How the information age has revolutionised history

We live today in an age of unprecedented information. It’s easy to get – disposable, even. And an absolute boon to people like me. One of the huge benefits of the information revolution for historians has been the way that information, suddenly, is not just available online – it’s searchable. This is particularly true here … More How the information age has revolutionised history

Touring the bookstores with ‘Freyberg: A Life’s Journey’

I’ve lost count of the number of copies of Freyberg: A Life’s Journey I’ve signed in the past six weeks. Really. I’ve been out and about promoting the book, visiting bookshops, giving talks, meeting people – and signing. Mostly on weekends because that’s when customers usually buy. My publicist at Oratia, Belinda, worked hard to … More Touring the bookstores with ‘Freyberg: A Life’s Journey’

Shot by both sides – a historical experience

Does anybody remember the old ‘Magazine’ number from 1978 – ‘Shot By Both Sides’? That phrase, to me, sums up one of today’s major problems. In this world of polemic, where debate is so often reduced to two simplistic positions, somebody who doesn’t agree with either risks being attacked by both sides. I’ve run into … More Shot by both sides – a historical experience

Why writing a biography is a bit like writing a novel

The essence of a biography, at least to me, is exploring the character of a person. Merely knowing what somebody did in their life isn’t enough: we have to know why. And that, of course, is also what novellists do. This doesn’t mean that a biographer makes stuff up. On the contrary, the data is … More Why writing a biography is a bit like writing a novel

When Peter Pan grew up

Ever wondered what Peter Pan would have been like, had he grown up? Peter Pan’s creator, James Barrie, knew, because that is how he described his friend Bernard Freyberg. Barrie, a successful playwright, met Freyberg while the latter was recovering in a London hospital from war wounds in 1916-17. They formed a firm friendship, thought … More When Peter Pan grew up

The story of Lady Chatterley’s (real) lover

Back in 1928, D. H. Lawrence published a book that rocked Britain. It appeared first in France. When he tried to get it released in Britain, it was banned. Lady Chatterley’s Lover finally appeared in expurgated form, both in Britain and the United States. But when Penguin tried to publish it, uncensored, in 1960, they … More The story of Lady Chatterley’s (real) lover