A History of Happiness

Mon 13 July 2020

A History of Happiness

It is with great regret that for the first time in forty years we must cancel the Buxton International Festival in July 2020. This is an enormous disappointment but the health and well-being of our audience, our volunteers, the BIF team and all the artists involved is of primary concern. By taking this difficult decision now we are safeguarding the Festival for the Future. Read our full statement here.

Please save the dates for next year’s Festival taking place 2 – 18 July 2021.


Sarah Bakewell, Mike Jay and Peter Moore

What does it mean to be happy? How do we attain this state of mind? Why does happiness seem so elusive in the early twenty-first century when we live in a society of such abundance?

In this ‘guest edit’ by bestselling historian Peter Moore, he is joined for a conversation about the history of happiness by two of Britain’s finest thinkers. Sarah Bakewell is the prize-winning author of How To Live, a biographical study of Michel de Montaigne, and At the Existential Café, an analysis of the philosophical movement led by Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Mike Jay is the author of many critically acclaimed books on the history of science and medicine, most recently Mescaline: a global history of the first psychedelic. In 2017 he co-curated the Wellcome Trust’s exhibition Bedlam: the asylum and beyond, which examined the history of mental health.