Tell me, oh muse... Pregnant with the thrill of storytelling, full of surprises, calm, jarring, momentous or direct, the first lines of a writer’s work take us to exactly where they want us to be. Whether this is at the beginning, the middle or the end of a story, a life, or an argument we are in their hands, and now have to trust them to take us on the journey. Come and meet our festival guests as they unfold their beginnings - five minutes of the stories, books, poetry and more that they are sharing at the Festival.
Supported by UNSW Sydney.
Tim Flannery (Australian)
Tim Flannery was Australian of the Year 2007, and Australia's Climate Commissioner 2011-2013. He is Chief Councillor and co-founder of the Climate Council. He has published over 30 books, including ecological histories of Europe, Australia and North America, and has discovered and named 30 species of living mammals mostly from Melanesia.
Peter Frankopan (International)
Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History at the University of Oxford, where he has been Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College since 2000. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Geographic Society, he is also President of the Royal Society of Asian Affairs. His books include The New Silk Roads: the Present and Future of the World, which won the Carical Prize for Social Sciences; and The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, that was a Sunday Times Book of the Decade, The New York Times Bestseller, #1 in China, India, UK and beyond, and named one of the 25 most important books translated into Chinese alongside Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby. It was described by the Berliner Zeitung as 'not only the most important history book in years, but the most important in decades.' One of World's 50 Top Thinkers (Prospect), he has been described as "the rockstar historian du jour" (Sunday Times) and the "first great historian of the 21st century" by Brazil's DCM magazine.
Claire O’Rourke (Australian)
Claire O'Rourke is an author and environmental advocate, and works as Co-Director of The Sunrise Project's Australia Energy Transformation Program. Claire also directs Climate Compass, an ongoing project to develop a deep understanding of Australians' attitudes, prospective behaviours and barriers to action on global warming. With 20 years' experience in journalism, communications and advocacy in Australia and around the world, Claire has held a number of leadership positions, including most recently at Amnesty International Australia and as National Director of community-led renewable energy advocacy organisation Solar Citizens.
Toby Walsh (Australian)
Toby Walsh is Chief Scientist of UNSW's new AI Institute. He is a strong advocate for limits to ensure AI improves our lives, having spoken at the UN, and to heads of state, parliamentary bodies, company boards and many others on this topic. This advocacy has led to him being ‘banned indefinitely’ from Russia. He was named on the international ‘Who's Who in AI’ list of influencers. His most recent book is Machines Behaving Badly: the morality of AI.
Anna Clark (Australian)
Anna Clark is a Professor of History at the University of Technology Sydney. She is the author of Making Australian History (Penguin, 2022) and has written extensively on history education, historiography and historical consciousness.