Audio recordings of some of our talks from previous festivals, released throughout the years.

PAVLOVA: Twentieth Century Ballerina

Recording from Jane Pritchard and Anya Sainsbury’s talk, ‘Pavlova: 20th Century Ballerina’, for CVHF 2013, Sunday 30th June 2013.

Anna Pavlova was one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history. The daughter of
a laundress, she rose to become the principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. With a style that paid little heed to academic rules, she is perhaps most renowned for creating the role of The Dying Swan. Here, Jane Pritchard, Curator of Dance at the V & A and Anya Sainsbury, a former principal ballerina (as Anya Linden) at the Royal Ballet discuss why Pavlova was important for the development of ballet in the west, her pioneering role and impact on the progress of dance in Britain.

CRUEL CROSSING: Escaping Hitler Across The Pyrenees

Audio from Chalke Valley History Festival, Monday 24th June 2013.

They came from all over France and Europe to escape Hitler’s reach. The mountain paths
were steep and treacherous…even more so in winter or in the dead of night. Some came through established escape channels, others just took to the road, hiding in barns and attics along the way. Many did not make it. Today, their courage and endurance are celebrated each July by a trek along Le Chemin de Liberté, and the intrepid Edward Stourton hauled on his knapsack to join them. Along the way, he encountered stories of midnight scrambles across rooftops, doomed love affairs and astonishing heroism. In this vivid telling of this little- known aspect of the Second World War, Edward Stourton gave an enthralling talk of adventure, courage and also tragedy.

The Lady In The Tower: The fall of Anne Boleyn

Recording from Anne Weir’s talk “The Lady in the tower: the fall of Anne Boyleyn’, for CVHF 2013, Sunday 30th June 2013.

Anne Boleyn has a place in history as one of the most attractive, intriguing and bewitching queens to have occupied the English throne. So many questions remain unanswered. Did Henry VIII tell Cromwell to frame her so that he could marry Jane Seymour? Or was Anne, in fact, guilty as charged? Certainly, the speed of her downfall was impressive. On 2nd May 1536, she was sent to the Tower; on 15th May, she was tried and four days later she was dead. Alison Weir is one of our most popular historians and historical novelists, and brings her vast knowledge of the period to tell a story as scintillating as it is tragic.

The spy who loved

Recording from Claire Mulley’s talk “The spy who loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville, Britain’s First Female Special Agent of the Second World War’, for CVHF 2013, Saturday 29th June 2013.

The Great Escape – Guy Walters

Recording from Guy Walters’s talk “The Great Escape’, for CVHF 2013, Saturday 29th June 2013.

In March 1944, some 80 Allied prisoners of war tunnelled out of a maximum security POW camp in Lower Silesia. Immortalised fifty years ago in the film The Great Escape, the breakout from Stalag Luft III has become a vital – and almost mythological – component of our Second World War story. In his talk, Guy will take a fresh look at the escape, and ask a number of penetrating questions. What was the point of the Great Escape? Did it really open, as is often claimed, a new front within the German Reich? How many POWs actually wanted to escape? How well was it organised? Did RAF officers really have a duty to escape? How much help did the Germans supply? What was the character and motivation of Roger Bushell, the squadron leader who led the escape? And finally, was the Great Escape really all that great? Guy’s talk promises to be both thrilling and controversial as he strips away the myth to uncover the reality.