Poles take over the Essex Book Festival

This year the festival presents a series of unmissable literary events with hot Polish authors





1 - 31 March 
Essex Book Festival
Various venues
Colchester, Southend-on-Sea, Harlow


Writing the Place
with Philip Terry, Sarah Perry and Wioletta Greg

4 March, 3.45-5pm
Lewis Gardens, High Street 
Colchester, CO1 1JH
Tickets: £7
Box Office: (01206) 713700

A rare opportunity to hear three very different award-winning writers explain why ‘Place’ matters in their work.

Essex-based Polish poet Wioletta Greg talks her about her wonderful memoir Swallowing Mercury, our writer-in-residence Sarah Perry discusses The Essex Serpent, and poet Philip Terry share insights into his new volume Quennets, which will take us from Berlin to the Essex Estuary.


Fresh Blood
with Fiona Cummins, Aga Lesiewicz, David Young

12 March, 1.30-2.30pm
Park Inn Palace Hotel

Church Road 
Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2AL
Tickets: £7 (part of FESTIVAL 4 – MULTIPLE EVENT OFFER)
Box Office: 01206 573948


Join three of the UK’s most celebrated new crime writers. Fiona Cummins will lure us into the compellingly dark world of Rattle. Aga Lesiewicz will challenge our sleuthing credentials with the startlingly addictive Rebound. Finally, David Young, Winner of the 2016 CWA Historical Dagger Award, will talk about his Cold War thriller Stasi Child.


18 March, 11am-4pm
Harlow Library 
Cross Street
Harlow CM20 1HA

Supported by the British Council and Polish Cultural Institute as part of the London Book Fair Polish Market Focus 2017, Meet the Neighbours will involve a variety of UK/Polish collaborations, and family activities. There will be a series of conversations featuring Uk and Polish authors, including festival wrier-in-residence Sarah Perry (The Essex Serpent) in conversation with internationally acclaimed Polish poet and writer Wioletta Greg. Plus an exciting mix of complimentary storytelling sessions, family workshops, and performances, and lashings of Polish cheesecake 'tasters' from the Polish pop-up cafe. 

The programme includes:

Swallowing Mercury
Wioletta Greg in conversation with Sarah Perry

18 March, 1-2pm
Tickets: £7 (part of FESTIVAL 4 – MULTIPLE EVENT OFFER)
Box office: 01206 573948

Every so often you stumble across an original and utterly inspiring book. Internationally acclaimed Polish poet Wioletta Greg’s memoir Swallowing Mercury is one of those books. A profoundly moving account of growing up in communist Poland, Wioletta takes her readers on an unforgettable journey. One that Essex author Sarah Perry is eager to discuss with her in Harlow Library.

Nicola Werenowska

18 March, 1-2pm

A work-in-progress by Essex-based playwright Nicola Werenowska, explores the effects of war and displacement through the lens of the UK post-war Polish community. Join the creative process as participants share family stories and memories in a short performance. Followed by a discussion about life in the UK. 

Partners in Crime 
Maryla Szymiczkowa (Piotr Tarczyński & Jacek Dehnel) in conversation with Nicci French (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French)

18 March, 2.15-3.15pm
Tickets: £7 (part of FESTIVAL 4 – MULTIPLE EVENT OFFER)
Box office: 01206 573948

Tajemnica Domu Helclów (The Mystery of Helcel House) is a deliciously camp pastiche of a period crime story published by Jacek Dehnel and Piotr Tarczyński under the name Maryla Szymiczkowa. The adventurers of their main protagonist, Mrs Szczupaczynska, often referred to as the Miss Marple of Polish crime fiction, will be shared with leading UK ‘partners in crime fiction’ Nicci French.

Are My Roots Showing?
Karola Gajda in conversation with Aga Lesiewicz

18 March, 3.45-4.45pm
Tickets: £7 (part of FESTIVAL 4 – MULTIPLE EVENT OFFER)
Box office: 01206 573948

Magda, born in England to Polish parents, has recently broken up with her boyfriend Matt and needs a fresh start. Quitting her job, she sets off to Warsaw to teach English in a quest to explore her roots… Author Karola Gajda, who like her chief protagonist was also born in England to Polish parents, discusses her hugely entertaining debut novel with UK-based Polish crime-writer Aga Lesiewicz.

Family Fun Workshop

18 March, 12-4pm

A fabulous smorgasbord of family storytelling sessions and arts and crafts workshops will be on offer for all ages and backgrounds. Try your hand at wycinanki, the traditional Polish folk art of paper-cutting, join in our rhyming storytelling sessions, or take your seat for a performance by the Polish Saturday School…

There’ll be something for everyone.

Polish Cultural Institute
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