Stormzy to celebrate five years of #Merky Books at Hay Festival

The line-up includes Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E Grant, Dua Lipa, Dame Mary Berry, Simon Armitage, Dame Prue Leith, Tom Allen and Dara O'Briain.

Stormzy has been announced as part of the star-studded line-up at the 2023 Hay Festival in Wales.

The 29-year-old singer and rapper will celebrate five years since launching his own publishing imprint #Merky Books, a collaboration with Penguin Random House, with a “special event” during the festival.

The 36th edition of the literary event in Hay-on-Wye will take place from May 25 to June 4, with more than 500 in-person events set to take place over 11 days across eight stages in the festival village.

The Brit Awards 2023 – Show – London
Stormzy performing during the Brit Awards 2023 at the O2 Arena, London (Ian West/PA)

Stormzy said: “It all started with books for me. As a kid in school, I fell in love with literature and it sparked a life-long journey with words and writing, which led into my career as a songwriter and a musician.

“I’m really excited to pass on this passion at Hay Festival, celebrate our incredible #Merky Books writers, and inspire the next generation of storytellers. Can’t wait to see you guys there!”

The music, comedy and spoken word event will feature a performance from Helena Bonham Carter and Sir Tony Robinson to celebrate Shakespeare For Every Day Of The Year, marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Meanwhile, processing grief is the focus of a series of important conversations on the festival stages with Richard E Grant on his book A Pocketful of Happiness.

British artist Tracey Emin will discuss her life and work while TV star Susie Dent shares her book An Emotional Dictionary and leading poets and performers including Simon Armitage share new work and old favourites.

Flying Scotsman anniversary
Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (Andrew Milligan/PA)

There will also be discussion with Dame Mary Berry about her Baking Bible book, Dame Prue Leith on her book Nothing In Moderation and Andi Oliver, The Pepperpot Diaries: Stories From My Caribbean Table.

Organisers have also arranged events to “inspire the next generation of readers and writers” with appearances from author Jacqueline Wilson, comedian and writer David Walliams and JLS singer JB Gill.

Julia Donaldson, best known for her children’s books illustrated by Axel Scheffler which include The Gruffalo, will also appear at the festival celebrating 30 years of A Squash And A Squeeze.

Journalist Dolly Alderton will share advice and stories from her agony aunt column Dear Dolly with Dancing On Ice’s Oti Mabuse, who will later perform Oti: The Lion Samba.

Leading travel and nature writers will celebrate the natural world in conversations including with adventurer Bear Grylls, woodsman Ray Mears and TV vet Noel Fitzpatrick.

World premiere of Explorer – London
Bear Grylls (Ian West/PA)

Ukraine’s biggest book festival, Lviv BookForum, will also come to Wales, co-curating events throughout the festival to shine a light on Ukrainian storytelling and the state of current Ukraine.

There will also be a book contest highlighting literature in partnership with the European Song Contest as the international competition gets set to sweep the UK in May.

Meanwhile, BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet will give the Christopher Hitchens Lecture.

Previously announced appearances include chart-topping popstar Dua Lipa who will present a live recording of her podcast, and The Handmaid’s Tale writer Margaret Atwood will tell the audience about her short story collection, Old Babes In The Wood.

Two-time Booker prize winner Atwood will also join forces with novelists Elif Shafak and Douglas Stuart to mark the launch of Sir Salman Rushdie’s Victory City.

The Testaments released
Margaret Atwood (Ian West/PA)

Sir Michael Parkinson will share his sports writing in My Sporting Life: Memories, Moments And Declarations and Sue Barker will talk about her autobiography Calling The Shots.

Philosopher AC Grayling, broadcaster Jon Snow, journalist Misha Glenny and historian David Olusoga are also some of the previously announced authors.

Meanwhile, late nights at Hay Festival will include music, comedy and entertainment including Scottish rock duo The Proclaimers, of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) fame, and comedians Dara O’Briain and Tom Allen.

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “This Hay Festival edition is a beacon, an international symbol of hope for the collective, creative imagination and a better future.

“Our latest programme offers ‘11 days of different’ in the Brecon Beacons National Park, creating a space where great minds won’t always think alike, and where imaginations are free to roam.

“During the day our conversations will grapple and engage with the world around us, seeking solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our times while inspiring the next generation of world-changers.

“And in the evening we’ll laugh, dance and exchange stories in a place like nowhere else. Join us.”

Tickets are on sale now to Friends of Hay Festival and public booking will open at 12pm on Friday March 17.