Here you will find reference to some of the books I find inspiring, and which help to inform my lines of thought about historical investigation. Enjoy browsing!

All titles can be obtained via the wonderful independent bookshop in Penzance:

Books !

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Ancient woodlands of the Helford River
Tehidy and the Bassets
Nurse at the Russian Front
Weirdest People in the World

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A Time of Gifts

Patrick Leigh Fermor

One of my favourite books! At the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out to walk across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul, though he only wrote it up much later in his life, from notes taken at the time. His writing is lyrical, and infused with the sense of adventure and learning as he continually meets new cultures and people. Armchair tourism - of place and time - at it's best!

Between the Woods and the Water

Patrick Leigh Fermor

The second part of Patrick Leigh Fermor's walk through Europe between the First and Second World Wars, taking the reader on a journey through eastern Europe - beautifully written.

The Broken Road

Patrick Leigh Fermor

The third volume of Patrick Leigh Fermor's walk across pre-Second World War Europe, compiled by two editors after it was left unfinished at his death, though still very recognisably in his wonderful prose.

Mani - travels in the Southern Peloponnese

Patrick Leigh Fermor

Travelling in the 1950s and early 60s, Patrick Leigh Fermor encountered a rural Greece that has now disappeared, populated by migrant shepherds and dotted by villages with distinct and varied traditions. A fascinating insight into a lost world of textures and individualism.

A Time to keep Silent

Patrick Leigh Fermor

In an attempt to write-up the manuscript that would become 'A time of gifts', Patrick Leigh Fermor spent some time in the silent monastries of northern France, and here he describes the experience of both these days, and later explorations of the rural monastries in Turkey. A reflective and absorbing chronicle.

Inglorious Empire - what the British did to India

Shashi Tharoor

An engaging history of the British in India, from the perspective of the Indian continent, looking outwards. Tharoor's writing cuts clearly to the core of the matter in a very approachable way, while keeping a sharp eye on providing substantive evidence for his opinion. An approachable and thought-provoking read.

Lime Street at Two

Helen Forrester

This is the fourth of the series of autobiographies that so graphically recreate the experience of life in Liverpool in the 1930s and through the Second World War; this volume is of the War period, containing graphic descriptions of the Blitz, and the struggle for survival at a time when living standards for many people was well below what we would now consider acceptable.

Half the Way Home: a memoir of Father and Son

Adam Hochschild

Perhaps one of my favourite books; Adam charts the path of his life as an only child born in to a wealthy family, and the obstacles encountered in building a meaningful relationship with his father. Very human, very personal, and very engaging.

Bury the Chains

Adam Hochschild

Sharp and direct, this book looks clearly at the strands of history that led to the abolition of slavery in Britain in 1833, finding the stories of the less well-known people who contributed to the success of William Wilberforce, who saw the Slavery Abolition Act pass just 3 days before his death.

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England

Ian Mortimer

A book which is perfectly described by its title! Travel back in time and see how every-day society functioned at a time we more often associate with the acts of Kings and Queens. Very entertaining and informative.


Nigel Slater

Despite having been identified as a less than accurate record of the reality of Nigel slater's stepmum, this book is a fascinating read for the sense of place it creates of life as a young child in the 1970s. It revolves largely around food - as the title suggests - but is a moving, perceptive portrayal of Nigel's early childhood.

Shadows of the Workhouse

Jennifer Worth

1950s East End of London, from the perspective of a midwife