John Agard

John Agard is the recipient of many awards for his writing, including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and, The Lifetime Achievement Award from Book Trust (2021). A puckish, joyous and inimitable performer, mixing ‘straight’ English with Caribbean Creole to exhilarating effect. His poetry collections for children and adults address many different themes, including ethnicity and ancient mythology, with a blend of wit, humour and acute observation of the human condition.

Ben Aitken

Ben Aitken was born under Thatcher, grew to 6ft then stopped, and is an Aquarius. He is the author of four books: Dear Bill Bryson, A Chip Shop in Poznan (a Times bestseller), The Gran Tour (‘Both moving and hilarious’, Spectator) and The Marmalade Diaries.

Seema Anand

Seema is a storyteller and mythologist specialising in women’s narratives, an award winning author and a corporate guru. She uses stories for entertainment, for therapy, for education and for positive action change. Her research on ancient Indian folklore is affiliated to the UNESCO initiative for preserving endangered oral traditions as she works to bring ancient Indian texts back into the public space, translated and reworked to reach multi cultural audiences.

Lora Aziz

Lora is an artist, writer and wild-crafter. She is co-founder of creative nature based company Wyrd Flora and the author of Homeland is Presence. Her latest project and exhibition Motanafas: A space to connect is a UK – Egypt collaboration forming part of the British Council’s COP27 Creative Commissions that brings together art, science and digital technology as an innovative, interdisciplinary, inclusive response to climate change.

Michael Banjoko

I have been in the private practice of architecture for the past 25 years in the UK and abroad with a passion for sustainability, especially at neighbourhood scale. I have also just completed a doctoral program at Cranfield University with a masters in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing. In my work as a local pastor, I’ve also had the privilege of engaging with diverse peoples and communities in Harlow. From such vantage points of ministry and service, you cannot but only see shades of grace.

Freya Berry

Freya Berry was born in 1991, studied English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, and worked for several years as a financial and political journalist at Reuters and then the Daily Mail . Freya splits her time between London and the Welsh coast. The Dictator’s Wife, her debut novel, was inspired by the close observation of the wives of some of the world’s most powerful leaders, and was a BBC2 Between the Covers pick.

Bertie the Therapy dog

Bertie the Therapy Dog will be putting in an appearance at our Family Fun Day at Harlow Library on 17th June. Children can book a session to read to Bertie the therapy dog in a one-to-one ten minute session. These sessions are also held every third Saturday of the month at Harlow Central Library. Free but booking essential via

Kevin Bruce

Kevin Bruce is a local historian who has researched diverse aspects of the local history of the Dengie Hundred area for over 50 years, with particular attention to Bradwell and Tillingham and the coastal marshlands. He shares his knowledge of local and natural history with visiting school groups to the Othona Community at Bradwell and gives talks to local groups and societies.

Madeleine Bunting

Madeleine Bunting is the author of several acclaimed works of non-fiction, including Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care, which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize; Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey, which was shortlisted for the wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize and the Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year award; The Plot: A Biography of My Father’s English Acre, which won the Portico Prize and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize, and Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives. She is also the author of two novels: Island Song and Ceremony of Innocence.

Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows is a journalist, who has written about society, culture and place for the Guardian, New Statesman, Vice, the Daily Telegraph, Dazed & Confused, the Quietus and Somesuch Stories, among others. A recurring subject in his work is Essex and the Thames Estuary. His Guardian longread ‘The Invention of Essex’ was published to widespread acclaim. He lives in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

James Canton

Dr James Canton is Director of Wild Writing at the University of Essex. He is the author of The Oak Papers (2020), Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain (2017) and Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape (2013), which was inspired by his rural wanderings in East Anglia. He has written for the Guardian, reviews for the TLS and Caught by the River, and is a regular on television and radio.

Eleanor Catton

Eleanor Catton is the author of The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker Prize and a global bestseller. Her debut novel, The Rehearsal, won the Betty Trask Prize, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. As a screenwriter, she adapted The Luminaries for television, and Jane Austen’s Emma for feature film. Born in 1985 in Canada and raised in New Zealand, she now lives in Cambridge.

Wendy Constance

Since winning the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2013 (Stone Age novel Brave published April 2014), Wendy’s writing has developed via creative nonfiction (MA Wild Writing: Literature & the Environment 2018) and poetry. In 2021 she received Arts Council DYCP funding for developing the writing practice of eco-poetry. As a mixed-media artist, she combines loves of writing, nature, and walking with the potential to interweave different creative forms.

Amanda Craig

Amanda Craig is an award-winning journalist, critic and the author of nine novels, including Hearts and Minds, The Lie of the Land and The Golden Rule. A novelist who often combines literary fiction with crime and suspense, she will be talking about “the marriage of true minds”, 1930s feminism and the Wimsey-Vane romance.

Johanna Dale

Johanna Dale is a research fellow in the Department of History at UCL, where she previously held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her research is focused on the political and cultural history of the medieval period, and her first book, Inauguration and Liturgical Kingship in the Long Twelfth Century: Male and female accession rituals in England, France and the Empire, was shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize in 2020. As a resident of Essex, she has a long-standing interest in the medieval history and heritage of the county.

Abi Daré

Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in the UK for over 18 years. The Girl With the Louding Voice won The Bath Novel Award in 2018, was a New York Times bestseller and shortlisted for the British Book Awards Debut Book of the Year 2021. Abi lives in Essex with her husband and two children, who inspired her to write her debut novel.

Henry Dimbleby

Henry Dimbleby is the co-founder of LEON, and the Director of The Sustainable Restaurant Association. In 2013, he co-authored The School Food Plan, which set out actions to transform school meals and food education in schools, and his work with DEFRA culminated in the National Food Strategy policy proposal. His work has been praised by figures including Yotam Ottolenghi and Sir Partha Dasgupta.

Catherine Emmett

Cath grew up in Newcastle and spent her childhood reading books and dreaming about having lots of animals. But when she grew up, she moved to the Big Smoke and spent her time making boring spreadsheets instead. After advising a group of young girls to find a career that they loved and to follow their dreams, she decided to take her own advice! She packed up her husband and her three young boys, escaped to rural Essex where she started to write picture books. She now spends her days surrounded by words, animals and her noisy family.


Ensonglopedia make learning fun through song. They create musical shows and videos, and run workshops, to inspire the next generation of artists, scientists and historians. Most of their work is aimed at upper primary and lower secondary ages, though they pride themselves on making work which will appeal equally to young people and adults.

Mohamed Errebbaa & Gnawa Bristol

Mohamed Errebbaa is a Maalem (Master) of Gnawa music originally from Rabat, Morocco. Mohamed Errebbaa trained in percussion at the age of 10 years. He began learning Gnawa as a Koyo (percussion player) and dancer learning the Guembri at the age of 16. His initiation into the Gnawa tradition took 10 years. He then received the Guembri from the hand of his Master and the title of Maalem or Master in 2008 at age 26. Mohamed is steeped in traditional Gnawa music which combines a repertoire of over 100 songs with ceremony, dance and rituals practiced for centuries. Gnawa music connects elements of the Arab music of the North and the music of sub-Saharan Africa with Sufi mysticism.

Sade Fadipe

As a teacher, in 1996, a Guest Author visited Sade’s school. It was the world acclaimed Quentin Blake – and there her inspiration to one day write for children was ignited. A good twenty years later, she released her very first book A Fun ABC published by Cassava Republic Press. Sade’s bi-cultural identity weaves through the realistic-fiction picture she creates and stories she tells. Through her books, she celebrates and introduces both African and non-African children to the music, food, culture, family bonds that Africans experience, the contemporary gender roles they exhibit and emphasises the humanity that binds us.

Samuel Fisher

Samuel Fisher is a writer, bookseller and publisher. His first novel, The Chameleon, won a Betty Trask Award. His second novel, Wivenhoe, has been shortlisted for the New Angle Prize, and will be adapted into a play in association with the Mercury Theatre. He is the co-founder of Burley Fisher Books and a director of Peninsula Press.

Nishall Garala

An award-winning community advocate, Nishall has been working to improve the lives of people in his town for many years. He has been honoured the British Citizen Award and the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award for his services to the community. Nishall is the founder of #BigUpHarlow, an ongoing drive to improve the public image of Harlow through the use of social media and to champion the achievements of the people that live there.

Paul Gitsham

DCI Warren Jones author Paul Gitsham’s primary school report said he would never achieve anything if his handwriting didn’t improve. A kinder note urged him to become the next Roald Dahl. Unless Dahl also wrote detective novels set in Hertfordshire, he has failed on both counts.

Suman Gujral

Suman is an artist and poet based at Pardon Mills Studio in Harlow. Underlying her work is in an interest in the interplay of light and shadow in our lives. In her words: “Light creates shadows and shadows help us to appreciate the light”. At the centre of her practice is the exploration of Indian history, in particular Partition when India was divided and many communities displaced; she explores the effect this had on her own family, and more broadly on India itself. She is interested in how the cycle of displacement and division of families is still happening today in places all around the world.

Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer grew up in the West Country and Wales. She studied art and worked for a number of years in television. In 2011 she won the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition and her short stories have appeared in various collections. Her debut novel The Girl in the Red Coat was published in 2015. It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Aware, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, and the Wales Book of the Year. It was followed by the acclaimed The Doll Funeral in 2017. Kate now lives with her husband in Cardiff.

Sarah Hardy

Sarah Hardy has lived for the last 10 years in rural Suffolk, which is where her novel is set. Before that she lived in London and worked on national magazines and newspapers. Sarah lives on the Suffolk coast in a converted out-building of what was once the village ‘Big House’, a place where the army was billeted during the WWII. This and the landscape around her, have served as inspiration for The Walled Garden.

Emilia Hart

Emilia Hart is a British-Australian writer. She was born in Sydney and studied English Literature and Law at the University of New South Wales before working as a lawyer in Sydney and London. Emilia is a graduate of Curtis Brown Creative’s Three Month Online Novel Writing Course and was Highly Commended in the 2021 Caledonia Novel Award. Her short fiction has been published in Australia and the UK. She lives in London.

Rosie Harte

Rosie Harte is a fashion historian and TikTok creator. During lockdown, she began to transfer her knowledge of art and fashion history into bitesize content for TikTok and now runs a hugely successful account (@theroyalwardrobe) with a world wide following. She has worked with museums across the country to bring their collections to a new audience and contributed to documentaries on royal life and fashion. She loves to explore the unconventional, the scandalous and the untold, introducing her viewers to the royal family’s rich and fashionable history.

Nila Hibbert

Nila is from Sri Lanka, and moved to the UK in 1969 with her parents. Her father was a GP, and she herself studied in college then decided to become a nurse. She worked at Princess Alexandra Hospital as a nurse from 1976 until she retired just over 10 years ago. She currently coordinates and runs Harlow Ethnic Minority Umbrella, working with 29 faith and cultural community groups in the town, looking to their needs, supporting them and giving them guidance when they have issues, and when they need it. They also encourage arts, culture and dancing through community workshops, encouraging children to express themselves. Both Nila and Harlow Ethnic Minority Umbrella have received a civic award, and Nila has received a high sheriff award for the diversity and community work she does in the town. Nila believes that Harlow is amazing town with such wonderful people who help one another.

Justin Hopper

Justin Hopper is an American writer based in the UK. His writing explores the intersection of landscape, memory and myth. He has taught landscape-writing and psychogeography courses and workshops at institutions including Tate, Tate Modern, Norwich Writers Centre, University of Pittsburgh, Interlochen Center for the Arts and many more.

Lily Hunter Green

Lily Hunter Green makes interdisciplinary more-than-human ‘hive’ projects that use digital art and performance to communicate changing ecologies & humans’ role in that process. Artist-in-Residence at Maori Lab,Cambridge University, Lily’s recent exhibitions include Barbican Centre(London), National Gallery(London) and BOZAR(Brussels).

William Hussey

William Hussey is the award-winning author of over a dozen novels, including the Crime Fest award-nominated Hideous Beauty and The Outrage. Born the son of a travelling showman, he has spent a lifetime absorbing the history, folklore and culture of fairground people, knowledge he has now put to work in his Scott Jericho thrillers. William lives in the seaside town of Skegness with his faithful dog Bucky and a vivid imagination.

Shane Ibbs

Shane was told Folk and Fairy tales by his Father around an open fire as a child. He also heard them at Infant school, in the 1960’s. As a father himself, Shane told Folk and Fairy Stories to his own, now adult, 3 children. Shane has also worked therapeutically, using story, with children and adults for over 20 years. He then turned his hand to Performance Storytelling.

Robin Ince

Robin Ince is co-presenter of the award-winning BBC Radio 4 show and podcast, The Infinite Monkey Cage. He has toured his award-winning stand-up across the world, both solo and with his radio double-act partner, Professor Brian Cox. He is the author of I’m a Joke and So Are You and The Importance of Being Interested.

Rob Jelly

Tall child/practicing adult/professional fool: I am the Presenter of The Evening Show on BBC Essex. Lover of pineapple on pizza, muddy puddles and doing silly voices. I’ve loved stories since I was a little boy, but I was 33 and a bit before I fell in love with reading.

Benjy Kusi

Benjy Kusi is a diversity and inclusion professional who regularly works with organisations to provide guidance on how to nurture inclusion and wellbeing in the workplace. Online, he creates helpful educational content on the importance of kindness. He was named by Dazed in June 2022 as an “icon in the making” for his work, and by TikTok as a 2021 “Voice of Change”. His aim is to provide helpful tips that help people make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of others.

Lady Unchained

Lady Unchained is a poet, broadcaster, TEDx speaker, mentor and an advocate for life after prison. She is the founder and creative director of Unchained Poetry, a platform for artists with experience of the criminal justice system. A passionate advocate for prison reform, Lady Unchained has created a documentary for BBC Radio 4 called ‘Unchained’ and has been interviewed on BBC Radio London and BBC Radio 1Xtra, as well as appearing on Good Morning Britain. She has also featured in publications such as Refinery29 and Metro. Lady Unchained’s mission is to prove that there is life after prison.

Sandra Lawrence

Sandra Lawrence is a freelance journalist and author, writing, over the past 20-odd years, hundreds of articles; for all the broadsheets and over 60 magazines and journals. She specialises in heritage and garden writing. Sandra is the author of 14 non-fiction books for adults and children, on a variety of subjects, ranging from history via myths, legends and folklore and quirky heritage.

Jackie Malton

Jackie Malton was a police officer for 28 years. During her career she worked in the drugs squad, CID, the flying squad, fraud squad and as a hostage negotiator. Jackie has acted as an adviser on some of the most successful British crime dramas,including Prime Suspect, The Bill, Cracker, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Trial and Retribution and Murder Investigation Team. She appeared in Steve McQueen’s BAFTA-award-winning documentary Uprising about the New Cross Fire.

Adrian May

…writer of songs, poems, non-fiction and speaker/ performer. Adrian May has a long career in folk music, has published six collections of poems and songs, a trilogy of books on creative writing and is an associate in the Centre for Creative Writing at Essex University. He is a member of Face Furniture, Potiphar’s Apprentices and other acoustic bands. He is old, and a folkie – but defiantly so.

Leo McKinstry

Leo McKinstry has been a successful, high-profile writer for almost three decades. He is the author of twelve non-fiction books, including a trilogy on the RAF during the Second World War, several football and cricket biographies, two of which won the WHSmith Sports Book of the Year awards, and a study of the 19th century Liberal Prime Minister Lord Rosebery, which was named as the Channel Four Political Book of the Year in 2006. He is also a national newspaper journalist.

Andrew Millham

Andrew Millham is a nature and folk history writer whose work has been published in national publications including Bird Watching, BBC Wildlife, Coast and The Countryman. He graduated with a first-class honours degree in environmental science, has received a Field Studies Council Young Darwin Scholarship and – after completing his training with Essex Wildlife Trust – is now a Forest School leader, teaching outdoor skills to primary school children.

Syd Moore

Best known for her Essex Witch Museum Mysteries (Strange Magic, Strange Sight, Strange Fascination, Strange Tombs, Strange Tricks) Syd Moore is also the founder of the Essex Girls Liberation Front, who successfully campaigned to have the definition of ‘Essex Girl’ removed from the Oxford Learners’ Dictionary in 2020. In the nineties she presented Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp, and regularly appears on television, radio, at universities, on political panels and at festivals. Her writing has been described as ‘Dennis Wheatley meets Caitlin Moran’.

SP K-Mushambi (Portia)

SP K-Mushambi is happiest when she is creating. She believes that literature and media that reflect our stories, our experiences and our images are essential for inspiring self-esteem and a sense of belonging. Portia is co-founder of NanisoCreate, which publishes the Naniso & Shinga book series and Tarirai & the Safari Five picture books. Born in England and raised in Zimbabwe, she has had a career in banking and treasury which spans over twenty years in both the corporate and humanitarian sectors. She lives in Berkshire with her husband and their two daughters.

Chileya Mwampulo

Chileya is a Zambian born actor, playwright and director. She is an associate artist at the Mercury Theatre, where she has just completed their playwriting program 2020 – 2021, and is currently in the Mercury creatives program.

James Naughtie

James Naughtie, who presented Today on BBC Radio 4 for twenty-one years, is a special correspondent for BBC News. He has written books on politics and music and published his first novel, The Madness of July, in 2014. He lives in Edinburgh and London.

Glenys Newton

Storyteller and Writer – Stories are magic and very powerful. Writing and reading books is another way of being able to share our stories. However much technology advances, the need for us to share and listen to one another’s stories never goes away and within each person’s story there is a universal message and gift to us all.

Mat Osman

Mat Osman is the bassist and founder member of iconic British rock band Suede and a composer of music for TV and films. He also worked as a culture journalist during the noughties, writing about art and travel for papers, magazines and online.

Pearl in the Egg

Pearl in the Egg are Historical Musicians, specialising in Medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan Music. They also play Anglo Saxon, Norman, Victorian, Edwardian and 1940’s music. They play in full authentic costume on copies of original instruments. They will be performing at Alison Weir’s event as part of our The History Books Day at Layer Marney Tower on 11th June.

Jules Pretty OBE, DL, FHEA, FRSB, FRSA

Jules Pretty is Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex, Director of the Centre for Public and Policy Engagement and author of two recent books: Sea Sagas of the North (2022) and The Low-Carbon Good Life (2023). He received an OBE for services to sustainable agriculture. He was appointed President of Essex Wildlife Trust in 2019, is Chair of the Essex Climate Action Commission, and is host of the podcast Louder Than Words.

Bernadette Rogers

Bernadette Rogers has three adult children and three grandchildren. She worked in a primary school for many years and loved storytelling as part of that role. Her books, Sunflower Adventures (2018) and Sunflower Adventures 2 feature a brave Sunflower named Sophie who has a thirst for adventure.

Liz Rotherham

Liz Rotherham is CEO of Heads2Minds. She is passionate about raising awareness about mental health and wellbeing and offering support to anyone experiencing mental health challenges. She is driven to help reduce the stigma around various mental health disorders by promoting a better understanding. She is a psychotherapist with over 20 years’ experience in the mental health field and specialises in a variety of therapies including reiki, hypnotherapy, CBT and healing.

Hannah Rudd

Hannah Rudd is a marine biologist and writer specialising in shark science. Growing up on the Essex coast, she has always been infatuated with the sea, and currently works with recreational anglers in the UK gathering data on UK shark species through the collaborative group Shark Hub UK. Hannah has also been active in marine conservation overseas, with extended periods of work based in the Maldives and South Africa.

Nicky Saunter

Nicky is a serial entrepreneur who is interested in ways of working that integrate ethics, social justice and sustainability with flexible business models on different scales. She writes for the Rapid Transition Alliance and is also Co-founder of the Beaver Trust.

Sam Scott

Sam Scott lives in Essex with her husband. She has two grown-up sons and four cats. Sam has been writing for many years, mainly for children, encouraging learning through fiction by combining real-life subjects, people and places. In her middle grade ghost adventures, Sam uses the experience she has built up having lived in a 15th century home where she and her family encountered many supernatural and paranormal phenomena. Away from writing Sam enjoys training in the gym and practicing yoga.

Charlotte Sebag Montefiore

Charlotte Sebag-Montefiore’s many years of experience as a clinical psychologist in the NHS, and as a mother and grandmother, has helped her produce books which children love. Charlotte loves dinosaurs and animals – they are so interesting! And Charlotte really enjoys rhymes and riddles!

Efua Sey

The aim of the Efua Sey Cultural Academy is to promote cultural diversity and community integration through education, social care, events, befriending, arts and culture to reduce social exclusion and isolation of disadvantaged members of our local community. Their mission is to empower disadvantaged members of our local community and encourage a culturally diverse community in which every member feels that they belong and so can contribute towards the development of the local area.

Clare Shaw

Clare Shaw has had plays performed at venues such as Wimbledon New Theatre, The Cockpit, Chicken and Hens, Barnes Arts centre and The Pleasance. She has also written plays for festivals such as The Vault festival, Pulse festival and Colchester fringe. She has had one novel and several non fiction books published and her short stories have appeared in three anthologies. Look out for her new story in Funny Shorts, an anthology of the best of women’s comedy writing to be published in September by Farrago. She lives in Colchester with John where she writes, grows vegetables and then writes some more.

Eleanor Shearer

Eleanor Shearer is a mixed-race writer and the granddaughter of Windrush generation immigrants. She splits her time between London and Ramsgate so that she never has to go too long without seeing the sea. The inspiration for River Sing Me Home came to Eleanor after she discovered a tiny footnote in an exhibition she was attending about the Windrush.

Andrew Simms

Andrew Simms is an author, political economist and campaigner. He devised ‘Earth Overshoot Day,’ marking when in the year we start living beyond our ecological means and, with Prof Peter Newell, proposed the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty in 2018, now a major international campaign. His books include Cancel the Apocalypse, Ecological Debt, The New Economics, Tescopoly and Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? Current campaigns include Badvertising – to stop adverts fuelling the climate emergency, and Car Free Mega Cities.

Ray Star

Ray Star is a Fantasy author from Essex with a passion for animal rights and eco-living. Earthlings is Ray’s debut novel and the first book in the Earthlings trilogy and has gone on to win three awards. Ray is a member of the Climate Fiction Writers League and the Society of Authors Working Sustainability group, campaigning for sustainability within the publishing industry. Earthlings is printed on recycled paper where possible and one tree is planted for every copy sold via Ecologi.

Julia Stone

Julia Stone is a registered psychotherapist and chartered psychologist who writes psychological suspense. (She assures you she is nothing like the therapist in her book!) She studied novel writing at Faber Academy and in 2018 she won The Blue Pencil First Novel award. Her debut, Her Little Secret, was published in 2021 by Orion Books, and The Accident in 2022. As well as writing, she coaches other creative people on the issues that are getting in the way of their writing or artistic ambitions.

Wes Streeting

Wes Streeting is a Labour MP and the Shadow Health Secretary. He read History at Selwyn College, Cambridge and began his political vocation as President of the National Union of Students. Afterwards he became Head of Education at Stonewall and served in local government, before being elected as an MP in 2015.

Kev F Sutherland

Kev F’s work for Marvel includes Doctor Strange, Star Trek and Werewolf By Night. For The Beano he has written and drawn The Bash Street Kids, Bananaman, Pansy Potter and others. His Shakespearian graphic novel series, Findlay Macbeth, Hamlet Prince Of Denmark Street, and The Midsummer Night’s Dream Team, are all available in paperback, on Kindle, and in a new Omnibus Edition, alongside his latest collection Comic Tales From The Bible.

Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee is a journalist, author, and broadcaster. A Guardian columnist and broadcaster, she was formerly the BBC’s social affairs editor. She has written for the Observer, the Independent and Radio Times and been an editor at the Washington Monthly. She has won numerous awards including a National Press Award and the Orwell Prize for Journalism.

Liz Trenow

Liz Trenow is a former journalist who spent fifteen years working for regional and national newspapers and BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to writing historical fiction. The Secret Sister is her tenth novel. Previous titles have reached the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists, and been nominated for national awards. Liz lives in Colchester with her artist husband, and they have two grown-up daughters and three beautiful grandchildren. She can also be seen (and heard) singing with the Colchester Chamber Choir and Suffolk Villages Festival choir, Psalmody.

Kate Trethewey

Kate grew up in an idyllic setting on the banks of the river Deben on a Suffolk farm. This outdoor, natural life instilled in her a passion for nature, and a belief in life’s possibilities and the magical world that surrounds her. Having seen the difficulties and pressures that today’s children suffer, she feels it’s vital that they learn the importance of how wonderful they all are, each with their unique and individual talents. She has set out to try and instil a sense of self belief and confidence in them through her stories. The central theme throughout being “To things own self be true”.

Scarlett V Clark

Scarlett V Clark MA is the award-winning founder and CEO of Smart Girl Tribe, the UK’s number one female empowerment organisation, bestselling author of The Smart Girls Handbook (which has been selected as WHSmith’s book of the month and UNWomen’s book of the month), host of the top rated Smart Girl Tribe podcast and TV commentator on women’s issues. Scarlett is also a female empowerment expert for Harvard University, an ambassador for the NSPCC & Childline and UK delegate for the United Nations. She has personally worked with HeforShe alongside Emma Watson, the British Council, UN Women, the Houses of Parliament and Women for Women International. Scarlett is regularly featured in major publications including the Metro, the Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan and Stylist among others and on Channel4.

Anne Wafula Strike MBE

As an athlete, author, and sporting ambassador, Anne provides a personal example of courage, commitment and determination that challenge misconceptions about disability. Born in Mihu, Kenya, Anne was a fit and healthy child before polio struck when she was two years old. She was given the middle name of Olympia at birth, a title of prophetic significance for the future and prescient of hurdles she would face in forthcoming years. After completing A-levels and graduating from Moi University with a Bachelor of Education degree, Anne taught at Machakos Technical College in Kenya before meeting the man she would marry – which lead her to Britain, motherhood, wheelchair racing, disability advocacy and charity work.

Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware grew up in Lewes, in Sussex. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer, before settling down as a full-time writer. She now lives with her family in Sussex, on the south coast of England. She is the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game. Her books have been published in over 40 territories. Her latest thriller The It Girl paperback will be released in May.

Alison Weir

Alison Weir is a bestselling historical novelist of Tudor fiction, and the leading female historian in the United Kingdom She has published more than thirty books, including many leading works of non fiction, and has sold over three million copies worldwide. Her novels include the Tudor Rose trilogy, which spans three generations of history’s most iconic family the Tudors, and the highly acclaimed Six Tudor Queens series about the wives of Henry VIII, all of which were Sunday Times bestsellers.

Kate Worsley

Kate Worsley’s first novel, She Rises, won the HWA Debut Crown for Historical Fiction and was shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Prize in the US. She was born in Preston, Lancashire and now lives on the Essex coast.