Eastbourne author takes us through 1,200 years of English royal history
The latest book by Eastbourne author Paul James took him over 14 years to write and has just been published. A Royal History of England began life in 2006 as a series of articles for This England magazine and was never intended to be a book.
“When I took over as editor of This England in September 2018, Paul James’s A Royal History of England series was a jewel in the magazine’s crown,” said current editor Angela Linforth.
“It was a feature that explored and celebrated our nation’s history and monarchs in a really accessible and anecdotal way – which to my mind brings the story of England vividly to life.
“That’s the reason why, I think, the series has been so popular with our thousands of readers over the 14 years it has been running and why readers have been asking if we would put all 56 parts into one glorious book.”
Paul James is the author of 94 previous books, ranging from a detailed study of the Royal Household to a book of children’s games fronted by the late Duke of Edinburgh.
Other books include biographies of the Princess Royal, Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra, Diana Princess of Wales, and the first ever biography of Prince Edward – which have sold in more than 100 countries.
Non-royal books since 1979 encompass everything from humour to quizzes, health to history, children’s fiction and non-fiction; he has ghost written books for a number of celebrities and has acted as researcher/advisor for several publishers and TV companies.
As a broadcaster, Paul has taken part in more than 1,000 radio and television programmes; as an entertainer he has regularly performed his comedy act the Dowager Lady Crabtree all over the country since 1978 and, as a journalist, has written for many newspapers and magazines.
Since 1992 he has had feature articles on royalty in most issues of This England magazine.
Paul said: “I have always had an interest in royalty which goes right back to very early childhood.
“I was born near Sandringham and used to be taken to see the Queen and members of the Royal Family whenever they attended church.
“Back in the 1950s there was no obvious security and you were literally within touching distance.
“As a very young child, before I could even read, one of my grandmothers used to give me Coronation books to look at and I just loved all the photos of crowns, velvet robes, golden coaches and all the splendour.
“Once I could read, I had all 50 editions of the Ladybird series Adventures from History for children.
“That ignited a passion for royal history.”
Despite his large number of publications, few of Paul’s previous books have been history-based.
“I once did a book on Queen Victoria, but that’s it.
“So, A Royal History of England was a joy to work on. I wanted to go right back to our earliest monarch, King Egbert, so have written about 62 monarchs and 1,200 years of history.
“If it had been a book from the outset, I don’t think I would even have contemplated it.
“The amount of research would just have been far too daunting. But being able to write it as a magazine series, over a period of years, just having to research and write about one monarch every three months for a quarterly magazine, made it manageable.
“I never envisaged it being a book but.now that it has been published, I am delighted to see it all together in one volume.”
Having now had 95 books published, will there be more?
“It would be nice to reach 100, but at the moment I can’t envisage writing another, although you never know!
“If A Royal History of England is my last book, then it is a good one to end my publishing career with and I’d be happy with that.”
• A Royal History of England is published in hardback by D C Thomson rrp £25 . The book can be purchased for the special price of £20 from www.thisengland.co.uk