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Writers in Oxford
- David Jefferis is the author of more than fifty non-fiction
books on science, mainly written for children. He also runs
Alpha Communications, a publishing enterprise which produces
such books, and which is based at Brill.
www.amandahellberg.com - Amanda Hellberg, originally from
Sweden, moved to England in 2000 to finish her MA at the University
of Sussex. Now living in Oxford, she works as a writer and children's
book illustrator. Her website presents a portfolio of her work
as an illustrator.
- In a series of lyrical essays, now collected in her first
Between Two Worlds, Anita Mathias writes of her Catholic
childhood in Jamshedpur, India, her large, eccentric, extended
family in Mangalore, her rebellion and atheism as a teenager
in a Himalayan convent and her subsequent conversion and entry
as a novice into Mother Teresa's order in Calcutta.
- To say that this is Andrew Chapman's website would be
like mistaking a map of the underground for the railway it represents.
He's also the creator or co-creator of Thoughtplay, of the publisher reverb books, of Who Should You Vote For?
and What Should I Read Next?
as well as Qurl
and Blind Atlas (to name but a few).
- Cindy Jefferies used to be a bookseller until, in response
to her grumbles about being a frustrated writer, her son suggested
she should write a book for him. She did and it was accepted
by the editor who discovered J. K Rowling.
D'Arcy Adrian-Vallance, a founder member of Writers in
Oxford, writes textbooks and reading materials for learners
of English worldwide.
- Edward Fenton, who was editor of The Oxford Writer
from February 2005 until February 2009, is both an author and
a publisher. He specialises in rescuing diaries of historical
note and publishing or re-publishing them. His website documents
the results of this unusual publishing enterprise.
- Dennis Hamley writes children's and young adult books, including
The War and Freddy, Andre Deutsch 1991 (Smarties shortlist);
Out of the Mouths of Babes, Scholastic 1997; Ellen's People,
Walker Books 2006. he took over the editorship of The Oxford
Writer in 2009.
- Donna Dickenson describes herself on her new website as an
'author, activist and academic' - in that order. She holds a
chair in law and philosophy at Birkbeck College, has a particular
interest in the stem cell debate, and has written critical biographies
of Emily Dickinson and George Sand.
- Margaret Stearn is a doctor and medical writer who also edits
a clinical journal. She is the author of Embarrassing Problems
(1988) which has recently been expanded and reissued under
the title The Must-Have Health Guide (2005). This is
the website of the book.
- Frank Egerton is a literary journalist and author of the novel
The Lock. Frank was until 2003 the editor of The
Oxford Writer, the newsletter of Writers in Oxford. He reviews
regularly for The Times. He also works part-time as a
library cataloguer at the Oxford Union.
- Georgina Ferry is a former New Scientist writer and
contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Science Now.
Her first book was a biography of Dorothy Hodgkin. In the Guardian
review of her latest book, a biography of Max Perutz, Giles
Foden wrote that ‘Georgina Ferry . . . is rapidly turning
into the most interesting science writer going’.
- Helen Rappaport is a historian and Russianist who has
written about Stalin and the Crimean War and worked on a number
of new translations of Chekhov. See also the website for the
historical thriller, Dark Hearts of Chicago, which
she wrote with William Horwood, a founder member of the society
hughmcmanners.com - Hugh McManners is the author of fifteen
books on military subjects and outdoor activities, including
Forgotten Voices of the Falklands (2007).
During the Falklands war he fought with the Special Boat Service.
He is a former Sunday Times defence correspondent,
a TV presenter and singer and guitarist with the Bash
Band - 'a serious rock band with attitude.'
- Ian Campbell Thomson is the author of a number of autobiographical
works, including The Hired Lad, a nostalgic tale of
a naive young man's efforts to gain a foothold on the farming
ladder in Scotland just after the second world war.
- Jane Owen, the Times Online
garden correspondent, presented Gardens Through Time
with Diarmuid Gavin, on BBC2. Her book of the series is published
by BBC Worldwide. She currently writes a gardening
blog for the Times.
- Jane Gordon-Cumming is a romantic novelist whose first novel,
A Proper Family Christmas, was recently published by
- Jane Robinson's first book, Wayward Travellers,
offered an anecdote-rich guide to 400 women travellers; her
most recent book was Mary Seacole, a biography of the
charismatic black nurse of the Crimea who was called ‘a
heroine’ by The Times and ‘a brothel-keeping
quack’ by Florence Nightingale.
Janie Hampton is the author of fifteen books. She has been a
journalist in Africa, a producer at the BBC World Service, has
worked for The Arvon Foundation and, as part of the Year of
the Artist in 2001, she was the first Arts Council sponsored
writer-in-residence in a pub. Her most recent book is The
Austerity Olympics – about the 1948 London games.
joannakenrick.com - Joanna Kenrick's Moondance,
a picture book for children, was published in 2004. Since then
she has had four more books published. The most recent, Red
Tears, is a novel for teenagers about cutting and self-harm
which was published by Faber in 2007. 'And no, before you ask,'
she writes on her website, 'I have never self-harmed . . .'
- Julia Cresswell is the author of over a dozen books all
of which are connected with the history and development of words
and languages or where our ideas come from.
- Juliet McKenna studied Greek and Roman history at St Hilda's,
Oxford before pursuing her interest in myth and history as successful
writer of fantasy novels. Her first novel, The Thief's Gamble,
('a beautifully drawn world with a rich history . . . and a
plot that drags you along at breakneck speed') led to a five-volume
series and she has since completed a second series.
- Julie Summers is a biographer and historian, whose latest
book looks behind the myth created by Bridge on the River
Kwai in order to tell the true story behind the film. Julie
is the former chair of Writers in Oxford.
- Karen Ralls is a mediaeval scholar and Celtic specialist.
Formerly Deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel Museum near Edinburgh,
she now works full-time as an author, lecturer and guide.
Leslie Wilson's novel for young adults, The Last Train to
Kummersdorf, was short-listed for the 2004 Guardian Children’s
Books prize. Her website introduces this and some of her other
- Lorna Fergusson, whose first novel, The Chase,
was published by Bloomsbury, spends some of her time teaching
creative writing. One of her students suggested that she should
take to blogging and she did. literascribe
- 'a writer's take on the business of books and the writing
life' is the result.
- Malcolm Pryce spent his childhood in Aberystwyth. He worked
for a year on BMW's production line before reading German at
Warwick University and becoming 'the world's worst aluminium
salesman'. After being fired he became by turns a copywriter
in London, a South Seas deckhand and an Asian vagabond before
writing his first crime novel, Aberystwyth Mon Amour.
For the full version of his potted biography, click here.
- Margaret Pelling came to Oxford from a Cardiff council estate
in the 1960s to read physics. She met and married a classicist
who is now the Regius Professor of Greek, abandoned research
astrophysics and became a civil servant in Whitehall. In her
late 40s, her imagination was rekindled by her ten-year-old
daughter and she began to write fiction ‘under the desk’.
In 2005, her first novel, Work for Four Hands, was
maryhoffman.co.uk - Mary Hoffman is a successful children's
author who has written about eighty books, including the picture
book Amazing Grace, the Stravaganza series of
novels and the anti-war anthology Lines in the Sand.
megankerr.co.uk - Megan Kerr describes herself as a ‘writer
and ghostwriter, a poet, an amateur photographer, a sometime
academic, and a closet geek’. The website she recently
built for herself is a glorious feast of colour. It is also
ingenious, including a free
database for writers, which is designed to write your letters,
suggest publishers and calculate your tax (together with much
michaelgross.co.uk - Michael Gross is a science writer in
residence at the School of Crystallography, Birkbeck College,
London and author of general science books such as Life
on the Edge (1998) and Travels to the Nanoworld (1999).
- Mike Philbin's first published short story appeared in New
York in 1985. His first novel, Red Hedz, was published
by the Creation Press in 1990. He describes himself as a psycho-erotic
writer and says: 'I detest the mainstream. I cannot understand
how such Franchise Writing can satisfy the creative needs of
newberyandengland.com - Elizabeth Newbery specialises in
writing and producing museum guides for children. The guide
she produced recently for the Tower of London, Tower Power,
won the Best Museum Publication Award for 2005.
Nigel Warburton is best known for his introductory books on
philosophy, which include Philosophy: The Basics, Thinking
from A to Z, and are published by Routledge. This is his
new ‘virtual philosopher’ blog. (For his Open University
webpage, which includes links to articles and interviews, go
- Peter Groves is a solicitor specialising in copyright, trade
marks and design protection. He has written seven books and numerous
articles, and maintains a couple of legal blogs as well as his
personal one (see www.ipso-jure.blogspot.com). He also contributes
race reviews to Runner's World.
- Peter Gutteridge is a novelist, the crime fiction critic for
the Observer, and the author of a series of satirical
crime novels featuring Nick Madrid. ( 'The funniest crime novel
of the year, Publishing News; 'Jokes are delivered
with the speed and accuracy of a gatling gun' Telegraph)
philip-pullman.com - Philip Pullman was one of the earliest
members of WiO and for several years designed the newsletter.
The site listed here is Philip's own. But there are many Pullman
sites, one of the best of which is
- Peter Stalker trained as a scientist but now specialises
in economic and social issues - and particularly in international
migration. He is the author of a number of books on this subject
including the No-Nonsense Guide to International Migration.
He is also the editor of the Jericho
Echo, a community newsletter - and he designs websites.
reneeholler.com - Born in Würzburg, Renée Holler
moved to Munich when she was eight, discovered Enid Blyton and
resolved to become an author and a detective. She hasn't yet
achieved the second ambition but has written a series of historical
thrillers for children as well as non-fiction books about marbles,
tops and babies. Her website (like her books) is in German.
- Anthropology begins at home in these sceptical essays
and reviews by Richard Webster, whose most recent book, The
Secret of Bryn Estyn: The Making of a Modern Witch Hunt,
was shorlisted for the Orwell Prize for political writing.
- Rebecca Loncraine spent her early childhood in her
parents’ antique shop. They then moved to a hill farm
in the Black Mountains. The farm is linked in her imagination
to fairy-tales, forests and ancient winding paths. It is this,
she believes, which led her to embark on writing a book about
fairy-tales in the form of a biography of L Frank Baum, author
of The Wizard of Oz.
- Rita Carter is the author of the internationally bestselling
book on the workings of the human brain, Mapping the Mind
and, more recently of Consciousness. Her new book,
Multiplicity, will be published in 2008. Check out
the articles page of her website to test whether you suffer
from gorilla blindness.
- The site set up by WiO member Rob Bailey and his co-author
Ed Hurst to help publicise their book about British place names.
samjordison.blogspot.com - Sam Jordison is the
author of Crap Towns (which includes an interesting
entry on Oxford) and The Joy of Sects. This is his
- Rob Walters began his writing career as an author of technical
books about computer telephony and related subjects. He is now
branching out in other directions as can be seen from the writing
page of his website.
- As a keen member of a local amateur dramatic society, Stephen
Briggs began his writing career by adapting Monty Python and
Tom Sharpe for the stage. Then he wrote the first stage adaptation
of a Terry Pratchett novel, at which point, as he puts it 'my
life passed into another leg of the trousers of time'.
- Susan Biggin is a physicist and materials scientist who
has spent twenty years as an editor, translator and science
writer, working mainly for the United Nations. She is now based
in Oxford and Trieste.
- Stephen Law is a drummer, a mountaineer, a university lecturer
and the author of The Philosophy Gym and The Philosophy
Files. He has a particular interest in children's philosophy
and critical thinking. This is the website he has set up with
fellow philosopher (and fellow WiO member) Nigel Warburton.
- Gail Simmons turned to travel writing after a varied career
which included listing historic buildings for English Heritage.
Her website contains links to her articles, which have appeared
in the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph, the
Independent and elsewhere.
trevormostyn.com - Having hitch-hiked to India and Afghanistan
in 1965, Trevor Mostyn became a provincial journalist in England
before reading Arabic and Persian at Edinburgh University. Ever
since he has worked as a journalist and consultant specialising
in the Middle East. He was recently made senior adviser to the
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in Oxford.
- Katharine Ainger, co-editor of the New Internationalist,
was a member of the editorial collective that produced We
Are Everywhere: the irresistible rise of global anti-capitalism,
Verso, 2003. This is the website of the book.
- Perilla Kinchin is both an author and a publisher. Her company,
White Cockade Publishing, produces books in the field of architectural,
design and social history, including several on Glasgow.
Information on The Trout - after the refurbishment
On 23 March 2007 The Trout at Wolvercote, a pub with long literary
associations, re-opened after being refurbished at a cost which
probably approached £1 million. Ever since then the debate
over what happened has raged incessantly on this fascinating page.
It’s now been going on for over a year and it’s far
from over yet.
up the entire contents of your computer automatically as you work
'We don't protect what we don't value. We insure
our cars, our homes, our lives. We lock up our office filing cabinets
and keep a tight hand on our purses in crowds. Why aren’t
we as careful with our writing? If we’re not protecting
our work, that must mean we don’t value it.’ This
was the thought prompted in the mind of one
writer when a friend had a laptop stolen and with it the only
draft of the novel she was writing. Do you back up your masterpiece
every evening when you finish work? Probably not. In which case
you might want to sign up for Carbonite's
automatic online backup service. For £25 a year Carbonite
will keep an encrypted copy (in Boston) of everything you have
on your computer's hard disc. Then every 24 hours they'll update
any file you’ve added to or altered. PC World said:
‘Online backup done well. You set it up once and after that
it just works.’ The system doesn’t work for Macs but
see below for an alternative that does.
THE FATAL FLAW - WARNING There
is a problem with the Carbonite system which needs urgent attention,
and this message will remain until such time as the problem is
dealt with. The potentially devastating snag is that Carbonite
allows users to tick an option on every file which says 'Don't
back up files of this type'. No explanation is given of what this
actually means but the consequences of ticking it could be disastrous.
If, for example, this option is selected for a file in Microsoft
Word then it means that every Word file will be deleted from Carbonite’s
back-up of your computer. This happens without any warning and
innocent Carbonite users who don't double-check may go months
(or years!) without realising that their Word files are not being
backed up at all. You have been warned.
- Back up your Mac Hugh
McManners writes: ‘Perhaps members would be interested
in an on-line backup service for Macs – which can’t
use Carbonite or the other main
on-line backup services – called Mozy (www.mozy.com).
I’ve been using it for a couple of months and it’s
completely background and therefore effective. It took literally
ten days to upload all my files (I’m a photographer too),
but it resumed wherever a disconnection had left it, and is updates
automatically every 24 hours - or when ever I need it in between.
It works via their website, with a simple file system that selects
where your files are likely to be as a default. When you
need to download something, the site informs you by email when
the files are ready for you to http; a bit slow apparently, but
Up to 2GB are free, thereafter you have unlimited storage for
just less than £3pcm, which is much cheaper than others
If you are researching a biography and need to know
what day of the week 10 June 1874 was, what do you do? Click on
the link above and, in an instant, you can create your own calendar
for June 1874. Invaluable for biographers, journalists, historians,
historical novelists (and anyone who wants to know which day of
the week they were born on). Goes back to January 1000 and forward
(for sci-fi writers) to December 9999.
As its name suggests, this site will convert anything - money,
measurements, weights, volume etc.
scanning of manuscripts and documents
Do you have an unpublished masterpiece lying in the attic or mouldering
in the garden shed, one you can't revise on your computer because
it belongs to the age of the typewriter? Scanning by hand takes
for ever, so the solution is to take it to a document scanning
bureau. Oddly, Oxford itself seems sparsely provided with these
(please alert the website editor if you know of one). But Symtronics
Ltd of Abingdon will usually be able to do the job for you while
you wait. For £25 + VAT they will scan approximately 400
A4 pages into TIF or PDF format, from which you can then extract
text in digital form for editing or typesetting. That includes
a CD with a printed label. (If you take your own USB key, it will
only cost you £20. This is the minimum charge so 100 pages
will cost the same as 400.)
inquiries - BT
It’s surprising how many people seem unaware that the entire
BT telephone directory for the UK is available online free
of charge - complete with addresses. Not as useful as the WiO
directory but the next best thing.
Are you male or female? You may feel that
that this is not the most pressing question that confronts you
in your life as a writer, or alternatively that it was answered
to your satisfaction long ago. But for those who are curious,
webpage will analyse a sample of your writing (it needs 300
words at least) and tell you whether it thinks you’re male
or female. It will even give you a percentage score. Of course
it’s not really useful at all but it is fun and fascinating.
And if you’re interested in the underlying principles on
which the Gender guesser is based, the accompanying paper
on the differences between male and female language is worth a
The telephone numbers for many overseas countries can be found
through this site.
no to 0870
Depending on how your phone bill is calculated, calling 0870 numbers
can cost 1400% more than calling ordinary 'geographic' phone numbers.
This is partly because these numbers can generate revenue at the
rate of almost 2p a minute for the firms that use them. This useful
site lists thousands of alternative numbers for many large UK
firms which use non-geographic 0870 (or 'local rate' 0845) numbers.
It also gives freephone numbers and even gives a telephone number
for Amazon's customer services department.
Can’t remember how to get to the venue for the next
Drinks and Digressions? Look up your host in the WiO directory,
type their postal code into multimap and a local map will appear.
Works just as well for more remote destinations. (But see below
on how to make long Multimap URLs into tiny ones).
around the world
Need to telephone your Japanese translator but not sure whether
they'll be awake? Click on the link above to find out.
URLs - how to shorten long website addresses
Are you tired of pasting long URLs from newspapers or map sites
into emails only to have them break in half and become unusable.
Why not use TinyURL.com to create
a brief URL that will not break in emails and never expires. If
you follow the instructions on the site and install TinyURL.com
on your links toolbar (see below) you can create tiny URLs (24
characters as opposed to, say, 200) in a matter of seconds.
toner refill you do yourself
Laser toner cartridges must be among the most wasteful technologies
ever invented. This website seems to have the answer. It's not
free but it should save you money.
So you have your website and it’s
listed as one of the 45 links to members’ websites which
appear on this page. But will your link stand out in crowded favourites
lists or show up on the address bar like the WiO website now does?
If not you need a website logo or ‘favicon’. Click
on the link above and make your own. Free.