John Vaillant & Robert Macfarlane | Fire Weather

Mon 27 May 2024 | 6:00pm - 7:00pm

John Vaillant & Robert MacFarlane
Fire Weather John Vaillant

Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction Winner 2o23, John Vaillant

For hundreds of millennia, fire has been a partner in our evolution, shaping culture and civilization. Yet in our age of intensifying climate change, we are seeing its destructive power unleashed in ways never before witnessed by human beings.

In May 2016, Fort McMurray, Alberta, the hub of Canada’s oil industry, was overrun by wildfire. The multi-billion-dollar disaster turned entire neighbourhoods into firebombs and drove 90,000 people from their homes in a single afternoon. Through the story of this apocalyptic conflagration, John Vaillant explores the past and the future of our ever-hotter, more flammable world.

Join award-winning writer John Vaillant for an enlightening conversation with nature writer Robert Macfarlane. They’ll tell the remarkable story of Fort McMurray, a brutal urban wildfire, and explore of our rapidly changing relationship with fire within the urgent midst of climate crisis.


Venue: Cambridge Union

Duration: 1 hour

Choose your tickets:

In-person tickets:
Cambridge Union
  John Vaillant & Robert Macfarlane | Fire Weather Full Price
6pm | 27 May | Cambridge Union
  John Vaillant & Robert Macfarlane | Fire Weather Concession (U25s, unwaged, and those feeling the pinch)
6pm | 27 May | Cambridge Union
    Total: £0
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Author Biography

John Vaillant‘s first book, The Golden Spruce, won the Canadian Governor General’s Award for non-fiction. He has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Outside, National Geographic and Men’s Journal, among other publications. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife and children.

Chair Biography

Robert Macfarlane is an author and academic. He regularly writes for publications including the Guardian and the Times. His writing often blurs ideas of genre and form and he regularly collaborates with artists, film-makers, photographers and musicians. His first book, Mountains of the Mind won the Guardian First Book Award and the Somerset Maugham Award. His other works include, The Old WaysLandmarks as well as The Lost Words and The Lost Spells, children’s books of nature spells created in partnership with artist Jackie Morris. His most recent book was Underlands (2019). Robert a Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and an Honorary Patron of the festival.