NEXT week sees the start of this year’s Essex Book Festival and once again organisers have laid out a veritable literary smorgasbord of writers to suit all tastes.

With so much to choose from, Neil D’Arcy-Jones picks out his Top Five not to be missed.

To book tickets, or for anymore information, call 01206 573948 or go on-line at • Vince Cable: After the Storm, Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall, Essex University, Tuesday, March 1, 7.30pm. £8, £5 concessions. A POLITICIAN to kick-off the festival? Well why not with all the hoo-hah over Europe, that ‘election’ and the state of the global financial markets. And who better than the former Business Secretary for the coalition government of 2010 to 2015, and still one of the most highly regarded statesmen in this country and in the city.

• John Ashdown-Hill: The Mythology of Richard III, Wivenhoe Library, High Street, Wivenhoe, Wednesday, March 2, 7pm. £7, £5 concessions. THE Essex-based historian was one those responsible for finding the lost remains of Richard III under a Leicester car park in 2012. In his latest book he unravels the web of myths of a king who according to Shakespeare was a hunchback tyrant that killed his own nephews.

• Max Porter: Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Art Exchange Gallery, Square 5, Essex University, March 9, 7pm. ONE of the most exciting literary newcomers in recent years, Max’s debut has already been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. Part novel, part extended poem, it’s set in a London flat, where a father and two young boys face the unbearable loss of their wife and mother until a crow arrives.

• AN Wilson: Victoria: A Life, The Long Gallery, Layer Marney Tower, Layer Marney, March 15. 7.30pm. £10, £5 concessions. ONE of the real heavyweights of this year’s festival and in a spectacular setting, the biographer, historian and novelist is one of Britain’s most celebrated writers. As adept at fiction as he is at getting to the heart of his biographical subjects, among his many literary highlights include being longlisted for the Booker Prize for his novel Winnie and Wolf, and winning the Whitbread Award for Biography for his book on Leo Tolstoy.

• Home Weekend, Firstsite art gallery, Lewis Gardens, Colchester, March 19 to 20. Various times and prices. THERE really will be something for everyone with two days of readings, discussion panels and workshops. Among the highlights include Dr Chris McCully with his reflections on Beowulf, Colchester playwright Nicola Werenowska exploring migrant experience, and children’s author Wendy Constance sparking the imaginations of budding writers both young and old.