HistFest: Digital

Join us for an afternoon of historical escapism

The festival took place on Friday 3rd April 2020, but don’t worry if you missed it. Create your own festival date and catch up with everything below.


Join us from the comfort of your own homes for a mini history festival! Speakers include Sir Michael Palin, Hallie Rubenhold, Wanda Wyporska, Greg Jenner and Sunny Singh, to name just a few. Topics covered include 19th century shipwrecks, the victims of Jack the Ripper, the history of celebrity, the Princes in the Tower and the history of sex and Bollywood film.

Rebecca Rideal, Festival Director: “We are thrilled to be able to offer those in lockdown an afternoon of historical escapism. There is no question that this has been a difficult time for those in the events and publishing industries and we hope to provide a small space for authors to reach audiences and for audiences to be entertained”.

Festival Programme

Sit back, relax and let HistFest take care of your afternoon via our YouTube channel.

The festival has been created on the hoof, so please forgive shaky videos and the occasional lapse in sound quality.

1pm: HistFest Lockdown! Rebecca Rideal introduces the festival.

1.10pm: The Five: Award-winning historian Hallie Rubenhold on the lives of Jack the Ripper’s Victims.

1.30pm: A History of Bollywood Film: Dr Sunny Singh gives a potted history of Bollywood film and Indian Cinema. Recorded by Viral History during HistFest 2018.

1.40pm: The Fall of the House of Byron: Emily Brand reveals how the Byron Dynasty scandalised the 18th century.

2pm: Dead Famous: Historian, author and Horrible Histories chief nerd Greg Jenner chats about his new book and his favourite historical figures.

2.40pm: Checkpoint Charlie: Author Iain McGregor explains how Checkpoint Charlie can offer lessons for today.

2.50pm: Art History with Ferren Gipson: Art historian Ferren Gipson offers a short history of ‘Happy family’ [xinfu de jiating], 1951, by Sheng Cijun.

3pm: The Princes in the Tower: Historian Nathen Amin explores one of English history’s greatest mysteries – the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. 

*BREAK – Get yourself some snacks, do your exercise, order some of the books*

4pm: Insurgent Empire: Academic and author Dr Priyamvada Gopal chats about the anticolonial insurgents who shaped the empire.

4.30pm: Dangerous Minds – Averroes: Dr Joanne Paul unravels the life, work and legacy of medieval Muslim polymath Averroes. Video via Viral History.

4.40pm: The Great Fire of London: Rebecca Rideal gives a history of the Great Fire of London. The talk is suitable for primary school children.

4.50pm: Museum From Home with Dan Vo: Award-winning LGBTQ tour guide Dan Vo reveals the uplifting story behind #MuseumFromHome.

5pm: Witchcraft: Historian and author Dr Wanda Wyporska gives a potted history of the early modern witch craze.

5.30pm: HMS Erebus with Sir Michael Palin: Sir Michael Palin speaks to Rebecca Rideal about the tragic history of HMS Erebus.

6pm: A Curious History of Sex: Food, menstruation and funny names. Sex historian Dr Kate Lister chats about the stories that fill her fantastic new book, A Curious History of Sex.

Everything is free to view. Should you wish to donate to our GoFundMe page, we would be extremely grateful.