Students Staff

06 March 2012

Marina Warner at the Essex Book Festival

Colchester Campus

Internationally acclaimed author and cultural commentator, Professor Marina Warner, will be taking part in this year’s Essex Book Festival to talk about her new book, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights.

Flying carpets, hidden treasures, genies and many other wonders – these exotic enchantments are explored in Stranger Magic. Marina takes up themes and stories from the Arabian Nights to discover how magical thinking governs many aspects of experience, even now. She also argues that influences from the east have contributed far more profoundly to the west than has been recognised.

The book has been praised by reviewers: Victoria Beale in the Independent wrote, ‘Warner's book makes reading The Arabian Nights seem as essential to understanding the Western literary canon as the King James Bible, and a lot more fun." And in the Guardian, Robin Yassim-Kassab described it as ‘a labour of love, an academic work which often reads like a fireside conversation. It’s encyclopaedic, a book to be savoured in slices.’

Marina’s talk will be held at Colchester’s visual arts centre, firstsite, as part of the Essex Book Festival. It will be illustrated and promises to be a fascinating experience.

Marina is professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University; she gave the Reith Lectures in l994, and is an established author and public intellectual, with many publications to her name, including novels and short stories as well as studies of myth, literature, culture and art.

This year, the Essex Book Festival has taken a new direction thanks to major support from Arts Council England, local partners and the University, and is now operated by an independent trust, overseen by a board of voluntary trustees, all with a shared love of literature. Talking about the Festival, Marina says, “Writers are thick on the ground in Essex, or sometimes up in the clouds, and readers all over the county have strong tastes and unusual responses. The Festival is more various than others - and discussion very lively.”

Marina will be at firstsite on Tuesday 6 March at 7.30pm. For tickets, please call 01206 573948. For more information about the Festival, pick up a copy of the Essex Book Festival brochure at your local library or visit

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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