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 - I found these giant wooden hands while wandering in the footsteps of the Lake poets - more about this above in my Notepad, my annual blog. As a result my life is a wonderful balance between domesticity and venturing out and about. 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've just finished the first draft of Alyce: The Book of the Duchess.
Pleasures of the Garden: A Literary Anthology was published by the British Library, in April 2014, and my second literary Anthology Pleasures of the Table, will be in the bookshops in March 2015; I am fine tuning a third, The Pleasures of Nature, due out in March 2016.
But most of my time is spent working on Writing The River: A Literary History of the Thames, which will be publishd by the Bodleian Library in 2016. Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands, a book about British writers with a strong sense of place, 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 . 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 column on audiobooks for The Times Saturday Review.
As I have eight granchildren, and the promise of a ninth, life is full of delightful distractions. It's good to be able make time for them, and I'mwild lucky enough to have a wild garden and vast attic where they can let their imaginations run riot.
The World of Arthur Ransome (published 4 October 2012)