Students Staff

23 December 2011

Essex Book Festival 2012 line up announced

Acclaimed international, national and local novelists, poets and writers will all be taking part in the 2012 Essex Book Festival.

Held throughout March, there are more than 70 events and activities planned across the county – from Epping to Harwich.

Regular visitors to Essex Book Festival events may notice exciting changes this year.

After 12 successful years as part of Essex County Council Library Services, Essex Book Festival has taken a new direction. With support from the Arts Council, England, Essex County Council and the University of Essex, it has become a registered charity and is overseen by a board of trustees, all with a shared love of Essex and literature.

Chairman of the new Essex Book Festival board, Seona Ford, said: ‘We hope to continue the tradition of celebrating literature in Essex that has been set over the past 12 years.

‘The 2012 programme brings the usual eclectic mix of bestselling authors and exciting talent that Festival audiences have come to expect, and there are some great new additions along the way.

‘Whether you are new to the Festival or one of its many loyal friends, we hope that everyone will find an event to inform, inspire, or to just sit back and enjoy.’

New for this year is a series of events for children held in collaboration with the Just Imagine Story Centre. From monster madness to animal adventures there are workshops and storytelling for young people of all ages. Colchester’s newest visual arts centre, firstsite, will also be hosting a free weekend of arts events and activities aimed at families, children and young people, all related to illustration, books or comics.

The Festival is also offering a unique chance to learn more about the art of book binding. Held at the Essex Record Office, participants will have the opportunity to make their own books using traditional methods.

Also new for 2012 is an artists’ book fair which will see some of the country’s finest book artists displaying and selling their work at the Colchester Arts Centre.

For existing and aspiring writers there are workshops to help develop ideas and provide inspiration, and plenty of opportunities to hear from best selling authors about their motivations. Particular highlights include:

  • Adventure and travel writer Charley Boorman will be speaking about his latest challenge, a race across Canada.
  • Best-selling Essex author Barbara Erskine, a patron of the Festival, will present her most recent novel.
  • BBC historian Dr Kate Williams will be in Loughton to talk about her new historical novel, The Pleasures of Men
  • The former Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, will introduce his long awaited sequel to the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Treasure Island.
  • The bestselling U.S. author of My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult, explores her new novel, Lone Wolf.
  • Cook, restaurateur, businesswoman, food and fiction writer Prue Leith talks about her life since revolutionising Britain's eating habits in the 1960s.
  • Also on a food theme, writer, presenter and foodie, Hardeep Singh Kohli, will be in Grays combining his love of cooking and chatting.

Launched alongside the line-up is a new scheme to encourage support and participation in the Festival, the Friends of the Essex Book Festival.

Jane Lomas, of local writers group Writebulb is the first Chairman of the Friends of the Essex Book Festival. She said: ‘The Book Festival has benefitted from fantastic support across the county. This year, and for the first time, we’ve launched the Friends of the Book Festival to recognise the invaluable contribution our supporters have made to its development.

‘We very much hope that the Friends of the Festival will provide a forum for fellow literature lovers and encourage their continued involvement in the Festival as a registered charity. ‘

There are a number of ways you can support the Festival and get involved. To find out more, visit

Tickets for all Essex Book Festival events and activities will be available from Wednesday 4 January 2012. For more information, visit: or pick up a festival brochure from your local library.

Notes to editors

1. The Essex Book Festival is a month-long annual celebration of literature which takes place across the county during March. Operated by an independent trust, the Festival is supported by the Arts Council England, England, Essex County Council and the University of Essex.

2. For more information on the Festival contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone 01206 874471, e-mail A full list of all Festival events and writers taking part, including media contact details, can be found below.

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