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Writers in Oxford members’ websites

  • - 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.

  • - 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 book, Wandering 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 -

  • - 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 Transita.

  • - 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.

  • NEW 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.

  • - 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 books.

  • - 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 published.

  • - 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.

  • - 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 else).

  • - 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 the writer.'

  • - 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 to

  • - 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 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 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.

  • - 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.

  • - Sam Jordison is the author of Crap Towns (which includes an interesting entry on Oxford) and The Joy of Sects. This is his website. 

  • - 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.

  • - 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.

  • Daily 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.

         Authors’ associations


  • Back 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 (  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 it works.  

    Up to 2GB are free, thereafter you have unlimited storage for just less than £3pcm, which is much cheaper than others I investigated.’ 
  • Calendar creator
    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. 
  • Convert anything
    As its name suggests, this site will convert anything - money, measurements, weights, volume etc.
  • Digital 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.)
  • Directory 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.
  • Gender guesser
    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, this 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 look.
  • International inquiries
    The telephone numbers for many overseas countries can be found through this site. 
  • Say 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.
  • Multimap
    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).
  • Postcode finder
    UK postcodes
  • Times 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.
  • Tiny 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 to create a brief URL that will not break in emails and never expires. If you follow the instructions on the site and install on your links toolbar (see below) you can create tiny URLs (24 characters as opposed to, say, 200) in a matter of seconds.
  • The 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.
  • Website icons
    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.