Peter Florence

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Peter Florence in Hay, 2018

Peter Kenrick Florence,[1] CBE FRSL (born 4 October 1964), is a British festival director, most notable for founding the Hay Festival with his father and mother, Norman Florence and Rhoda Florence, funding the first festival with winnings from a poker game.[2]

Education and career[edit]

Peter Florence was educated at Ipswich School, Jesus College, Cambridge, and the University of Paris and has an MA in Modern and Medieval Literatures. He holds honorary doctorates from The Open University, Queen Mary University of London, Worcester University[3] and The University of Glamorgan, and is a Fellow of Hereford College of Arts, The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and the British-American Project, and an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University and of Cardiff University.

He was made a "Colombiano de Corazon" by President Álvaro Uribe for his work in Colombia.

As well as the Hay Festival, Florence founded similar festivals in Mantua, Segovia, the Alhambra Palace, Cartagena, Nairobi, Zacatecas, Thiruvananthapuram, Dhaka, Xalapa, Belfast and Paraty.

He is the co-editor of the Oxtales and Oxtravels anthologies with Mark Ellingham of Profile Books, in partnership with Oxfam. He is a Friend of Oxfam.

He has written for a number of publications including Index on Censorship,[4] The Guardian,[5] The Telegraph and The Spectator.

A number of his interviews with writers appear in the Hay Festival's 30th-anniversary book Hay Festival Conversations.

He is a trustee of the Baillie Gifford Prize. He is a member of the Board of The Deborah Rogers Foundation. He was a governor of Fairfield High School in Peterchurch, Herefordshire, and a trustee of Hay Castle Trust.

He is a member of the European Festivals Association EFFE Jury.[6]

He is an honorary fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.[7]

Florence chaired the jury of the 2019 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and controversially defied the foundation’s 1993-established rules to award the prize to two authors. Bernardine Evaristo - the first black woman to be awarded the prize - shared the prize with Margaret Atwood.

Personal life[edit]

Florence and his wife Becky Shaw have four sons. They live in Herefordshire.[8] He is cousin to Trevor Jones.


Florence was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to Arts and Culture.[9]

He was awarded a CBE in 2018 for services to Literature and Charity.[1]


  1. ^ a b "New Year's Honours 2018" (PDF). Government Digital Service. 29 December 2017. p. 15. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  2. ^ Channel 4 The Hay Festival 2006 from, retrieved 2007-01-26
  3. ^ University, Worcester. "Graduation News". Worcester University News. Worcester University. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  4. ^ Index. "Freedom of Speech". index on censorship. Index on Censorship. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  5. ^ The Guardian. "Guardian profile". The Guardian. Guardian Newspapers. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  6. ^ "EFA Jury". EFA Newsletter. EFA. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Ideas 2007: Creativity Beyond Borders: Peter Florence Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2007-01-26
  9. ^ "Brecon and Radnoe".

External links[edit]