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 a love of literary geography: exploring the settings that inspired writers classic and modern. I’ve written eleven 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'm now working on the second volume of Alyce: The Book of the Duchess.
I'm proof-reading Writing The Thames, a survey of books and literary mentions of the river that has been a constant in my life for so many years. Stunningly illustrated, it will be publishd by the Bodleian Library in March, 2016.
The third of my literary anthologies for the British Library, Pleasures of Nature is to be published in February 2016. Pleasures of the Garden: A Literary Anthology was published by the British Library, in April 2014, and Pleasures of the Table in March 2015.
Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands, a book about British writers with a strong sense of place, was published in May 2012.
My second book about Arthur Ransome is The World of Arthur Ransome. part biography, part companion to all twelve books of the Swallows & Amazons saga, it was published by Frances Lincoln in October 2012. I have also had several 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 column on audiobooks for The Times Saturday Review.
A high point of this year was celebrating the Feast of the Redeemer in Venice, another was daughter Daisy's 40th birthday - more about these and other adventures in Notepad, my occasional blog. Life is a wonderful balance between domesticity and venturing out and about.As I now have nine granchildren (Wilfred Timothy Eiliv was born in May), life is full of delightful distractions. It's good to be able make time for them, and I'm lucky enough to have a wild garden and vast attic where they can let their imaginations run riot.
Daisy is 40!
The World of Arthur Ransome (published 4 October 2012)