2019 Clapham Book Festival Authors

Simon Berthon*       BAFTA-winning documentary maker and journalist, Simon’s WWII histories Warlords and Allies at War have received critical and popular acclaim.  The latter was turned into a major BBC history series. A Clapham resident, his first thriller A Secret Worth Killing For was published in paperback in May 2018 and his second The Inquiry (written as Will Caine) in March 2019.

Elizabeth Buchan*                Clapham-based novelist and co-founder of the Clapham Book Festival, Elizabeth’s latest novel in a highly successful writing career is The Museum of Broken Promises published in September 2019. Her writing has garnered much praise:  “Skill and elegance… no one writes a cliffhanger scene like Buchan” said The Week and “A gripping, immensely satisfying read” commented Red magazine of The New Mrs Clifton. 

Ursula Buchan                    is an award-winning journalist, who now concentrates mainly on social and cultural history but had always wanted to write the definitive biography of her grandfather John Buchan, drawing on the family’s own recently discovered private archives. Best known for The Thirty-Nine Steps, ‘JB’ is an intriguing personality, a scholar, antiquarian, barrister, colonial administrator, journal editor, literary critic, publisher, war correspondent, director of wartime propaganda, member of parliament and imperial proconsul – given a state funeral when he died, a deeply admired and loved Governor-General of Canada.

Aida Edemariam                won the Ondaatje Prize 2019 for The Wife’s Tale, her “outstanding and highly unusual memoir” of her indomitable Ethiopian grandmother, Yetemegnu. Lovingly researched, the story moves from Yetemegnu’s birth to her marriage (at the age of eight) to a cleric and poet two decades her senior, through fascist occupation, the rise and fall of ruler Haile Selassie, revolution and civil war. Edemariam, who grew up in Addis Ababa, and is of Ethiopian and Canadian heritage, was first drawn to her grandmother’s stories “because of the language and verve with which she told them.” She reveals: “She was not able to write, or, until her 60s, to read, and everything was from memory – stories and jokes and dreams told and retold, in an oral culture that prized the ability to do this in the most skilful way possible.’

Frank Gardner OBE                With a career that combines BBC reporting from war zones, Territorial Army service and deep throat research into security issues, the journalist and author was never going to be short of material when he chose to start writing thrillers. He writes about a world he knows inside-out: as a scholar of the Middle East and the Arab world and BBC correspondent in the region – he was shot by terrorists in Saudi Arabia, which left him confined to a wheelchair – he initially put pen to paper in a riveting memoir, Blood & Sand. His first thriller, Crisis, was published in 2016 and was a Sunday Times bestseller, followed two years later by Ultimatum.  Both novels feature Luke Carlton as an agent trained by MI6, which gives him, as he puts it, “the best training in espionage the world has to offer”.

Michèle Roberts                       is the author of 12 highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House (which won the W H Smith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize). Her memoir Paper Houses was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in 2007 and she has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud-stories of sex and love. Half English and half French, Michèle splits her time between London and the Mayenne, France. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Professor Kate Williams        combines an incisive grasp of historical research with a fine talent as a storyteller. Fascinated by powerful women, her biographies have featured Josephine Bonaparte, Emma Hamilton and Queen Victoria, as well as the rivalry between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I portrayed in Rival Queens. She also writes historical fiction in her three-part historical saga about the glamorous but doomed de Witt family. Kate is the social historian on BBC2’s Restoration Home, the royal and historical expert for CNN and appears regularly on TV and radio. She has also covered all the major royal events.

Previous Clapham Book Festival Authors

kate-adie-by-ken-lennoxKate Adie                    National and international award-winning TV and radio reporter and former Chief News Correspondent for the BBC  Kate Adie has covered some of the most memorable and momentous events across the globe. She is the long running presenter of Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent and has been a judge for the Orange Prize for Fiction, now the Bailey’s, and the Whitbread, now the Costa Prize, and recently, the RSL Ondaatje Prize. Her latest publication Fighting on the Home Front: The Legacy of Women in WWI has garnered wide-spread praise.


J.J.Anderson*            Julie Anderson is  a Clapham-based novelist and co-founder of the Clapham Book Festival.  Her latest novel The Silver Rings is the long awaited sequel to Reconquista, the first in the Al Andalus series, is set in 13th century Spain during the wars of religion.  She curates literary and storytelling events across London and is working on her latest novel Plague, set in contemporary London.

Laura Barnett*              Best-selling author of The Versions of Us, Laura Barnett, who was born and grew up in Clapham, appeared at the Book Festival 2016 in Clapham Library.  Her latest novel Greatest Hits was published in June 2017.

Matthew Beaumont*        Professor at University College, London, Matthew is also the author of a number of books on literature, including Nightwalking; A Nocturnal History of London. Matthew took part in the discussion Place & the Writer at Clapham Book Festival 2016.

robin-blake-auth-photoRobin Blake    is a critically acclaimed novelist, art critic and biographer of Stubbs and Van Dyke, his eighteenth century crime novels are set in the pre-industrial north of England and feature Coroner Titus Cragg and local doctor, Luke Fidelis.  ‘This is rollicking stuff. Cragg and Fidelis are an engaging duo, and their first investigation is like crossing Robert Louis Stevenson with The Archers Financial Times

M.J.Carter*                   Crime writer Miranda Carter, the author of the Blake & Avery series of detective novels, appeared at the Clapham Book Festival 2016 at Clapham Library, in the discussion Crime in the Afternoon.  Miranda lives and writes in Clapham. Her latest novel is The Devil’s Feast featuring her Victorian detective duo.

Natasha Cooper               Crime writer and former Chair of the Crime Writers Association, Natasha Cooper’s sleuth Trish MacGuire has featured in a series of nine books, her civil servant detective Willow King in seven and her forensic psychologist Dr Karen Taylor in four.  She has just started writing again after a 7-year break, in between broadcasting, reviewing, writing features and short stories, and talking to reading groups and literary festivals in the UK and USA. She is a former Clapham resident.

Emma Darwin          Emma was born and brought up in London and now lives locally to Clapham.  Her first novel The Mathematics of Love ( Headline Review, 2006) was listed for the Commonwealth Writers Best First Book and the Romantic Novelists’ Book of the Year. Her second A Secret Alchemy (Headline Review 2009) was a Sunday Times Bestseller.  She has a doctorate in creative writing and teaches for the Open University, but also acts as an editor and writing mentor.  She blogs regularly at This Itch of Writing giving useful suggestions for aspiring authors and advice about the publishing industry.

Bobbie Derbyshire*                              Bobbie is a novelist and writer based in south London. She appeared at the 2016 Clapham Book Festival with her insightful lecture  Where Do Novels Come From at Clapham Library. Her latest novel is The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whitaker ( Sandstone, 2019).

Dame Margaret Drabble               Dame Margaret Drabble is the distinguished and prize-winning author of many novels, most recently, The Dark Flood Rises, exploring aging and death (“…but there’s nothing grim about it” said The Washington Post). She has also written biographies and screenplays and was awarded the 2011 Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to Literature. 

J.P.Delaney                  j-p-delaney-author-pic-preferredJ.P.Delaney’s best-selling novel  The Girl Before has drawn plaudits from the world of crime and thriller writing. ‘Dazzling… a pitch-perfect psychological thriller’ Lee Child.   Film rights for The Girl Before have been bought by Universal Films with Ron Howard to direct.

Sabine Durrant       Novelist and journalist, her best selling Lie with Me‘ a taut, character-driven psychological thriller,  was a Richard & Judy Book Club Choice.   Her latest novel is Take Me In ( 2018, Hodder & Stoughton ). Sabine appeared at both the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Clapham Book Festival.


Elizabeth Fremantle          Author of four novels set in the Tudor and Jacobean periods, her  The Girl in the Glass Tower‘is a 2016 Times Book of the Year  A top-notch literary thriller. Shots are fired, troths are plighted, sea voyages taken, escapes dared and mysteries solved  Daily Telegraph. ‘Five-star historical fiction Daily Mail.  Her latest novel is The Poison Bed ( 2018, Penguin )

Michael Glover*         is a Sheffield-born poet, art critic and editor of The Bow- Wow Shop,  an international poetry forum. Now based in Clapham, his collections of poetry include Impossible Horizons, Amidst all this Debris, For the Sheer Hell of Living and Only So Much. His memoir of growing up in Sheffield, Headlong into Pennilessness, was published in 2011.

Isabelle Grey                Novelist Isabelle Grey appeared at the 2016 edition of the Clapham Book Festival at Clapham Library in the discussion Crime in the Afternoon. Isabelle’s latest novel Wrong Way Home is the most recent featuring DI Grace Fisher to be published in May 2018. She lived in Clapham for many years.

Henry Hemming*             London-born Henry Hemming is the author of five works of non-fiction including M, or Agent M in the US, In Search of the English EccentricMisadventure in the Middle East (shortlisted for the Dolman Travel Book Award), and Churchill’s Iceman, published in the US as The Ingenious Mr Pyke, where it became a New York Times bestseller. He has also written for The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Times, The Economist, FT Magazine and The Washington Post.

Philip Gwyn Jones         Philip Gwyn Jones is a seasoned editor and publisher with 25 years’ high experience at the heart of literary publishing in the UK. His early career was at HarperCollins UK, first as editorial director of Fontana Press and then as publisher of Flamingo. More recently, he was Executive Publisher at Granta and Portobello Books (which he founded in 2004) and is currently Editor-at-Large at ScribeUK, where he buys both fiction and non-fiction.

Vaseem Khan           Vaseem Khan writes the bestselling Baby Ganesh Detective Agency  crime series featuring Indian detective Ashwin Chopra and his baby elephant sidekick. His books aim to take readers on a journey to the heart of modern India – the first book in the series, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was a Times bestseller and a Waterstones Paperback of the Year. Vaseem is also the author of one of this year’s Quick Reads books – a national initiative to improve literacy. He speaks extensively on this and on diversity in publishing.

Cecilia Knapp                   Cecilia Knapp is a writer, performer, theatre maker and poet. She has headlined at some of the UK’s top poetry nights and performed at festivals such as Bestival, Secret Garden Party, Wilderness as well as taking work to the Edinburgh Fringe and Cheltenham Literature Festival. Her one woman spoken word show, Finding Home, was published in 2017; her debut poetry collection is due to be published by Burning Books in 2018 and she is writing her first novel. She has also been an artist in residence at the Roundhouse and at Pimlico Library.

Patrice Lawrence               Brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian family in mid-Sussex, Patrice Lawrence now lives in East London.  Her debut young adult novel  Orangeboy won the Waterstones  Children’s Book Prize 2017, The Bookseller YA Book Prize 2017 and was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2016. Her second novel Indigo Donut was Book of the Week in The Timesthe Observer and The Sunday Times.

 Mark Lawson            A noted journalist, broadcaster and author, Mark Lawson specialises in culture and the arts and is best known for presenting the flagship BBC Radio 4 arts programme Front Row from 1998-2014. He has also written for The Universe, The Times, The Guardian and The Independent.  Twice voted TV Critic of the Year as well as winning many other journalism awards, he currently presents Mark Lawson Talks To… on BBC Four.

Andrew Lownie                     Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess won the St andrew-lownie-author-picErmin’s Intelligence Book of the Year award. ‘A magnificent biography…Burgess has all the right ingredients for an engrossing story and Lownie, who has spent 30 years researching this biography, makes the most of it… a narrative as gripping as a thriller.’ –Daily Express. Andrew Lownie is President of the Biographer’s Club and sits on the board of Biographer’s International Association.

Deborah Moggach OBE          A novelist and screenwriter, Deborah has written eighteen novels, including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever (being made into the film of the same name), These Foolish Things (renamed as the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Heartbreak Hotel.  She now mixes film and book writing with journalism. She has also been Chairman of the Society of Authors and worked for PEN’s Executive Committee, as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Roz Morris*                  Roz is a Clapham-based writer and novelist. She appeared in Readers’ Afternoon at the 2016 Clapham Book Festival. Roz talked about her novel Memories of My Future Life.

Clare Mulley             Clare is the award-winning author of three biographies: The Women Who Flew for Hitler, The Spy Who Loved and The Woman Who Saved the Children, a biography of the controversial Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb. As well as media appearances, Clare writes and reviews for The Spectator, The Telegraph and History Today, and was chair of judges for the Historical Writers Association 2017 non-fiction prize. She is a former Clapham resident.

Daljit Nagra       Daljit Nagra was born and brought up in West London and Sheffield  and now lives in London, teaching poetry at Brunel University. His award-winning poetry includes Oh my Rub! published under the pseudonym Khan Singh Kumar and Look We Have Coming to Dover! (which brought him Forward Prizes in 2004 and 2007 for best Single Poem and Best Collection), and Tipoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! was shortlisted for the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize. Daljit was BBC Radio 4’s first Poet in Residence.


Annemarie Neary*         is an award-winning Irish-born novelist. Her crime writing debut novel Sirens has attracted widespread praise.  ‘A nail-bitingly tense tale, with writing as sharp and pointed as arrows, where nobody is who they say they are … ‘ Sunday Independent.  Her new novel ‘The Orphans‘ is a taut, psychological thriller set on Clapham Common.

Leila Segal                       Leila is a south London based writer who appeared in the Readers’ Afternoon session at the 2016 Clapham Book Festival talking about her first collection of short stories entitled Breathe; Stories from Cuba.


Rick Stroud                 Historian and author, his critically acclaimed books include Kidnap in Crete; The True Story of the Abduction of a Nazi General and The Phantom Army of Alamein; The Men who Hood-winked Rommel. ‘A wonderful book: charming, fascinating, crammed full of extraordinary nuggets of information … The result is a gem of a book and a classic of its kind.’ Literary Review. His latest book Lonely Courage tells the story of the SOE heroines in occupied France.

John Taylor*          John  is a Clapham-based novelist and co-founder of the Clapham Book festival. He appeared in Readers Afternoon at the Festival 2016. His novel Departing Vienna is set in contemporary London and war-time Europe and he has also written military history.


Jane Thynne                Novelist, journalist and frequent broadcaster on BBC Radio 4, Jane Thynne’s Clara Vine series – including the latest Solitaire – about a  British spy in Nazi Germany is highly praised.  ‘Absorbing fiction, the sort you might happily read on a beach…it’s pacey well put-together reading….Those who like a good serving of history with their novels will be deeply satisfied. Thynne has a journalist’s magpie eye for interesting asides and the fruits of her research pack each page.’ The Times.

*Denotes Clapham writers or writers based in Clapham.

Ursula Buchan is photographed by Charlie Hodgkinson, 2016