Students Staff

26 March 2013

Festival success at University

Literature lovers across the county enjoyed a jam-packed month of events for the Essex Book Festival, with key events taking place at all three of the University’s campuses.

Highlights included one of the nation’s best loved writers and performers, Sandi Toksvig, who spoke to an audience of close to 400 in the Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall about her book Valentine Grey, sharing funny anecdotes about her family, her life as a writer and her passion for research.

Essex Honorary Graduate and eminent nature writer, Richard Mabey, gave this year’s Annual Burrows Lecture about the concept of ‘edgeland’, the zone between inhabited and wild land and how he spent much of his childhood playing in this zone, learning about the species that inhabited it. He spoke of the importance of edgelands, which are havens for nature, which have adapted to the changes imposed on them by man, giving a number of examples of edgelands around Essex.

Richard said: “Through my work with a number of academics and students from Essex, I know there is a really engaged audience at the University interested in the natural world. I was really pleased to be asked to give this year’s Burrows Lecture and return to Essex to meet other members of the University’s wider community - the lively Q&A session at the end of my lecture showed what an important issue this is to a lot of people.”

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

The 2011 winner of the nation’s most-watched baking competition, Jo Wheatley, showcased her first book, A Passion for Baking, containing over 100 baking recipes. Demonstrating how to make her delicious chocolate mud cake in front of an audience at Wivenhoe House, she also gave her top tips on baking at home and spoke of how her grandmother inspired her to start baking.

Former CEO of Olympus, Michael Woodford, spoke at the Southend Campus about his extraordinary story of how he exposed an accounting fraud approaching $2 billion within his own company, detailed in his book, Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal, and how doing so put his and his family’s lives at risk.

The festival featured a number of speakers linked to the University including Dr James Canton, from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies who spoke about how, looking beyond the modern stereotype of Essex, its landscape has inspired some of England’s finest writing, including that of Shakespeare.

Those taking part in the festival included Professor Elaine Fox, Department of Psychology, Dr Adrian May, Dr Philip Terry and Professor Marina Warner, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Professor Ted Benton and James Scott from the Department of Sociology, and Lakeside Theatre Associate Artist Andrew Burton.

  • If you cannot view the video on this page you can watch it on our Vimeo channel at:
  • 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, Essex County Council and the University of Essex.

    Belinda Farrell who managed the Essex Book Festival this year, said: “We are enormously grateful for the huge support the Essex Book Festival has had from the University of Essex, as a supporting partner and also for arranging a variety of really interesting events.”


    Notes to Editors

    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 and events can be downloaded at:

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