Students Staff

28 February 2013

Essex Book Festival celebrates launch

Tomorrow marks the launch of the 2013 Essex Book Festival which features a number of University events throughout March from Essex academics and leading writers to performers and a celebrity baker.

With the story of a multi-million dollar whistleblower, to how to retrain your brain 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, the University’s events are a key feature of the festival.

The month-long festival will be launched at Chelmsford Central Library with a variety of activities, special guests and competitions, as well as all the latest information on the festival programme. Tomorrow’s launch is being broadcast live as part of BBC Essex’s Dave Monk Show.

The University programme, starting on 3 March, begins 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 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, which has now sold out. 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 the 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 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 the 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. Further, Dr Jörg Schaub from the University’s School of Philosophy and Art History will be chairing the ‘Philosophy Bites Back’ event on Tuesday 26 March.

  • If you cannot view the video on this page you can watch it on our Vimeo channel at:

The Essex Book Festival launch is on Friday 1 March from 9am to 12pm at Chelmsford Library, Market Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1LH. Admission is free and open to all.

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

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