University of Worcester Academics Share Expertise at the World-Renowned Hay Festival

Hay Festival 2021 poster for web

The Festival programme was released today (April 20) with a host of fascinating talks and workshops, including two talks held in partnership with the University, exploring sustainability and the transatlantic slave trade.

Professor Suzanne Schwarz, from the School of Humanities, will be discussing her work with the British Library, tracing the lives of individuals affected by the transatlantic slave trade, in a talk to be broadcast on Friday, May 28 at 1pm.

The talk, titled ‘Reconstructing the Life Histories of Enslaved Africans: Sierra Leone in the Nineteenth Century’ draws on rare biographical evidence about tens of thousands of Africans released from slave ships by Royal Navy patrols, which are held in the Sierra Leone Public Archives. The British Library Endangered Archives Programme has made it possible to digitise hundreds of volumes containing fragmentary information on their lives.

In this lecture, Professor Schwarz discusses how her research draws on evidence from the Freetown archives to reconstruct the identities of individuals uprooted and displaced by the transatlantic slave trade. For example, Adam, a woman aged 26, was among the enslaved Africans stowed on board the Marie Paul in 1808. Anta, her nine-month old daughter, was also on board the French schooner when it set sail from Senegal on 20 August 1808 ‘with a cargo of slaves bound to Cayenne in South America’.

On Tuesday, June 1, Dr Duncan Westbury, from the School of Science and the Environment, will deliver a fascinating talk titled ‘Gardening for Wildlife and Sustainable Food Production’.

Whether you have green fingers or not, the role of wildlife in supporting the sustainable production of food in our gardens and the wider countryside is crucial. Dr Westbury will cover the issues faced and how such problems can be resolved through measures to boost wild pollinators and natural enemies of crop pests. “Knowing what to do and when is key,” he said.

The Hay Festival will run from Wednesday, May 26 until Sunday, June 6 and talks will be available to view live at