The Essex Book Festival is turning 20 this year and organisers have put together one great party.

Bigger than ever, there will be more than 250 local, national and international writers and artists taking part in more than 140 author events, panels, exhibitions, workshops and performances in 45 venues across the county.

Essex Book Festival patron and award-winning author of The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry, will be opening the festival at Essex University on March 1, which will be followed by a weekend of maritime mayhem and words in venues across Harwich under the banner of Secret Water.

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of Arthur Ransome’s Secret Water in The 1912 Building with The Arthur Ransome’s Society, plus Sophie Neville who played ‘Titty’ in Swallows and Amazons 1974 edition. Wivenhoe-based acclaimed author A L Kennedy will be talking about her brilliant new book The Little Snake, and the festival will be launching their top 20 books that rock Essex, on board the LV18 otherwise know as The Boat That Rocked, amongst a myriad of other fun and challenging activities for all ages and tastes.

Elsewhere there are 27 author events taking place in the County’s libraries something festival director, Ros Green, is keen to promote, especially as Essex Libraries founded the Festival back in 1999.

She says: “With many Essex Libraries under threat, our maxim is Love Your Local Library – Use It or Lose It. Our library highlights include our Essex Book Club Symposium in Chelmsford Library with authors Sarah Moss and Carolyn Kirby, and our Essex Authors and You day also in Chelmsford Library which provides an excellent platform for local authors to share both their own work and offer tips on how to get published via a series of workshops.”

Bookbinders are in for a treat as author Bridget Collins discusses her latest book The Binding at Colchester Library on March 23 as part of the festival’s Place weekend, complimented by two bookbinding workshops at Firstsite, also on March 23.

Other library treats include Oh, The Places We’ll Go international storytelling event for families in Thurrock Library on March 9, an evening with author Patricia Volante at Canvey Island sharing insights into Rossi Ice-creams, plus an evening with Sophie Hannah talking about her latest book in Maldon Library.

For the rest of the festival, Southend will once again play host to the festival’s Golden Age of Crime Weekend over March 16 to 17.

This year’s special focus is C S Forrester, just in time for the release of blockbuster movie Greyhound starring Tom Hanks, which is based of Forester’s novel The Good Shepherd.

And following last year’s inaugural science weekend in Chelmsford, Science and the Imagination returns over March 30 to 31. This includes events with ex-BBC Science Correspondent and Broadcaster Sue Nelson who will be sharing insights of the race for moon and beyond.

Go to from January 14.