Students Staff

11 February 2013

Gearing up to another successful Essex Book Festival

Essex academics, leading writers, performers and a celebrity baker are preparing for their inspiring University events as the 2013 Essex Book Festival draws nearer.

Starting on 3 March, the University programme features the story of a multi-million dollar whistleblower, to how to retrain our brains to be more optimistic with a leading neuroscientist and exploring the concept of ‘edgeland’ and how it has influenced one of Britain’s greatest nature writers.

Held throughout March, tickets remain available for University events for literature lovers across the county. The public are also invited to the official festival launch on 1 March at Chelmsford Library.

The University’s events begin on 3 March with a workshop for writers of all levels of experience at the Lakeside Theatre at the Colchester Campus, led by Lakeside Theatre Associate Artist Andrew Burton, and Nicola Werenoskwa, a Colchester-based playwright. On 4 March at Southend Campus, Michael Woodford MBE tells his extraordinary story of how he became the first CEO in history to turn whistleblower and expose a $2 billion dollar accounting fraud within Olympus.

On 5 March at firstsite in Colchester, Dr James Canton will be tracking the paths of literary figures who ventured into wilder parts of Essex, including Shakespeare, John Clare and HG Wells. Writer and performer, Sandi Toksvig will then be talking about her striking new novel about liberty, empire and war at Colchester Campus on 7 March.

One of Britain’s greatest nature writers and Essex Honorary Graduate, Richard Mabey, will discuss the concept of ‘edgeland’, on 13 March, and how it has influenced his writing, for the University’s Annual Burrows Lecture at the Lakeside Theatre. On 16 March, academics from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies will host a day of talks, readings and presentations on the theme of water with contributions from artist Maggi Hambling at Colchester Campus.

On 18 March, the 2011 winner of the nation’s most watched baking competition, Jo Wheatley, will be showcasing her first book, A Passion for Baking, with over 100 delicious baking recipes and will demonstrate a number of them and give her top tips on baking at home, at Wivenhoe House. Leading psychologist and neuroscientist, Professor Elaine Fox will then discuss her highly popular book, Rainy Brain Sunny Brain, on 19 March at the Lakeside Theatre, and tell us how we can become more optimistic by retraining our brains.

Finally, on 23 March award-winning director Adam Spreadbury-Maher will talk about his adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities and its relevance for contemporary audiences, followed by an evening performance of the play, at Loughton Campus.

University academics are also playing a key role in other Essex Book Festival events including researcher James Scott, who will be joining a panel of other speakers on 15 March to debate opinions of Essex and Professor Ted Benton who will talk about his passion for nature and inspiration behind his work, alongside a panel of other Essex-based natural history writers on 8 March.

Information about all the events taking place during the Festival can be found on the Essex Book Festival website at:, or you can pick up a brochure at your local library.

Notes to Editors
The University has played a key role in the Essex Book Festival since it became an independent trust with charitable status in 2012. Established 12 years ago, the festival has become a popular literary celebration for the county of Essex, showcasing the work of many leading writers and outstanding talent from around the world.

For more information about University events for the Essex Book Festival contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone: 01206 874471, e-mail:

High resolution pictures can be downloaded at: Press contacts can be viewed on the press section of the Essex Book Festival website, at:

Essex Book Festival
The Essex Book Festival began in 1999 and is a month-long celebration of literature. It takes place annually during March in libraries, theatres and other venues across the county.

In 2011, the Essex Book Festival became an independent trust and is now run by a board of volunteer directors. The Festival is supported by the Arts Council England, Essex County Council and the University of Essex.

The Essex Book Festival works with independent book shops around the county at festival events to promote book sales. During the year, Essex Book Festival Extra offers a programme of writer development opportunities and activities which enable writers to meet their local peers and share knowledge and experience.

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