Ian Mortimer


What's New?

29 March 2021
New audio interview about Regency Britain

A little while ago I did an interview with Taylor Kniphfer and Lonny Gomes for their PennyDog podcast about Regency authors and various aspects of The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain. It was great fun. I've been in touch with Taylor by email for many years, so it was a wonderful experience finally to have a conversation via zoom. The podcast is available at PennyDog podcast.

26 March 2021
German, Chinese, Spanish and Korean editions

Piper Verlag will publish a German edition of The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain in Autumn 2022, following their publication of the paperback of the Elizabethan one, under the title Shakespeares Welt, in the spring. Capitán Swing Libros will publish a Spanish edition of The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England. China Times will publish a new Taiwanese edition of Centuries of Change. Hyeonamsa will publish a Korean edition of Centuries of Change.

This very welcome news means that my books will be available in fifteen foreign languages. One or more of my history books appears - or is set to appear - in German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Estonian, Russian, Polish, Simplified Chinese, Complex Chinese, Japanese and Korean; in addition, my James Forrester novels were translated into Danish, Latvian, Hungarian and Czech.

23 March 2021
Article on the Spetchley Park books sale

An article I wrote about today's sale of books from Spetchley Park library, and what they reveal as a group about changing attitudes since the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, is now available on the Telegraph website.

22 March 2021
Update - after too long a time, I know

I apologise if anyone has been looking at this page for news of what I've been up to. Almost a quarter of the new year has already passed. Perhaps a fuller update now will do something to make up for it.

Very sadly, my aunt, Jenefer, was taken from the family by Covid-19 in January. As I said in my eulogy at her funeral, she was a lady who dedicated her entire life to the family, and my brothers and I were very close to her when growing up. In later years, one of my cousins held an annual party for the whole extended family and Jenefer always enjoyed it mightily, and was keen to hear everyone's news. She was also the last link with the world of the family before the last war, when they lived in Plymouth; she was always very keen to tell me all about those days, and what my late father, John Stephen Mortimer, was like as a boy, and what my grandparents were like before they grew old. She is going to be very much missed.

The publication of The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain has led to a few online talks, which I have very much enjoyed. For those in the USA, terms have been agreed with the publishers of the hardcopy and ebook (Pegasus) and the audiobook (Tantor). I believe the latter is scheduled for 2022; not sure about the former. I have also signed a contract with Piper Verlag for the German edition, wich is scheduled for hardback publication in the autumn of 2022.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, I cannot work on the book I am meant to be writing at the moment, The Warrior of the Roses: the life of Richard, duke of York, which is under contract with The Bodley Head. In the meantime, I carried out some local research and wrote two articles for the Transactions of the Devonshire Association. One is entitled 'The Location and Extent of King Alfred’s Suðewyrðe'. This shows - in three separate ways - why we can be confident that the Domesday estate Sutreworthe was synonymous with Lustleigh, putting the question beyond doubt. The article also shows that Sutreworthe was previously a royal manor, and so were parts of the manor of Bovey Tracey. In this way the Anglo-Saxon estate of Suðewyrðe is reconstructed, in part at least. This was left by Alfred the Great to his younger son, Aethelweard, and returned to the royal family after the death of both of Aethelweard's sons at the Battle of Brunanburgh in 937. The granting out of the land piecemeal between 937 and 1016 allows us to reconstitute the farms of the Wray Valley in the tenth century.

The other article for the Transactions of the Devonshire Association is entitled 'The development of three twelfth-century hill farms in Moretonhampstead'. This work was triggered by my accidentally coming across a published calendar of an entry in a medieval cartulary relating to Bowdon, Cranbrook and Willingston farms in the north of Moretonhampstead parish and realising the last-mentioned one had been misidentified by the authors of The Place Names of Devon. I mentioned this to a friend of mine who replied, 'You do realise that calendared version misses out a line, don't you?' I didn't. Anyway, he kindly sent me a copy photograph of the original 13th-century document in the British Library and, having seen the missing line, I immediately realised the potential to reconstruct not just early names but the development of the whole area, from pre-1170 to post-1200. As the land is high-altitude, this was very exciting because it allowed me to gauge how densely settled the locality was at that early date, as well as changes in the way the manor was run. A third piece of research, into the freehold sales in the manor in the later Middle Ages, was put on pause, so as not to overwhelm the editor. The two pieces mentioned above should appear in the forthcoming edition of Transactions.

My next project is an experiment. It is a history of England with a twist. I am writing it from the point of view of those who have lived in this house. And before this house was built (15th century) those who lived in the previous houses on the site, since the foundation of Moreton in the 8th century. It is provisionally called The History of England through the Windows of an Ordinary House - because you look IN through windows as well as look out of them. The ambition is to write a book that is a political narrative (in part) as well as a social history and a local history. It might prove unpublishable in the end - but so what? Not enough people experiment with literary form in non-fiction, in my opinion, so this is my tuppeny-worth contributiion to a new form of historical literature.

For anyone who is wondering whether I am still running, the answer is yes. My regime these days is to balance running and walking, 50:50, to avoid another stress fracture (I've now had five), and to cover 400Km (250 miles) in this way, on average, every month. The rule I set myself to avoid physical damage is this: if I run 7K or more one day, I have to take the next day off running; if I run more than 15K, I have to take the following 2 days off. I can't say I have been writing much about runnning in lockdown but I have been thinking of doing so, and probably will return to writing about the meaning of running in due course.

Finally, may I wish all my readers a very, very belated - but no less sincere - Happy New Year. Perhaps we will get to enjoy more of this one than we did of the last.

What was new in other years