Alumni Authors - March 2017

Here’s a round-up of the latest books published by Exeter alumni writers. If you studied at Exeter and you’ve recently published a book let us know by emailing with a synopsis of the book, an image and your biography and we will feature it in Alumni Authors

ANJIN - The Life & Times of Samurai William Adams, 1564-1620

“This is the real story that inspired James Clavell’s blockbuster novel Shogun and it is every bit as extraordinary. From ship-wrecked sailor and wretched prisoner, Adams rose to become one of the closest advisors to Japan’s most respected Shogun and the achievements of Miura Anjin, as he was known, are still celebrated in Japan today.

Drawing on her native knowledge and on research skills gained at Exeter, Hiromi Rogers (PhD, 2001) uncovers Japanese sources never before translated into English to take us closer to the definitive account of Adams’ life as a samurai lord and of the mistakes and misunderstandings, very relevant today, that scuppered England’s first ‘trade deal’ with Japan.”

Available from Orca Book Services with £9.95 discount for Exeter alumni. Contact or call 01235 465577.   

Thomas Churchyard: Pen, Sword, and Ego by Dr Matthew Woodcock

Soldier, courtier, author, entertainer, and amateur spy, Thomas Churchyard (c.1529-1604) saw action in most of the principal Tudor theatres of war, was a servant to five monarchs, and had a literary career spanning over half a century during which time he produced over fifty different works in a variety of forms and genres.

Churchyard’s struggles to subsist as an author and soldier provides an unrivalled opportunity to examine the self-promotional strategies employed by an individual who attempts to make a living from both writing and fighting, and who experiments throughout his life with ways in which the arts of the pen and sword may be reconciled and aligned.

In this new literary biography Matthew Woodcock (BA in English Literature with Medieval Studies, 1995) reconstructs the extraordinary life of a figure well-known yet long neglected in early modern literary studies. We’re all familiar with twentieth-century examples of war poetry and the soldier-poet, but this book examines a much earlier form of this authorial model and offers a significant exploration of relationships between literature and the military in the early modern period. Churchyard’s writings drew heavily upon his own experiences at court and in the wars, and the author never tired of drawing attention to the struggles he endured throughout his life. Writing this book therefore raised wider methodological questions about how we go about constructing the biography of an individual who was consistently preoccupied with telling his own story.

To purchase the book please visit the OUP website.

Kent's Industrial Heritage by James Preston

Kent was one of the most industrialised counties in the south of England supporting, over the centuries, activities from iron smelting and woollen textiles, to the production of gunpowder, papermaking, brewing, cement and brickmaking, engineering and coal mining. Technological and structural change has seen the disappearance of swathes of these activities and their premises become 'brownfield sites' ripe for redevelopment. 'Kent's Industrial Heritage' draws attention to some of the most important industrial sites in a county which is usually viewed in terms of hops and cherries as the 'Garden of England', or the destination for daytrips to the seaside.

James Preston (Economics and Economic History 1961, Post graduate D.P.A. 1962, PGCE St Lukes College 1963) lectured in Further, Higher and Adult Education. Currently Industrial Archaeology Officer for the Council for Kentish Archaeology and chairman of the Industrial Committee of the K.A.S. Publications include 'Industrial Medway', 'Aveling and Porter Ltd.' and 'Malting and Malthouses in Kent'.

The book can be purchased from the publishers website.


Castles of the Marches by John Kinross

John Kinross (MA Naval History, 1995) explores the fascinating history behind the castles of Herefordshire, Shropshire and the Welsh border. Areas characterised by their rural beauty and agricultural charm, it is no surprise that they are home to such extraordinary relics. From the majestic Goodrich Castle, which is situated on the River Wye and boasts one of the most intact sets of medieval domestic buildings surviving today, to the red sandstone fort at Shrewsbury, protected by the River Severn, each site tells a different tale.

The castles of Herefordshire and Shropshire form the background of this book, but the Marcher Court, based at Ludlow Castle, controlled all legal affairs in the area of the Southern Marches. In the north the northern court was based at Chester Castle until being moved to Rhuddlan when the Welsh ceased to cause rebellions. Thus Cheshire castles are included plus the mighty Welsh castles like Chirk and Chepstow.

The book can be purchased from the publisher's website.


Battlefields of England and Scotland by John Kinross

The battlefields of England and Scotland are a strongly neglected but important part of our national heritage, and what remains today and the current usage of the sites is very varied. Some like Bosworth and Culloden have modern visitor centres, shops and cafes, and others such as Homildon Hill and Edgecote have nothing at all. From King Alfred's victory over the Danes at Ashdown in 871 to the defeat of the Jacobites in the April show at Culloden in 1746, this book, by John Kinross (MA Naval History, 1995) covers seventy battles that took place in England and Scotland. The author gives each battle its historical context, describes the action in relation to the landscape and discusses the remains of the site and what can be found today.

The book can be purchased from the publisher's website.


Deeper than Indigo: Tracing Thomas Machell, forgotten explorer by Jenny Balfour-Paul (due out in early June 2017)

Victorian traveller Thomas Machell, born in 1824, left the Northern family rectory at sixteen to fulfil his childhood dream of travelling to the East. By chance, he witnessed many important historical events, including the ‘First Opium War’ and ‘Indian Mutiny’. He spent most of his adult life in India; the author tracks him to indigo plantations in rural Bengal and Bangladesh, to coffee estates in Kerala’s Malabar Hills, to unexplored regions of central India and to the city of Calcutta. Machell also travelled up the Indus River to the North-West Frontier and by sea from India to Egypt with Muslim merchants.

The author, Jenny Balfour-Paul (PhD, 1994), voyages aboard the last freighter to take passengers from UK to India, facing the same threat of pirate attack in the Red Sea as Machell. She also follows in his wake by cargo ship to the most remote Polynesian islands, setting for his passionate love affair, and seeks his colourful descendants in the New World.

Exeter alumni can pre-order the book from the publishers and receive a 20% discount with the code DTI17. 

Reeds Introductions: Physics Wave Concepts for Marine Engineering Applications by Dr Chris Lavers and Sara-Kate Lavers

Dr Chris Lavers (Physics, 1987) has published a book with his daughter, current University of Exeter Physics student, Sara-Kate Lavers.

The publication covers fundamental theoretical maritime physics concepts which underpin electromagnetic wave and sonar principles as developed in most maritime-related courses, whether Naval, Coastguard or Merchant Marine engineering.

Together they have also worked on a question-solutions book to partner the Introductions’ series: Physics Wave Questions for Marine Engineering Applications. This book provides a comprehensive series of questions with worked solutions and looks at maritime physics and marine engineering principles, providing a firm foundation prior to reading and studying both Reeds’ Engineering and Introductions Series. Students are provided with solutions to common problems to prepare them for more in depth study.

Copies of the book can be purchased from the publishers.