Get booked in at the Essex Book Festival

PUBLISHED: 10:05 03 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:05 03 March 2014




Now one of the largest literary festivals in the UK, the Essex Book Festival celebrates its 16th year in 2014. From a wicked sense of humour through to a penchant 
for crime, the character of the festival brings together a highly entertaining mix of authors, including big name appearances from Joanna Trollope, Rageh Omaar, Terry Waite and Ann Widdecombe, among many others.

The book festival is offering an inspiring programme of literary events, writers’ workshops, a book art fair and a large dose of entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

The first page of the festival is turned by best-selling author Joanne Trollope, who will be officially launching the festival by talking to BBC Essex’s Dave Monk about her new book, Balancing Act, at the University of Essex on March 3. Colchester’s podcast duo, Kate Neilan and Rob Chilver, will talk Victorian history with acclaimed historical authors Essie Fox and Wendy Wallace on March 5 at The Waiting Room in Colchester.

There are many historic delights through the festival including Sunday Times best-selling author Adele Parks at Rayleigh Library on March 4 talking about her new novel, Spare Brides, a powerful story of four women left to pick up the pieces after World World I. University of Essex Professor Philip Terry discusses his new novel on March 3, which retells the story of the Norman Conquest through the eyes of the English nuns who embroidered the Bayeux Tapestry. On March 5 at Colchester Library learn more about Millie, a nurse and midwife whose jubilation at the end of the war in 1945 is short-lived as she tends to the needs of the East End community in All Change for Nurse Millie, written by author Jean Fullerton.

From politics to crime, Ann Widdecome shares with characteristic verve and integrity from her autobiography, Strictly Ann, on March 22 at University Centre Harlow. Essex writer and critic Mike Ripley discusses his connection to Margery Allingham and his new book, Mr Campion’s Farewell at Great Baddow Library on March 10. Expect plenty of laughs from prolific crime author Simon Brett, who will be appearing at Halstead Library on March 12 and on March 17 at Canvey Library, Barbara Nadel and Anya Lipska share their inspirations for their crime fiction, where wannabe crime writers can get top tips from experts Claire McGowan and Julia Crouch in their workshop, How to Plot the Perfect Murder, at University Centre Harlow on March 29.

As ever, the Essex Book Festival also excels at finding the quirky, the unusual, the distinctive and the new. 
On March 7, at Lion Walk United Reformed Church in Colchester, world expert in animal behaviour John Bradshaw, who led the experiment on BBC TV’S Horizon: The Secret Life of the Cat, will deliver a scientific portrait of the truely surprising nature of cats and how we can understand them better. Essex authors Syd Moore and Daryl Easlea present a selection of banned books and the bizarre and controversial reasons behind their censure on March 20 in Southend and Evie Wyld, one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 2013, will talk about her novel All The Birds, Singing at West Mersea Library on March 26. There is also the fascinating story of what became of the nation’s pets during World War II, hosted by Claire and Christy Campell at Great Pardon Library in Harlow on March 28.

You can get involved in Writers’ Day on March 8 at Anglia Ruskin University, with a chance to meet a top literary agent, learn about writing in the digital age and discover if there really is a book in you.

Younger readers have a wonderful range of events to choose from during the festival. Beast Quest fans can take part in interactive puzzles and tournaments, budding editors can have a go at editing with Miles Kelly Publishing and those who like mischief can choose whether Dennis the Menace or Horrid Henry should be crowned King of the Bad Boys.

Elsewhere, Secrets of the Henna Girl author, Suifya Ahmed, will be discussing her latest book at Stewards Academy on March 4 or catch one of the best-loved sports journalists, Henry Blofeld, for some delightfully idiosyncratic observations at Layer Marney Tower on March 13. Also, join TV correspondent Rageh Omaar as he talks about his unique vantage point on world events at Chelmsford Library on March 14.

Jazz lovers will enjoy Peter Vacher as he discusses the pleasures and perils of interviewing jazz musicians on March 15 at Loughton Library, while Terry Waite CBE recounts humorous tales from his time travelling with the late Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, at Anglia Ruskin University on March 27.

Whether you’re an avid reader, a collector of books or a would-be novelist, the Essex Book Festival 2014 is ready to make an impression on you with events taking place from Great Dunmow to Loughton and West Mersea to Hadleigh. Just get involved to be educated and surprised.

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