They are a wonderful mixture of personalities from differing social and professional backgrounds with many and varied experiences of life. The well-connected and the not so well-connected. In many cases ‘ordinary’ people that are in fact extraordinary people.
Let’s begin with the Intelligence-gathering Army officer of the 1940s, to the daughter of a Communist pig farmer in Hampshire, who married a young Jewish man and went to live in the Jewish East End of London in the 1950s – a shiksa in Blythe Street, E2. And then we have the author, English-born but living in Belgium, fascinated with the life and work of Arthur Mee, the creative force behind the Children’s Encyclopaedia, which many people of a certain generation grew up with and hold happy memories of using, just as young people today use the internet. Next is the entrepreneurial farmer (mostly pigs, we can see a connection growing here!) who is also a journalist, broadcaster, and travels the world hunting down his stories and … pigs! Followed by the civil servant who worked in the British Cabinet Secretariat during the Second World War, and rubbed shoulders with Churchill, Attlee, Allenbrooke, and many of the major political and military figures that populate the diaries, memoirs, and biographies of the era. And who, post-World War Two, was involved in setting up the first secretariat of NATO, and in this capacity attended the various allied conferences in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Arguably the author who has had the most impact – on us and his readers – is Eddie Summers. Born to immigrant parents of Russian-Jewish descent (13 children by the way) his autobiography and anthology of stories was a joy to work on. Hugely influenced by the zany comedy of Groucho Marx and the Goon Show, and the writing of S. J. Perelman, Robert Benchley and Stephen Leacock, only our wonderful author could have produced such pearls as ‘Finkelfeffer, Where are You?’, ‘Hymie Takes a Hint’, ‘Claret and Blue Jew’, ‘Weekend Pass’, and ‘The Immortal Utterings of Moishe Seratsky’.
From a very different direction there are the academic authors whose research and teaching interests cross the humanities and social science disciplines with a focus on Auto/Biography. The eminent Professors of history, and the productive, prolific, IT literate historian and blogger, Richard Brown. One of our recent authors is Roger Wotton, Emeritus Professor of Biology at University College London, who has written a book that rather uniquely combines Natural History with autobiography and biography, in a study of the Victorian Natural historian, Philip Henry Gosse. We have the pleasure of adding the eminent Ornithologist and Natural Historan, John F. Burton to our list, whose book was recently published in January 2014 and of which Stephen Moss of BBC’s Spring Watch fame contributed the Foreword. And this year we have been joined by John Taylor whose memoir of a life in agriculture entitled From Pushchair to Ploughshare: A Yorkshire Farmer’s Tale, is jam-packed with funny anecdotes but shot through with sadness too. ‘Sunshine and showers’ is how John describes his book.
Lastly, there are the ‘great and the good’ who have written Forewords and other contributions to our authors’ books: Michael Freedland (journalist and broadcaster); Baroness Fookes, DBE, DL; Lord Hennessy (journalist, broadcaster and Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary, University of London); Lord Triesman of Tottenham; the late Emeritus Professor John Rule (University of Southampton), Professor Roger Burt, (University of Exeter), Dr Peter Catterall (University of Westminster) and Emeritus Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, FRS and President of the Zoological Society of London.
- Welcome Sir Patrick Bateson, FRS (cliopublishing.wordpress.com)