A MULTI-venue literature extravaganza will pay homage to a landmark anniversary of an historic event later this year.

The Essex Book Festival, which was first launched by Essex County Council in 1999, takes place every year and has become a staple of the county’s cultural calendar.

Now an independent charity run by a board of volunteer trustees, the countywide festival spans across 42 different venues and showcases more than 300 writers and artists.

In total, the celebration of storytelling lasts for just over one month, in which time more than 130 events - from book signings to meet-and-greets - take place.

This year’s theme is Brave New Worlds, which has been predominantly inspired by the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower ship’s departure to America in 1620.

The ship originally set sail from Harwich, home of Master Christopher Jones, who was the captain of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim Fathers.

Speaking about how the Mayflower’s importance came to inspire the festival, director Rosalind Green cited the events hosted in Harwich last year at the Old Fire Station and the 1912 building.

She said: “It came about as a result of our special programme of events in Harwich last March.

“Suddenly, the town’s role in the Mayflower’s journey hit home.

“The idea of Harwich having been at the centre of such an immense undertaking in 1620, and the fact that it is nestled opposite one of Europe’s largest container ports, became the focus of our thinking of Essex as a beacon of internationalism.”

In 2019, the Essex Book Festival itself celebrated a milestone anniversary having run for 20 years, but this year’s celebration is predicted to be even bigger.

The programme for the festival features everything from lessons in crime writing with Val McDermid to an immersive and interactive performance of The Drowned Pool.

Across the 32-day bonanza, appearances and talks from the likes of fashion guru turned author Susan Constantine and writer Joanna Glen will encourage budding book gurus.

There will also be a strong focus on science and creativity, in conjunction with the county’s year long celebration of technology and its impact on the planet.

The full programme will be officially launched on January 13.

To find out more visit essexbookfestival.com.