Top 20 graphic

We are delighted to announce the Top Twenty Books That Rock Essex – old and new – as part of our 20th Birthday celebrations in partnership with Essex Libraries and BBC Essex. The Top Twenty are either based or partially set in Essex, and have been nominated by readers across Essex over the last few weeks via an open call.

To find a winner, all you have to do is to email your favourite book from the list to We will announce the winner at Essex Book Club Symposium in Chelmsford Library on Thursday 28 March. 

Heart of Darkness  – Joseph Conrad – Tilbury Dock

War of the Worlds – HG Wells – Essex Coast

Secret Waters – Arthur Ransome – Hamford Waters

We Didn’t Mean To Go Sea – Arthur Ransome

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry – Colchester

Dracula – Bram Stoker – Purfleet

Oaken Heart – Margery Allingham – Tolleshunt D’Arcy

Starter for Ten – David Nicolls – Southend-on-Sea

Turn of the Screw – Henry James- Essex country house

The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown – Manningtree

Mehalah – Sabine Baring-Gould – Mersea

The Forgotten Seamstress – Liz Trenow – Braintree

Strange Magic – Syd Moore – Manningtree

Hiding From the Light – Barbara Erskine – Mistley

1984 – George Orwell – Colchester

The Peregrine – JA Baker – Essex Coast

Sharpes Regiment – Bernard Cornwell – South Essex

Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe – Colchester

Barnaby Rudge – Charles Dickens – Chigwell

The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie – Essex Country House

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Logo for BBC Essex