Author and Journalist
My interests divide between a fascination with the historical background to our everyday lives – the way we run our homes and bring up our children, and the food we eat - and with literary geography: the settings that inspired writers I love. As a result my life is a wonderful balance between domesticity and venturing out and about. I’ve written nine books on these subjects. The best known are Dream Babies: Childcare Advice from John Locke to Gina Ford and Arthur Ransome and Captain Flint’s Trunk (which resulted in my becoming Executor of the Arthur Ransome Literary Estate). I have also written a biography, Malory: The Life and Times of King Arthur’s Chronicler. Writing this led to a deepening interest in the fifteenth century, and I've just finished the first draft of Alyce: The Book of the Duchess.
My book to complement the British Library's summer exhibition Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands, was published in May 2012. I have also written a completely new book about Arthur Ransome for Frances Lincoln: The World of Arthur Ransome. part biography, part companion to all twelve books of the Swallows & Amazons saga, it was published in October 2012. Pottering about on the Upper Thames above Oxford has led to collecting interesting books on the Thames,; perhaps one day an anthology will result. I am now enyoing compiling literary anthologies for the British Library, whsoe wealth of holdings in print and images are a joy to explore. Pleausres of the Garden will be published in April 2014; more are on the way. I have also had three audiobook anthologies published by Naxos, The Christmas Collection, Poetry for the Winter Season and The Pleasures of the Garden.
My books brought me a parallel career: that of being a journalist, and broadcaster, using their subject matter as a springboard to writing diary and opinion columns in such newspapers as the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Times, and documentaries for radio. I also review books for various publications, and write a monthly feature on audiobooks for the Times Saturday Review.
The fleet expands
See Notebook for how the year went
The World of Arthur Ransome (published 4 October 2012)