Ian Mortimer


What's New?

16 July 2018
The Outcasts of Time

Paperback copies of The Outcasts of Time arrived on my doorstep this morning. Very pleased with the way Simon & Schuster have produced them. I read last week in The Bookseller that the book was eleventh on the Audible.co.uk chart for June 2018, having been a daily deal at the start of the month. It continues to divide readers. Some love it more than anything else I've published; others seem almost angry that it doesn't have a plot, thereby missing the point, that time does not have a plot. If you're looking for a thrilling plot-driven traditional hsitorical novel, then this is not for you. But if you want to understand time passing in England from the fourteenth century until the twentieth, with many of the social continuities, changes and permanent life-affirming values that are to be found across those six hundred years, then please do give it a go. It does in a novel more or less what my time travellers' guides do in non-fiction.

29 June 2018
Documentary Enlightenment

Yesterday I gave a talk at the National Archives entitled 'Documentary Enlightenment: the death of Edward II and the principles of historical methodology'. In this I explained how the debate about the death of Edward II has come to act as a magnifiying glass on academic behaviour and methodological skills, and how arguments have been advanced in defiance of basic core priciples. I outlined eight principles within the 60 minutes I had at my disposal:

  1. Without evidence, there is no history.
  2. All historical argument must proceed from evidence.
  3. Written evidence is only as reliable as the information available to the author.
  4. Evidence never exists in isolation.
  5. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, except where a dataset is known to be complete.
  6. Motive is not evidence.
  7. Evidence is not proof.
  8. A circular argument indicates an unresolved conflict of evidence.

The text of the speech is freely available here (for a short period only).

25 June 2018
Torbay Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran the Torbay half marathon, with my friend the art historian Jonathan Camp (pictured with me below) and my son Alexander. All of us finished in under two hours, although I have to confess my time was four minutes outside my best. But my pace was the only slight negative. Great event, well organised, very friendly - and enormous fun to run with such company, and even to be persuaded to go for a swim in the sea straight afterwards. And then head for a pint in the most glorious Devon weather. And head home to enjoy Moretonhampstead's Music Day. Life doesn't get much better. Except that then I can get up and work on my speech, 'Documentary Enlightenment', for this coming Thursday, at the National Archives, which I am really enjoying. And editing my book, Why Running Matters, and working on The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain.

8 May 2018
Spring has finally come to Devon

It's taken its time but Spring has come to Dartmoor and once again we can all smile at the beauty of the this part of Devon. Went on a walk yesterday afternoon and took this snap between Moreton and Chagford, near Weeke. It sums up what I love about the area: the lushness of the grass, the curves of the hills, the freedom of the high moor, the ancient houses, the lack of modern interruptions, the feeling of timelessness and the sense of place.

20 April 2018
The Shakespeare Authorship Debate - reprised

I was asked to repeat my lecture on 'The Shakespeare Authorship Debate and Historical Responsibility' at the Reform Club yesterday. It seemed appropriate to write a short preface to explain why, which I have added to my essays page. The original speech, delivered in Exeter Cathedral in 2015, may be purchased from amazon.co.uk.

20 March 2018
... And after I complained about the heavy snow that came after the incessant rain...

... then we were blessed with even more snow. Oh, heavens! I'm going to be fat soon at this rate, stuck in doors and not running. Anyway, with that in mind, I did get out for a walk with my son Oliver (15). And it was well worthwhile, as this picture shows:

But after three days of staring at the white stuff, for the second time this year, the novelty started to wear off. So I resorted to photographing my new paperback standing in the garden.

3 March 2018
Well, I said I wanted it to stop raining...

... and so we get snow. Piles of it. Moretonhampstead is still cut off to all those who don't have a tractor or serious all-terrain vehicle. But it looks beautiful - which somewhat makes up for the incessant cold and the lack of opportunity to go running.

Meanwhile work on The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain continues apace. Fascinating period. I was amazed by Carl Moritz's accounts of the number of times he was refused accommodation at an inn because he was on foot, and the innkeepers presumed that pedestrians were basically vagabonds - even though Moritz was a German theologian and essayist. I don't think I'd have coped well with the class distinctions of the late eighteenth century, which seem more unnecessary than those of earlier times.

23 January 2018
I wish it would stop raining...

It seems I get wet every time I step outside my front door these days. I only have to glance wistfully at my walking boots and there's a downpour. So, as I don't much relish walking in the rain, I've been doing more running. This will be the third month in a row that I've run over a hundred miles.

On the writing front, work continues with The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain, although I'm still doing talks on the Restoration volume. Eksmo are going to bring out a Russian edition of my novel, The Outcasts of Time (which has just been published in the USA), and Piper Verlag are planning a German edition of my Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England - although they will call it 'Shakespeare's England' (with my blessing).

What was new in previous years