A programme of art, architecture and infrastructure to mark the centenary of the UK’s biggest council housing estate

Pen to Print

ReadFest: Readers Afternoon – Becontree Forever Local Author Panel


Friday 24 September

Pen to Print have invited local authors, Sylvia Kent, Elaine Spires, Sandra Prior and Farzana Hakim to talk about what inspires them to write about Dagenham and their love for the Becontree Estate.

The free online event will take place on Friday 24 September at 2pm-3.30pm. To register click here.


Sylvia Kent is a columnist, broadcaster, blogger and author of twelve commissioned published books via The History Press and Amberley Publishing, along with eight anthologies. Brought up in Dagenham (married in St Margaret’s, Barking), she retains a fondness for her childhood home and wrote its history in her 2015 book, Barking and Dagenham From Old Photographs, a copy of which was presented to Queen Elizabeth when Her Majesty visited Barking that year.

Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine’s keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine has recently launched her third novel about Dagenham, A Village in the Country, following the success of The Banjo - Books One and Two.

Sandra Prior had a storybook childhood complete with four sisters and a brother, and parents who lived in the same Dagenham home for more than half a century. She describes her childhood as sunny and safe, living in a place where you could play for hours and wander the streets with your friends, without any fears. Sandra writes Gangland Crime books, including Dangerous, based in Dagenham.

Dagenham resident, Farzana Hakim, author and editor of Write On! Magazine, hosted a series of workshops for women encouraging them to use their authentic voices in their writing. She believes all women have stories, and creative writing is the best way to tell these. Farzana is a previous winner of the Pen To Print Book Challenge competition and published her debut novel, Sweethearts of Ilford Lane, in 2019.

Pen to Print believe everybody should have a chance to tell their story and aim to build a network of expertise and support for aspiring writers in Barking and Dagenham and sharing this with a wider national and international community.

They provide a safe, collaborative environment that attracts and supports a network of diverse writers and genres. By learning to develop their authentic voices, aspiring writers are encouraged to reach communities with their stories reflecting not just their own journeys but also inspiring potential in others.

Pen to Print is a not for profit library organisation, based in the United Kingdom, established by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) Libraries in 2014. Becoming an Arts Council, England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) in 2018 it is now lead by Libraries in conjunction with an Advisory Panel that includes local people, founder members and industry experts.