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THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book" and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by NIGEL BEALE it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other best practitioners on Robert Darnton's "communications circuit."

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Jul 16, 2020

Peter Florence is a British festival director,​​ notable for founding the Hay Festival with his​ parents, Norman and Rhoda Florence​. FYI t​he first festival ​was financed with winnings from a poker game.

Peter​ ​was educated at Ipswich School, Jesus College, Cambridge, and the University of Paris and has an MA in Modern and Medieval Literatures. He holds honorary doctorates from ​four universities​.

​He has replicated the success of Hay in numerous cities around the world, launching similar festivals in Mantua, Segovia, the Alhambra Palace, Cartagena, Nairobi, Zacatecas, Thiruvananthapuram, Dhaka, Xalapa, Belfast and Paraty.

He is the co-editor of the Oxtales and Oxtravels anthologies with Mark Ellingham of Profile Books, in partnership with Oxfam​ ​and has written for ​the​ Index on Censorship​, The Guardian​, The Telegraph​, The Spectator​ and numerous other publications.​

​"​Florence chaired the jury of the 2019 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and controversially defied the foundation’s 1993-established rules to award the prize to two authors. Bernardine Evaristo - the first black woman to be awarded the prize - shared the prize with Margaret Atwood​." ( unfortunately, I failed to ask him about this). ​

​He and his wife Becky Shaw have four sons. They live in Herefordshire. Peter was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to Arts and Culture​ and​ a CBE in 2018 for services to Literature and Charity​.
 
We met via Zoom to talk, among other things, about Hay's recent on-line, Covid-driven 2020 event and how Peter plans to capitalize on its enormous success, about what special ingredients are required to put on good festivals and interesting sessions, about the English language, party animals, translation, what makes Peter happy, and the titles of his favourite recent reads.