From HG Wells to Agatha Christie, a number of world-class authors have been inspired by Essex.

With the country in lockdown visiting different parts of our county is off limits as everyone is being told to stay at home. 

However, that shouldn't stop you from  exploring Essex through literature with one of these top class novels:

War of the Worlds, HG Wells


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Iconic science fiction novel, War of the Worlds by HG Wells was first published in 1898 and is set in part along the Essex coast. 

After the exodus of the population of London begins, the unnamed protagonist's brother flees to Essex. 

This stellar book has inspired numerous films and television series over the years. 


When an army of invading Martians lands in England, panic and terror seize the population. As the aliens traverse the country in huge three-legged machines, incinerating all in their path with a heat ray and spreading noxious toxic gases, the people of the Earth must come to terms with the prospect of the end of human civilization and the beginning of Martian rule.

1984, George Orwell 

Published in 1949 this is the ninth and last novel Orwell completed in his lifetime.

The dystopian novels centres on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation of persons and behaviours within society.

Orwell modelled the government in the novel on Stallinist Russia and the book examines the role of truth and fact in politics. 

Colchester is hit by a nuclear weapon in the novel during the 1950s.


Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One.

Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities.

Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy.

Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent - even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. . .

Barnaby Rudge, Charles Dickens

The fifth Dickens novel to be published and is largely set during the Gordon Riots of 1780. 

Set in Chigwell the historical novel outlines the anti-Catholic riots of 1780 through the eyes of individuals swept up in the riotous mob.


The story centres around Emma, a Catholic, and Edward, a Protestant, whose forbidden love weaves through the heart of the story; and the simpleminded Barnaby, one of the riot leaders, whose fate is tied to a mysterious murder and whose beloved pet raven, Grip, embodies the mystical power of innocence.

The story encompasses both the rarified aristocratic world and the volatile streets and nightmarish underbelly of London, which Dickens characteristically portrays in vivid, pulsating detail.

But the real focus of the book is on the riots themselves, depicted with an extraordinary energy and redolent of the dangers, the mindlessness, and the possibilities–both beneficial and brutal–of the mob.

Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe

Another novel set in Chigwell is Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe which was first published in 1722.

The novel is based partially on the life of Moll King, a London criminal whom Defoe met while visiting Newgate Prison.

Defoe leased a Colchester property (a farm with house) in 1722 which was subsequently rebuilt and occupied by his daughter Hannah Defoe. 


Moll Flanders is a story about the fall and rise of a beautiful woman who was born in Newgate Prison. Because of her determination to be someone other than a servant, and because of her great greed, she sought to marry a wealthy man.​

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie 


The first of Christie's novels to feature Belgian detective Poirot is set in Styles Court, an Essex country manor - which was also the setting of Curtain, Poirot's last case. 


A refugee of the Great War, Poirot is settling in England near Styles Court, the country estate of his wealthy benefactor, the elderly Emily Inglethorp. When Emily is poisoned and the authorities are baffled, Poirot puts his prodigious sleuthing skills to work. Suspects are plentiful, including the victim’s much younger husband, her resentful stepsons, her longtime hired companion, a young family friend working as a nurse, and a London specialist on poisons who just happens to be visiting the nearby village.

All of them have secrets they are desperate to keep, but none can outwit Poirot as he navigates the ingenious red herrings and plot twists that earned Agatha Christie her well-deserved reputation as the queen of mystery.