Friday, April 02, 2010


Alastair Campbell, Barbara Stuttle and yours truly at the last event of the Essex Book Festival on Tuesday - a great evening!

The Essex Book Festival is over for another year. This one – the eleventh – has been the best yet. Over the last month, readers and writers have enjoyed meeting some of the most notable personalities from around the world. Haven’t room to features photos of all of our visiting speakers - have illustrated local newspapers -but here is a note about just some of the sixty who appeared this year.

Colchester welcomed many of our best British authors. Andrew Motion introduced his latest book of poems, The Cinder Path, and essay, Ways of Life: on Places, Painters and Poets. Rose Tremain also appeared in the town, as did Otto de Kat, our visiting Dutch author. Essex author, Nick Ardley gave us a touch of the sea with his book Salt Marsh & Mud – brilliant evening. Alexander McCall Smith appeared at Felsted and spoke about his eleventh book in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series published last month. Margaret Drabble was at Old Harlow; Mike Gayle and George Alagiah were brilliant at Loughton, and Brentwood publishers, Malcolm Burgess and Heather Reyes appeared with the fabulous Irish novelist Orna Ross during the St Patrick’s Eve celebrations and we had a great evening examining their latest book city-lit Dublin.

Germaine Greer appeared at Chelmsford, Francis Wheen at the Essex Record Office; Penelope Lively – one of my favourites – was top of the bill at Great Baddow; Robert Hallman, a brilliant writer and photographer enlivened Hadleigh; Barbara Erskine at Wickford and of course Maggie Gee at our own Billericay Library, all of whom gave brilliant performances. Alastair Campbell appeared at Brentwood’s Bishops Hill in Hutton, introduced by Barbara Stuttle CBE. The author outlined the background to his support for Time to Change, a campaign to end stigma around mental health.