NAUTICAL events and literary celebrations will be taking place across Harwich this weekend to mark the start of this year’s Essex Book Festival.

With the annual festival now in its 20th year, a host of events are lined up for the historic town.

For the opening weekend, there will be writing classes in the 1912 Centre, in Cow Lane, on Saturday, March 2, and Sunday, March 3.

Author meet and greets and writing workshops will be held at the 1912 Centre, the Redoubt Fort and aboard the LV18 vessel at Harwich Quay.

The event celebrates the 80th anniversary of Arthur Ransome’s Secret Water in The 1912 Centre, with The Arthur Ransome Society plus Sophie Neville who played “Titty” in the 1974 edition of Swallows and Amazons.

Wivenhoe-based acclaimed author AL Kennedy will be talking about her new book The Little Snake.

The festival will be launching its top 20 books that rocked Essex aboard the LV18 - otherwise known as The Boat That Rocked - among a myriad of other fun and challenging activities for all ages and tastes.

On Saturday, there will be workshops and talks at the 1912 Centre, in Cow Lane, from 11am until 4pm, and on Sunday, the Redoubt Fort will play host to author AL Kennedy.

On the Sunday, events for families and children will be held at all three venues from 11am until 4pm.

A festival spokesman said: “Home to Christopher Jones, captain of the Mayflower, Samuel Pepys’ parliamentary constituency; a temporary home for 200 Kindertransport children between 1938-1939, plus the final berth of Radio Caroline’s The Boat That Rocked, Harwich has a compelling nautical tale to tell.”

For more information on the festival and events at the other 46 venues where it is taking place, go to