekeeper and educator based in London. He is the author of The Idle Beekeeper and writes the regular beekeeping column for the Idler magazine. His online Idle Beekeeping course is currently available from The Idler website. In the other 363 days he isn’t tending to his hives, Anderson is a television drama director, working on a huge variety of shows, including Dr. Who and Mr. Selfridge. Join Bill for a beekeeping workshop in the orchard at Fenton.

Will Hodgkinson is a journalist and author from London, England. He is the chief rock and pop critic for The Times. He has also written for the Guardian, the Independent and Vogue and is the author of the books Guitar Man, Song Man, The Ballad Of Britain and The House Is Full Of Yogis. He will be discussing how to fix streaming with Crispin Hunt.

Warszawa Wschodnia is an East Warsaw based ensemble that documents and performs Polish and Ukrainian traditional folk music. The group has performed at venues around Europe and the UK, including Café Oto and Magdalene College Chapel. Each performance draws the audience back to the ancient traditions of Ukraine and Poland. Now more than ever, these distinctive melodies stand in poignant defiance of attempts to wipe out these national cultures.

Clare Pollard is an award-winning poet and playwright based in London. She is the author of five poetry collections, non-fiction book Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children’s Picture Books and the Editor of the Modern Poetry in Translation magazine. Delphi, her first novel, is coming out later this year. At the festival Clare will be running workshops on writing nonsense poetry.

John-Paul Flintoff is a writer, mostly. He’s published six books, including memoir, fiction and non-fiction (most recently A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech). He worked for several years as feature writer and editor on The Sunday Times and Financial Times. He is also an illustrator and theatrical improviser, and draws on those disciplines in his writing work. He’s also a veteran of group and one-to-one therapy, and believes that self-expression always feels risky.

Pop culture historian Travis Elborough’s books include Wish You Were Here: England on Sea, The Long-Player Goodbye, and A Walk in the Park. He recently wrote and presented the five-part series, The Rise and Fall of the Antique on Radio 4 and is a frequent contributor to the Guardian and Observer, among other newspapers and magazines. His latest book is Through the Looking Glasses, which he will be discussing at the Idler Festival.

Multi-instrumentalist Ed Hopwood plays harmonica, guitar, percussion and sings. His playing has taken him on tours of Sweden, Switzerland and Ireland, including a sellout headline show at Celtic Connections and Festival No.6. Ed also teaches harmonica at the Idler Academy in London, both live and online. At the festival he will be leading harmonica classes and playing a solo set.

Ioana Simion is a visual creative and arts facilitator, who believes creativity and play are essential for self-development. Ioana started Artizine UK in 2019, as a platform to connect communities together through art-making. She’s been collaborating with Barbican Centre, BFI Film Institute, Solent University, and others to facilitate workshops, inviting individuals to celebrate the joy of making. She’ll be running zine-making workshops at the festival.

Lucy Mercer’s poems have been published widely in magazines and anthologies, including The White Review, Poetry London, Poetry Review, Hotel, The Rialto, and Poetry Wales. She won The White Review‘s inaugural Poetry Prize. Lucy recently completed a PhD where she developed a speculative theory of emblems, and teaches creative writing at Goldsmiths. Emblem, her debut collection, is the Poetry Book Society’s Summer Choice for 2022. Lucy will read as part of the independent publisher showcase with Peninsula Press, Makina Books and Prototype Publishing.

Henry Eliot is the author of The Penguin Classics Book and the presenter of the podcast On the Road with Penguin Classics. He has organized various literary tours, including a recreation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a Lake Poets tour of Cumbria and a quest for the Holy Grail based on Malory’s Morte D’Arthur. He is also the author of Follow This Thread: A Maze Book to Get Lost In and Curiocity: An Alternative A to Z of London. Henry will lead a literary walk round Hampstead.

So Mayer is a writer, editor, and bookseller. Their most recent book is A Nazi Word for a Nazi Thing (Peninsula, 2020), along with two co-edited collections: Mothers of Invention, with Corinn Columpar (Wayne State UP, 2022); and Unreal Sex, with Adam Zmith (Cipher, 2021). They are currently working with Adam on his BBC Sounds podcast The Film We Can’t See, and with Silver Press on Space Crone, a collection of Ursula K. Le Guin’s feminist writings. They will be reading as part of the independent publisher showcase with Peninsula Press, Makina Books, and Prototype Publishing.

Amelia Horgan is a writer, researcher and the author of Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism (Pluto Press, 2021). She has written for various publications including Tribune, the Guardian and VICE. She will be discussing the radical life and legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft, and the future of feminism, with Hannah Dawson.

Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist and writer. His most recent books are Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey and A Secret History of Christianity. He is the Idler‘s resident philosopher and regular contributor to both A Drink with the Idler and the magazine. His studies began with a degree in physics, before two degrees in theology, followed by a PhD in philosophy – an academic journey that took him from the universities of Durham and Oxford to Warwick.

Forged from a background of analog guitar sovereignty, Thrill City offers visions of a dystopian future world where pleasure is revered.

Drums: Robbie Vom

Bass: Robber Byker

Guitar: Cobalt Stargazer

Vocal: Aiden Houston

Danny Wootton is a musician and artist who plays in the Sometimes and Forever Band. In the past he has played with Razorlight and Jesus Licks among others. He has been running the Idler Academy’s ukulele programme since March 2011. He will be leading ukulele workshops in the orchard.

Will Owen is a stand-up comedian and writer, based in London. As a stand-up, he has performed at legendary venues such as The Comedy Store, as well as finding success on the competition circuit, most recently having placed third in Bath New Comedian ‘22. He will be hosting the afterparty at Hampstead Jazz Club.