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The Good Life Experience


28 Mar, 2018



We are proud and excited to be helping the venerable publishing house Pan Macmillan celebrate it’s 175th anniversary at The Good Life Experience this September. We’ve invited some of our favourite new authors -those whose writing shares our ethos- and Macmillan will be staging a Good Life Experience Takeover of one of our main tents on the Saturday afternoon. Founded by Scottish brothers Daniel and Alexander Macmillan in London in 1843, Macmillan is now part of global publishing history but we love the fact that it was born, of all places, on the Isle of Arran; that’s almost the best bit. Alexander was renowned for gatherings, ‘home to all and sundry’, at which he hosted leading authors and thinkers to discuss the issues of the day. In 2018 Pan Macmillan continues this tradition by bringing authors and readers together to mark the anniversary.  

Sixty-six million years ago the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. Today, Dr. Steve Brusatte, one of the leading scientists of a new generation of dinosaur hunters, armed with cutting edge technology, is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs ruled the earth for 150 million years. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a hugely ambitious and engrossing story of how dinosaurs rose to dominate the planet, written by one of the world's leading palaeontologists. Using fossil clues that have been with state-of-the-art technology, Steve Brusatte traces these magnificent creatures from the Triassic period at the start of their evolution, through the Jurassic period, to their final catastrophic days in the Cretaceous and the legacy that they left behind.

Along the way, Brusatte introduces a cast of new dinosaur hunters and gives an insight into what being a palaeontologist is really like. He offers thrilling accounts of some of the most remarkable discoveries he has made, including primitive, human-size tyrannosaurs, monstrous carnivores even larger than a T. rex and feathered raptor dinosaurs from China buried in volcanic ash. At a time when Homo sapiens has existed for less than 200,000 years and we are already talking about planetary extinction, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a timely reminder of what humans can learn from the magnificent creatures who ruled the earth before us.

Come and hear from Isabella Tree, author of Wilding, a book about the re-wilding of land on the Knepp Estate, which Pan Macmillan publishes in May 2018. Forced to accept that intensive farming on their heavy clay soils at Knepp in West Sussex was driving them into the ground, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell took a spectacular leap of faith in 2000 and handed their 3,500 acres back to nature. With minimal human intervention, using herds of free-roaming animals to create dynamism and new habitats, their rewilded land is now heaving with life. Rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding at Knepp and biodiversity has rocketed. The project has become a leading light for conservation in the UK, demonstrating how a hands-off approach – letting nature take the driving seat - can restore land and wildlife in a dramatically short space of time, reversing the cataclysmic declines that have affected most species in Britain over the past five decades. The story of rewilding Knepp challenges conventional ideas about our past and present landscape, and points the way to a wilder, richer future – a countryside that benefits farming, nature and us. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of Britain’s rural ecology, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.

Join leading mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin on a personal journey through mental illness from childhood to adulthood, and a suicide attempt that changed his life forever. In 2008, twenty year-old Jonny Benjamin stood on Waterloo Bridge, about to jump. A stranger saw his distress and stopped to talk with him – a decision that saved Jonny's life. Fast forward to 2014 and Jonny, together with Rethink Mental Illness launch a campaign with a short video clip so that Jonny could finally thank that stranger who put him on the path to recovery. More than 319 million people around the world followed the search. ITV's breakfast shows picked up the story until the stranger, whose name is Neil Laybourn, was found and – in an emotional and touching moment – the pair re-united and have remained firm friends ever since. The Stranger on the Bridge is a memoir of the journey Jonny made both personally, and publicly to not only find the person who saved his life, but also to explore how he got to the bridge in the first place and how he continues to manage his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. Using extracts from diaries Jonny has been writing from the age of thirteen, the book is a deeply personal memoir with a unique insight on mental health. Jonny was recognised for his work as an influential activist changing the culture around mental health, when he was awarded an MBE in 2017. He and Neil now work full-time together visiting schools, hospitals, prisons and workplaces to help end the stigma by talking about mental health and suicide prevention.

Emma Farrarons is an illustrator and graphic designer based in South London. Born on the tropical island of Cebu in the Philippines, Emma grew up in Paris. She studied illustration at the Edinburgh College of Art and l'École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. Having completed a textile and printmaking course at Capellagården in Sweden, Emma has developed a particular love for the art of pattern repeat and fabric print. Her debut and bestselling book, The Mindfulness Colouring Book, has sold over a million copies and is available in 20 languages. For her new book in the series, Art of Mindfulness, Emma drew inspiration from nature. This included trips to Kew Gardens in London with her baby son, where she would capture interesting patterns and shapes with quick observational drawings while he slept. Also, the land, city and seascapes of Sandinavia on her many trips there.

Join illustrator and bestselling author Emma at The Good Life Experience for an interactive art workshop and draw, colour and create your way to peace and calm. Guided by Emma, choose from four activities including colouring, pattern repeats and hand lettering to learn how to make the most of art-making as a mindful activity. Share your creations using #mindfulnesscolouringbook. Emma will be signing copies of her new book, Art of Mindfulness, after the workshop.

Signe Johansen is a Norwegian cook and author of How to Hygge, Scandilicious, Scandilicious Baking and most recently Solo: The Joy of Cooking for One. A longtime whisky enthusiast, she is the co-founder of 'Spirited Women', a project to get more women into whisky and other spirits. Signe trained at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London, worked in several of the UK's top restaurants and went on to do her masters in the anthropology of food at SOAS Food Studies Centre at the University of London. She has appeared on Kirstie's Handmade Christmas, What's Cooking and Sunday Brunch. 


Main photo: Jim Marsden

A weekend of discovery + adventure, music, food, books + the great outdoors