1. FC Union Berlin: 10 Things You Should Know​

urs fischer tifo

1. FC Union Berlin: 10 Things You Should Know

1. FC Union Berlin are a football club that play in the German Bundesliga – the top division of German football. The team from south-east Berlin have received more attention in recent years due to their success on the pitch and their creative and passionate fanbase off it.

How much do you know about Union Berlin?

We’ve listed 10 things you should know…

The Origins of Union Berlin

The exact date of Union Berlin’s formation is hard to say. In its current form, the club has only been around since 1966. But its roots go far deeper, stretching from the German Empire to the building of the Berlin Wall, via a revolution and two world wars.

Its earliest ancestor was SC Olympia Oberschöneweide (1906), before they moved to their current home in Köpenick as SC Union Oberschöneweide in 1920.

Did Union-know?
When SC Union played Hamburger SV in the final of the German Championship in June 1923 the cost of a kilo of rye bread was in the hundreds of billions of marks.

After Germany was divided in the Cold War, the club split in two, with SC Union 06 in the West and the old club remaining at the Alte Försterei. In 1951, the latter merged with a neighbouring club to form BSG Motor, dropping ‘Union’ from their name altogether and adopting the red-and-white which they still wear today.

When 1966 saw a drastic reform of East German football, the East Berlin club finally became the club we know today: 1. FC Union Berlin.

Köpenick, in the south-east of Berlin, is the home of Union Berlin. Only slightly to the north-west of Köpenick on the map, you can see Union’s ancestral home of Oberschöneweide.

Union Berlin and rivalries

The rivalry between Union Berlin and Hertha Berlin is notorious, especially following Union’s recent promotion to the Bundesliga. Last season, the clubs faced each other three times, with Union winning all three.

However, Union’s traditional and fiercest rivals are Berliner FC (BFC) Dynamo. Though the two sides have not played a league game against each other since 2006, the once fierce rivalry is still a defining feature of Union’s identity. In the Communist era, BFC were affiliated with Erich Mielke’s Stasi secret police. And the club’s advantages on the pitch were undeniable: they won ten titles in a row from 1979 to 1988 while Union suffered multiple relegations. This inequality helped shape Union’s character as footballing outlaws in a world where the wrong people always won.

Things, however, have changed since the millennium. While Union began their march towards the Bundesliga, BFC have languished between the fourth and fifth tiers of German football.

union berlin promotion bundesliga
Veteran defender Michael Parensen celebrates with fans on the pitch after the promotion play-off triumph against Stuttgart. © 1. FC Union Berlin

How to pronounce 'Union'

It is just ‘Union’, not ‘the Union’ or ‘a Union’.

To write or read Union like the English word ‘union’ is wrong, because that is not how Unioners themselves pronounce it.

The name is pronounced oon-yawn, rather than yoo-nyun. Grammatically, therefore, when you refer to a supporter it is ‘an Union fan’ rather than ‘a Union fan’.

Union Berlin fans built their own stadium

Union Berlin play their home games at Stadion an der Alten Försterei in Köpenick, which is in the south-east of Berlin.

terraces of the alte försterei

Union have played there for 102 years, after relocating from Oberschöneweide in 1920. The stadium is the oldest, most enduring element of the club’s identity: it’s older than the colours, the badge and the oldest supporters.

By the 1990s, the Alte Försterei was effectively unfit for purpose and plans were drawn for a rebuild. However, Union had very little money and only a handful of employees who were able to set up and run a fully functioning construction site.

So, during the 2008/09 season, 2,333 men and women – most of them volunteers – worked more than 140,000 hours to transform the Alte Försterei from a crumbling wreck into one of modern football’s most distinctive stadiums.

building the alte försterei
A fan volunteer gets to work dismantling the old fences between the away block and the home block during the renovation in 2008. © Matthias Koch

Did Union-know?
The fans’ efforts are now immortalised in a beer garden on the southern side of the stadium. In the shadow of the terraces stands a tall, stout column made of iron girders, which is decorated with metal plaques bearing the name of every single person who signed up to help.

Union president Dirk Zingler unveils the monument to the volunteer stadium builders after the project was completed in 2009. © 1. FC Union Berlin

Union Berlin's love of the forest

Trees are part of the club’s soul.

The Alte Försterei is on the urban edges of the forests and lakes which surround Berlin. To the north-west of the stadium is the Wuhlheide, a sprawling woodland park which stretches across the south-east of the city. The club’s main offices are in the Old Forester’s House which gives the stadium its name.

Old Forester's House
The Old Forester's House which gives the stadium its name. Since 2007, it has hosted Union's head office. © 1. FC Union Berlin

Did Union-know?
When spectators were banished from stadiums during the pandemic, many Union fans simply climbed the trees to watch and cheer on their team from outside.

Union fans sing this song in tribute to their sylvan home:

“In uns’rem Stadion
In der Hauptstadt
In der wunderschönen, immergrünen Alten Försterei”

Translated to English:

“In our stadium
In the capital
In the beautiful, evergreen Alte Försterei”

Do you want to find out more Union Berlin songs. Check out Union in Englisch’s page of Union songs.

union forest
The walk from Köpenick to the Alte Försterei (Union Berlin v VfL Bochum, 14 May 2022)
The Alte Försterei enveloped in the trees (Union Berlin v VfL Bochum, 14 May 2022)

Union Berlin fans bled for their club

Would you bleed for you club? Because Union fans did. Literally.

In 2004, Union were so short of cash that they were on the brink of losing their league licence and being banished back into the wilderness of non-league football.

There followed a mammoth fundraising effort. At the centre of it was the Bleed for Union initiative, which allowed fans to donate blood in Union’s name. The ten euros compensation fee which was ordinarily paid to the blood donor themselves was wired directly to the football club.

Union Berlin's unique corner flags

Where most clubs just have their emblem or plain block colours on their corner flags, Union have a face. Designed by artist and Union supporter Andora, Der kleine Biss (‘The Little Bite’) flies from all four corners of the Alte Försterei.

According to Andora, it represents the bite Unioners have always had, ever since the beginning.

You can read more about Andora here in this Der Tagesspiegel article written by Scheisse! We’re Going Up! author Kit Holden.

union berlin corner flag
'The Little Bite' artwork, designed by artist and Unioner Andora, flies from all four corner flags at the Alte Försterei. © Andora

The Curse of Union Berlin in Europe

Did Union-know?
Union have qualified for Europe four times in their history. Two of them have come in the last two seasons.

Oddly, Union’s adventures in Europe have always been somewhat cursed.

When Union qualified for the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1968, their dreams of travelling the continent were immediately dashed by an escalation of the Cold War. In the fallout from the Soviets’ brutal suppression of the Prague Spring, several Eastern Bloc countries, including East Germany, decided to boycott UEFA competition in the 1968/69 season.

Thirty-three years later, it was an international terrorist incident. In 2001, Union’s UEFA Cup first-round tie against Finnish side Haka Valkeakoski was originally scheduled for 13 September but was postponed after the 9/11 attacks in New York.

Two decades on, Union qualified for the 21/22 UEFA Conference League competition, challenging on the European stage for the first time in 20 years. Brilliant! Right?… Right?!?

Cue the next international catastrophe. In the midst of the Covid pandemic, public health restrictions meant Union had to play their European home games in front of half-full stadiums. And to make matters worse, they couldn’t even play on the hallowed turf of the Alte Försterei. The stadium didn’t comply with UEFA regulations, meaning Union had to instead play at Hertha’s Olympiastadion.

With UEFA’s ban on standing terraces lifted this season, Union could yet return to their home for the 2022/23 Europa League campaign, and are hoping that this will be their first crisis-free European season!

How’s your luck, Union?

The World Cup Living Room

In 2014, the Alte Försterei was transformed into a ‘World Cup Living Room’, where fans could watch Germany games on the big screen. The stands were decorated with retro East German-style wallpaper, and the pitch was adorned with around 800 sofas which the spectators had brought from their own homes.

Das ist cosy!

union berlin world cup living room
Fans watch Germany beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup Final from the comfort of their sofas at Union's "World Cup Living Room". © 1. FC Union Berlin

The Union Berlin Christmas Carol Service

On the evening of 23 December 2003, a large group of Union fans snuck into the stands at the Alte Försterei and sang Christmas carols to banish away the blues felt by poor results in the league. The Union Christmas Carol Service – known as Weihnachtssingen – was born. Little did they know at the time that it would become a roaring success in years to come.

By the late 2010s, the so-called Weihnachtssingen had become a world-famous tradition, attracting hundreds of reporters and tourists from around the globe to the Alte Försterei every 23 December. With nearly 30,000 attendees every year, it is now one of the biggest Christmas events in the city.

Want to find out more about Union Berlin?

While this article has discussed some details about Union’s history, in reality it has barely scratched the surface.

In Scheisse! We’re Going Up!: The Unexpected Rise of Berlin’s Rebel Football Club, Kit Holden delves deeper into the history of Union Berlin by listening to the very heartbeat of the club – its people – who now face a new and terrifying prospect: success.

But Scheisse! is about more than just football. It’s about the city Union call home. As the club fight to maintain their rebel spirit among the modern football elite, their trajectory mirrors that of contemporary Berlin itself: from divided Cold War battleground to European capital of cool.

You can order the book below!

scheisse we're going up

Praise for Scheisse! We're Going Up!

'A wonderful journey into the heart of a very unique club'
Raphael Honigstein
author of Das Reboot and Klopp: Bring the Noise
'An engrossing portrait of a football club that carries with it the story of Berlin with all its appealing contradictions: a city with a radical counterculture guarded with conservative zeal, a global metropolis with a village mentality, a cultural niche that becomes cooler the harder it tries not to be'
Philip Oltermann
journalist and author of Keeping Up With the Germans and The Stasi Poetry Circle
'The history and culture of a special football club deserve a special kind of chronicling – and Holden has executed it to perfection'
Patrick Barclay
award winning sportswriter and author of Football – Bloody Hell!
'Holden delivers a beautifully crafted set of stories that reveal a personal history of one of Germany’s most special clubs and cities'
Jonathan Harding
author of Mensch and Soul
'A fascinating tale that is expertly told. By focusing on the figures behind the scenes, Kit Holden captures the social and cultural history of Union and in doing so does this special club justice'
Adam Bate
Sky Sports
'For the first time, "Scheisse" is a good thing! A captivating read on one of the most unique clubs in world football'
Archie Rhind-Tutt
Bundesliga touchline reporter for ESPN
'Kit Holden superbly portrays the fascinating and inspiring football club that is “Iron Union”. He captures the myth, the history and the spirit that make Union so very special and beloved'
Andreas Michaelis
State Secretary, former Ambassador to the UK and long-time Unioner
'Union Berlin is not just one of the great stories of German football but in all of sports. The commitment between supporters and club epitomizes the romanticism and universality that makes the beautiful game the world's most popular game, and Kit perfectly captures the ups and downs of the club's incredible journey back to Germany's top flight. A must-read for any football romantic, regardless of where you're from and what team you support'
Cristian Nyari
co-founder of Bundesliga Fanatic

Did Union-know?
The cover for Scheisse! We’re Going Up! was inspired by a tifo of coach Urs Fischer raised by Union ultras in the famous Waldseite (forest stand) behind the goal at the north end of the stadium. It appeared in Union’s second ever Bundesliga home game in 2019. A few hours later, they were celebrating a sensational 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. © 1. FC Union Berlin

urs fischer tifo

Reader reviews


‘This was as much a social and political history of Berlin as a football book. Like many other fans I have been taken by surprise and fascinated by the recent rise of Union Berlin and this well written and researched book by Kit Holden digs well beneath the surface and puts their achievements fully into context. Peppered with fan anecdotes this is a rollicking and enjoyable read. Highly recommended’ – Greville Waterman, NetGalley


‘What a brilliant book! This is a detailed, thoughtful and intelligent chronicle of the rise and fall… and rise and fall… and rise and rise of a football club which has a real identity as an integral part of the tough East Berlin community in which it is situated. The format of the book, telling the story of Union Berlin’s history and evolution through the perspectives of those people most closely involved brings realism and a real sense of what the club means to those people… I highly recommend this book to football fans and any non-football fans interested in a true “David and Goliath” tale told against the backdrop of a fascinating period of post-war European history ‘ – Tony McMullin, NetGalley


‘Holden tells the history of the club and the city through interviews with a variety of fans and officials. It’s an inspired choice and the narrative weaves excellently between personal recollections and the over-arching story of both the city and the club’s past, present and future. The book is packed with stories and recollections of fans and their passion oozes out of every page. It wonderfully captures the essence of the club and what makes it special… Scheisse! is an absolutely brilliant book. It captures the very essence of why sport matters’ – Brendan Crowley, All Sports Book Reviews


‘An outstandingly fun read, this will make any reader a fan of Union… I can definitely see me egging them on in the majority of their games next season, and more relevantly, egging this book about them on to the heights it deserves to achieve’ – John Lloyd, NetGalley


‘Union Berlin are one of the most fascinating football clubs in Europe. Their story and their remarkable success on the pitch of the last few years is told really well by Kit Holden. In each chapter a supporter is interviewed about a particular milestone that has shaped this unique club. It is also a history of the changing city of Berlin from the cold war to today. I loved it.’ – Jim Hanks, NetGalley

Advice to Publishing Hopefuls from a Duckworth Publishing Assistant

Advice to Publishing Hopefuls Duckworth Books

Advice to Publishing Hopefuls from a Duckworth Publishing Assistant


Hello to the publishing world and people who aspire to enter. I’m Hodan and I’m writing about my experience of working in an indie publishing house!

I was inspired to write this blog entry because there are many stories of people giving up on their dreams because breaking into the industry is challenging and competitive. We are all book lovers fighting for the right to be here.

Knowing where to look for a role and getting advice on starting your search can be daunting! It’s understandable because my first questions and Googles out of university were ‘is publishing a hard industry to break into?’ and ‘what skills do I need to get into publishing?’ This led to an endless cycle of searches that did not give me clear answers.

Luckily, I found a role as a Sales and Publicity Assistant at Duckworth by applying on my council job board. My role is part of the government work scheme, Kickstarter, that gives young people ages 18-25 six months of work experience.

My time at Duckworth taught me much about what is needed for a person to work in publishing beyond a love of books. (Although loving books makes work more fun!)

I hope the following advice will help you to make the most of your experience and give publishing hopefuls an insight into what you should look for.

Explore working for a small publishing house

Go Small! Its More Fun Than The Big Guys! We PromiseDon’t only set your sites on the Big Four publishing houses and their imprints. See if your local area has a publishing house; you will be surprised with whom you find.

When I started looking for a role in publishing, I knew about the Big Four, the powerhouses of the industry. When it came to looking for a position within publishing, I was only looking on their job boards. I didn’t realise I was limiting myself as there are so many other places to work, including indie publishing houses or magazines and a thousand other creative forms of publishing.

Duckworth Books wasn’t on my radar, but it should have been – it’s a legacy publishing house. With its 125-year anniversary next year, it has stood firm as an independent for so long!

Working in a small team is fantastic. I was able to contribute many ideas that influenced decisions, which I doubt would have been the case if I was working in a big publishing house. It was so helpful in building my professional confidence.

It can be hard to deal with the enormous amount of media and blogger mail-outs that I had to send (I am best friends with the postman at this point), but it was always within a relaxed, supportive atmosphere which has been amazing whilst learning the ins and outs.

In a small publishing house, I felt that my growth and development were considered and seen as significant. My manager, Matt (Head of Sales, Publicity and Marketing), has been great, especially in answering my many questions. I asked so many questions… Matt should be knighted!


Prepare goals of what you want to learn


Goals with a Bullseye that has an arrow in the centre


When starting the role, I wrote out three goals I wanted to achieve. They were small, but they helped me to focus on what I wanted to do each week. I also did this because I wanted a documented trail of my achievements.


  • Share an idea or speak my opinion in a meeting

I struggle to voice my opinion in professional situations. Or I accidentally blurt out an idea without explaining it because I panic and word vomit. Having this goal has allowed me to think and plan my thoughts. As the weeks went on, thoughtfully sharing my ideas became second nature.

  • Learn something new each week

It could be a word, a process, an idea, or a discussion that I found interesting. I set this goal because I usually forget the nugget of information I hear while working and then get frustrated because I didn’t investigate that interest. An example is the fun I had looking into how books are turned into braille. I asked the owner, Pete, and he was terrific, giving me a detailed explanation. Afterwards, I watched videos and read more about the subject.

  • Ask for help when I need it and tell others if I’m lost/confused

As a person with learning difficulties (ADHD and dyslexia), I am very good at making mistakes and then taking them personally. But in this role, I informed my team about my limitations because I have learned that people can’t help or see you struggle if you don’t tell them. This means I can go to work and be honest with the team when I get lost or overwhelmed by a task, allowing them to help me and continue developing.


Write down what you are learning as you go!

Writing it All Down


Documenting your journey is beneficial to growing your confidence and learning what skills you have developed and need to work on.

During a previous internship, I was lucky to have a manager who told me to keep a working spreadsheet of what I do each week because it would be helpful to me in the future. I laughed and said ‘that’s too much work’ but I did it anyway because he implemented it into our weekly one-to-ones, which meant I had to do it…

This was the best advice I ever got as a young person starting my career. (Thank you, Manager!)  When you are working, it can be tough to see your growth and development, and you can sometimes forget cool things that you did, making you feel like you’re not learning.

But with a work journal, it’s right there in front of you.

Here’s an example:


An Example of My Work Growth Tracker


I use a spreadsheet on Notion, project management and notetaking software, to track my learning and the skills I have developed. I write weekly or daily depending on what I’ve accomplished.

By doing this, I have seen my growth and found places where I need to improve. It also helps when you want to talk to your manager about where they can help you and demonstrate how you have been a critical team member. Also, it’s a place to pull information from when you are looking for your next adventure because it can be challenging to remember what you have done.

To publishing hopefuls who have found this blog post, I hope my advice is helpful and makes your search a little easier.

Thanks for reading,


Hodan Ibrahim


Black Butterflies: 30 years after the Siege of Sarajevo

Black Butterflies: 30 years after the Siege of Sarajevo

Priscilla Morris

Sarajevo, spring 1992. Each night, nationalist gangs erect barricades, splitting the diverse city into ethnic enclaves; each morning, the residents – whether Muslim, Croat or Serb – push the makeshift barriers aside.

Zora, an artist and teacher, is focused on her family, her students, her studio in the old town. But when violence finally spills over, she sees that she must send her husband and elderly mother to safety with her daughter in England. Reluctant to believe that hostilities will last more than a handful of weeks, she stays behind. As the city falls under siege and everything they loved is laid to waste, black ashes floating over the rooftops, Zora and her friends are forced to rebuild themselves, over and over. 

Inspired by real-life accounts of the longest siege in modern warfare, only thirty years ago, Black Butterflies is a breathtaking portrait of disintegration, resilience and hope. 

In the video below, Morris tells us more about her personal connection to the siege and who inspired the characters in Black Butterflies. 

Black Butterflies
Priscilla Morris
Publication date: 5 May 2022
ISBN: 9780715654590

The Shadowy Third: Coda

Letter extract

The Shadowy Third: Coda

Julia Parry

A reader on the fringes of Ashdown Forest closes his hardback of The Shadowy Third. He remembers a bundle of correspondence he bought years ago, letters which had been sent to Elizabeth Bowen. Of particular interest to him were Virginia Woolf ’s letters; other correspondents were simply names at the foot of a page. Intrigued by Bowen’s affair with Humphry House, he wonders whether any of Humphry’s letters rest in the cardboard coffin in his study. He finds the box and begins to look through the letters. Musty with memories, the pages and people pass drily through his hands. Then, there it is. The name ‘Humphry’. It had meant nothing to him before. He reads carefully, conscious that the man before him now has some shape and colour. An hour later, he sits down at his computer and begins an email: ‘Dear Julia Parry . . .’

The six newly uncovered letters fill a key gap in the narrative. They are some of Humphry’s letters to Elizabeth written from India between July and September 1936. They are not the replies to her blistering rebukes of his early months in Calcutta. The first one refers to Elizabeth’s impressionistic missive of 29 June about the Norfolk Broads, which is full of soporific reflections, the girl from a Renoir painting and her capable Aunt Bertha (see Chapter 12). With this new find, the epistolary baton is passed to Humphry just as Elizabeth’s letters come to a temporary halt. Humphry indulges in an occasional whisper of their former intimacy – ‘I want to say little Bengali phrases to you. I can’t make love in Bengali’ – but the general tone is friendly and measured.

elizabeth bowen
Elizabeth Bowen

In the earliest letter there is an echo of his sentiments when he first arrived in Ireland; he feels occasionally ambushed by something ‘hugely and madly foreign’, despite his growing affection for Calcutta. His new friendships, which were among the most important elements of his time in the city, went some way to alleviating his feelings of strangeness. He details a daytrip with Sudhin Datta and John Auden to Chandernagore, one of the ‘islands of French India’, with its florid Catholic Church and riverside promenade. He writes of the journey, the ‘roaring racing air’ buffeting them all as their car dashes through a countryside of lush, ‘violent greens’.

Another letter begins with just the type of sketch Elizabeth would love: ‘My dear, two monkeys led on chains, one with a baby hanging upside down from its belly, have just gone by to a drum: probably advertising a cinema.’ He tells her of the joys of ceiling fans, the ‘curve of excitement’ when a huge storm hits, of the palm tree and lemon tree he sees from his window. He explains how one must never wear a white topi (the hat of colonial rule) as ‘they are either army or vulgar’, and talks with real affection for his students, commenting that he has never in his life enjoyed his teaching as much. Inevitably, there is more about the crooked operations of the state, the spying, the interception of letters. Elizabeth is treated to more details of police brutality than appear in letters to Madeline.

From what Humphry writes in one letter, it is clear Elizabeth had asked him about whether he had come across any Bengali short stories. At the time, she was editing a book of short stories for Faber (published in 1937). Her request might have been with a view to including a Bengali story in her selection; a bold and unusual choice for the time, but evidence of Elizabeth’s voracious interest in the genre. Humphry explains that the problem lies in the quality of translation before telling her he is going to attempt a translation of one himself – not bad for someone who had only been learning the language for a few months. Humphry rhapsodises about the Bengali language, and peppers the page with colloquialisms from Bengali English. Two words he writes out in Bengali to show her the shape and strokes of the script. One can understand why he might choose the word ‘Darling’; the word for ‘Printing Works’ less so.

humphry house
Humphry House

From what Humphry writes in one letter, it is clear Elizabeth had asked him about whether he had come across any Bengali short stories. At the time, she was editing a book of short stories for Faber (published in 1937). Her request might have been with a view to including a Bengali story in her selection; a bold and unusual choice for the time, but evidence of Elizabeth’s voracious interest in the genre. Humphry explains that the problem lies in the quality of translation before telling her he is going to attempt a translation of one himself – not bad for someone who had only been learning the language for a few months. Humphry rhapsodises about the Bengali language, and peppers the page with colloquialisms from Bengali English. Two words he writes out in Bengali to show her the shape and strokes of the script. One can understand why he might choose the word ‘Darling’; the word for ‘Printing Works’ less so.

These letters also cover Humphry’s spell in hospital with dysentery (discussed at the beginning of Chapter 12). Nothing, not even severe illness, would stand in the way of his desire to communicate. Nor, it seems, was any topic off-limits: ‘While this was in writing I had an enema, the effects of which laid me out into a flat expansive and exhausted sleep. I think a good enema now and then is very satisfying and delightful.’ The last letter sees Humphry restored to health and his old ways: ‘I am recovering from a thick night spent true to type; and before breakfast and since drank brandy which is conveniently among my medicines.’

There is talk, inevitably, of mutual friends such as William Plomer and Maurice Bowra, and Humphry responds to news of Elizabeth’s summer visitors to Bowen’s Court. More intriguingly, Elizabeth had clearly told Humphry of her attraction to Goronwy Rees and asked him his opinion of Rees. Humphry writes: ‘His waywardness irritates me […] but even at the surface level on which I’ve known him I’ve felt his attractiveness in gusts.’ Humphry goes on to explain that he can’t give a definitive judgement of Rees’s character because ‘oddly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him drunk’.

Though Humphry may have thought he was being magnanimous, one senses subtle hints of jealousy in his words. Of Elizabeth’s interest in Rees, Humphry concludes: ‘I’m glad this sudden turn has happened with him and you because I do think he can be remarkably good company on the right day: whether he has “integrity” or not I don’t know.’ Elizabeth was to find to her cost, just a couple of months later, that integrity was not Rees’s strongest suit: overnight, the wind changed direction and Rees began his affair with Rosamond Lehmann under Elizabeth’s roof at Bowen’s Court.

bowen's court 1930s
Bowen's Court in the 1930s

Lehmann herself makes an appearance in the correspondence thanks to a photograph Elizabeth had sent Humphry of a house party at Lehmann’s house (one that took place well before the debacle with Rees): ‘How does Rosamond – who I think is beautiful – come to have such a screwed up crusty-looking little daughter? or was it the camera?’ Humphry tells Elizabeth how much he enjoyed Elizabeth’s review of Lehmann’s novel The Weather in the Streets, before giving his own opinion of it. He deplores Lehmann’s use of ellipsis, complaining that it causes him ‘physical pain’, though he goes on to praise her subtle narrative style: ‘I found that queer feeling one has with some plays; what critics call the “necessity” of what happens happening. […] The situation fills out over night, but you don’t have to exclaim next morning.’

Another letter gives an engaging critique of W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood’s play The Ascent of F6, which he has read in proof copy courtesy of John Auden, to whom it is dedicated. He was ‘deeply and impersonally impressed’ rather than moved by the play because he felt there was ‘little emotion in it one could vicariously feel’. The protagonist, a mountaineer, he describes as ‘a man of absolute and self-contained ambition entirely insulated against the world except as giving him problems to solve: he solves the main problem of the mountain, & it kills him’. That this character struck a chord with Humphry is, perhaps, unsurprising: he could almost be describing himself. Events yet to come in his own life are painfully foreshadowed.

The detailed discussion of literary texts found in these letters is one of the key differences between what Humphry wrote to Madeline and to Elizabeth in the summer of 1936. Though one can understand that the Lehmann correspondence was of particular relevance to Elizabeth, the same cannot be said for The Ascent of F6. This is possibly further proof of his underappreciation of Madeline’s intelligence. That she had taken an English degree and had an active interest in literature seems to have escaped Humphry on many occasions. Humphry was probably also aware that what remained of the shared feeling with Elizabeth lay in the world of literature and ideas.

madeline house
Madeline House

Running like a vein under the skin of every letter is something of psychic importance to both Elizabeth and Humphry: her home, Bowen’s Court. Humphry admits to being besieged by memories of Ireland which arrive ‘in my mind without warning or reason, like images out of childhood’. Seeing her in his mind’s eye in the sun-sprinkled rooms of Bowen’s Court, he conjures a shared space: ‘looking out of my window here now the sky might be yours, blue and clear with thin white clouds that might collect and make rain.’

And it is Bowen’s Court itself, the house he had fallen in love with on his first visit to Ireland, that fittingly fills the final paragraph of Humphry’s last letter of this newly unearthed cache. Humphry undertakes a thought-journey, sending one of his roving selves off to Ireland, letter in hand. He goes as far as picturing himself as the letter. In his imagination, he walks up the drive towards her home. The trees of the long avenue billow loosely in the breeze; rooks scratch the air overhead. He closes: ‘So I must project one film of myself, a separate layer dismissed, & let him go there by this: he is a responsible deputy to the place: but send love separately, from me complete. Humphry.’

When I received news of these fresh letters I was thrilled, even more so when they arrived as digital photographs. Humphry’s beautiful tight handwriting, with its open ‘b’ and willowy ‘f ’, lay in front of me again. There were his customary long sentences; the beauty of his descriptions; his liking for the absurd; his penchant for semi-colons. His intellect and insecurity, his pedantry and prejudices. To read this treasury of letters was wonderful and moving. I am more familiar with the contours of my grandfather’s writing than of his face.

The contents of the letters were similarly exciting. Though Humphry covers some of the same ground in the letters to Madeline, these new letters add depth to his life in Calcutta. They also confirm that, after the bristling barbs of their break-up, Humphry and Elizabeth settled into a solid epistolary friendship in the summer of 1936.

elizabeth bowen letters
The Letters

But even as this new find fills in lacunae in the story, it also serves to question the very narrative I have constructed. Humphry’s letters to Elizabeth of the period are not all lost as I have stated. This fact does not worry me; indeed, I relish it. I have tried to honour the idea of there being different versions of a story, even in my own telling of it. I like the way that my version is subtly altered by this new discovery, as much as it is by every different reader. As I see it, through these whisky-coloured pages Humphry has added a latenight shot of vibrancy both to his tale and mine.

Looking back on all the years of this book – its inspiration, its gestation, its crafting, its polishing – I can see that one of the most meaningful journeys I have taken is in my relationship with my grandfather. Initially, I had allowed myself to adopt a single story about him, one defined by his behaviour towards women. ‘You’re very hard on Humphry,’ commented a dear friend of the early drafts. But little by little the mist of judgement lifted, and I was able first to appreciate him, then to feel for him, and finally to love him. The road I travelled with my remarkable grandmother was far less rocky; my heart chimed with hers, I held her hand from the beginning.

That these letters, like the box I inherited, arrived at ‘the hour arranged’ I do not doubt. As Elizabeth says, only when the sensibilities of the recipient are fully in tune with those of the writer can a letter be fully felt. These missives weren’t meant for me, but I receive them, welcome them, inhabit them as though they were. No longer hearts left to beat unheard.

The Shadowy Third: Love, Letters and Elizabeth Bowen
Julia Parry
Publication date: 17 February 2022
ISBN: 9780715654491

On the question of faith: The role of the Divine in The Maid of Gascony series

On the question of faith: The role of the Divine in The Maid of Gascony series


‘In hope there is love, in love there is grace, and in grace there is wisdom that surpasses all understanding..’

Ahead of the publication of the second book in the Maid of Gascony series, author Catherine Clover delves into the position of faith and divinity in charting the trials and tribulations of Lady Isabelle on her pilgrimage from Oxford to Rome.

When I first began work on The Templar’s Garden, I was in the final stages of my time living in Oxford as a graduate student. While preparing for my viva voce, the oral defense of my doctoral thesis, I came across an intriguing entry about Gascony in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (TRHS). Though I cannot remember all the particulars now, at the time it was striking enough to make me think it could form the basis of a fictional medieval family saga: The daughter of a noble Gascon family was kept prisoner in a tower by a wicked count following her unconsummated marriage; her parents, devastated upon hearing such news, sought papal intervention in order to save their daughter and free from her marriage contract; with her marriage annulled by the Pope and in receipt of her title and estates, the daughter was able to legally marry again and maintain her financial standing. Sound familiar?

I am often asked by readers, ‘just how much of The Maid of Gascony series is true’? Is it historically accurate? Did these people and their way of life really exist in the 1450s? My answer can only be summed up with the response: it’s a bit of both, actually.

First to address some of the truths. Yes, the Duchy of Gascony did exist until the Battle of Castillon. Yes, the English (and some Welsh) were in Gascony through the end of the English administration of the Duchy. Yes, Bazas is a real place, and yes, I did live there as a graduate student (and Père Francis was the priest whom I knew at the cathedral). Of the locations and characters who help bring colour and life to the words on the page, they are either A) real historical figures or B) characterizations based on individuals I have known in my lifetime (both good and bad).

Apart from the family residence in Gascony called Rosete (which is actually a combination of Harlech in Wales and a 14th-century papal residence called Villandraut, just outside Bazas), all the locations are very real.

So why make Lady Isabelle a mystic? Why bring God and theology into the series in the way that I have? As a medievalist, I believe that you cannot have a legitimate discussion or analysis of the period in which this story is set, and where its various locations are set, without bringing in aspects of mysticism and the Divine. Regardless of whether the reader is a spiritual person or not, I feel it is disingenuous to write about this time without including the role of the Church and how those in Europe, England, and Wales, related to it as an institution. It is a fact that for the average person living in the locations discussed, as well as the monarch and those in their court, the Church was the centre of their world in the fifteenth century. As the reader will note from what I outline in the series, the monastic hours, the monastic way of life, the presence of God; they were everywhere. The church bells rang, the nuns and priests and monks – those who sought or were in Holy Orders – were highly visible at this time in history.

Pembroke Castle

As the reader will also be aware if they have listened to the accompanying soundtrack to The Templar’s Garden entitled ‘Like as the Hart’, music, art, and poetry were all infused with Biblical themes. There were exceptions to this, of course, and the Italian Renaissance helped to usher in progressive changes that allowed for a vision of the world beyond the confines of theological doctrine and the Church in everyday life. But in my series, I want the reader to feel as though they are immersed in another world, both by means of the audio and visual senses, one that is set apart from how we are living today.

Likewise, the album(s) of music that accompany the books include recordings that will allow the reader to step back in time and hear how composers have addressed the very same themes I raise in the series in a musical format. ‘Like as the Hart’ does this very thing. It takes the reader through a number of choral interpretations of the same Biblical text, the words of Psalm 42:

Like as the hart desireth the water brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O Lord

These words are meaningful in the life of Lady Isabelle as she experiences trauma and despair at different parts of the story. The Psalmist describes the emotions that all humankind can relate; that the human condition is fraught with pain and suffering, but also experiences moments of elation and joy. Even today, the discipline of reading the Psalms is a significant part of daily Christian liturgy and formation.

Book two, Queen of Heaven, also has an album of choral music to accompany the text. The pandemic has slightly derailed its recording and production, but it will come. And when it does, it is my hope that the emotional content of the pieces I have selected will serve to further heighten the drama of the events the reader experiences throughout the narrative.

Perhaps the reader also might find it helpful to consider the series and its main character in the context that it was envisioned. Lady Isabelle, who is also called Isa, is still a child in book one. Her voice is that of an adolescent, not a mature adult; it mirrors her age not the age of the reader. Isa has never lived anywhere but within the safety of her family structure. When the reader first meets her, she is an awkward fourteen-year-old mystic, sheltered and naïve to the ways of the world and men. But she is observant. She is independent-minded, and she is just starting to see what God’s purpose is for her. In book two, Isa is far more mature. Gone is any awkwardness and hesitance; she has become more assertive and is a strong self-advocate. Yet everything she does and in every relationship that she has, she speaks of the Divine. As its title suggests, in Queen of Heaven, the voice of God is presented to Lady Isabelle through the Virgin Mary; through a female leader; as a mother. This, in itself, is not unique. Isa has read and studied the words of Mother Julian of Norwich; she knows of Julian’s visions and that Julian, too, has been witness to the female Divine.

So as not to disappoint, I must caution that readers of Queen of Heaven will not find within its pages heavy panting or heaving thrusting; it is definitely not what many call a bodice-ripper. But for readers who enjoy an adventure led by a strong and articulate female protagonist, with detailed glimpses of medieval life set across Europe, England and Wales, dotted with notable historical figures of the time – among them Marsilio Ficino, Edmund, and Jasper Tudor, Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII), plus many more – including a window to the Divine, then Queen of Heaven should not disappoint.

Happy reading! Ite missa est!

Rowan Cope signs first titles since joining the Duckworth Books team

Rowan Cope signs first titles since joining the Duckworth Books team


Duckworth’s very own Rowan Cope has signed Priscilla Morris’ Black Butterflies and Carmel McMahon’s In Ordinary Time, as her first acquisitions since joining us in August.

Morris’ Black Butterflies will take readers inside the siege of Sarajevo through the eyes of Zora, an artist and teacher who finds herself trapped in the Bosnian capital. While the siege deepens, she tries to withstand the unstoppable degradation and destruction, eventually escaping to safety with her daughter in England during the bitter winter of 1992.

Cope acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Sophie Lambert at C&W, for publication in May next year.

Mc Mahon’s non-fiction debut In Ordinary Time is a hybrid work of essays, poems and photographs drawing on the author’s family story and those of Irish women in the Celtic, early Christian and modern eras to explore themes of trauma, time, memory, and how we construct and record our history.

World English language rights were acquired from Paul Feldstein at the Feldstein Agency, for publication in February 2023.

Cope said: “I am thrilled to announce these two books, both by supremely talented and stimulating writers, as my first acquisitions for Duckworth. Both these titles and authors fit so well with the exciting direction in which we are taking the Duckworth list. Priscilla Morris’ debut novel set during the siege of Sarajevo is captivating, heartrending – an irresistible and beautifully crafted portrait of a woman and her city falling apart. As one is swept up in Priscilla’s storytelling, one also inevitably calls to mind the still-shocking fact that this siege, the longest in modern warfare, and the larger Balkans conflict of which it was part, happened on our doorstep and in our lifetime. We will publish to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the start of the siege (1992–96).

“Where the action of Black Butterflies focuses intensely on one unfolding event, Carmel Mc Mahon’s brilliant In Ordinary Time takes a broader view, reaching back into Irish history to tell a personal yet universally engaging story about family, class, trauma, grief, addiction, time and reconciliation. It is one of the most thought-provoking and absorbing works of creative non-fiction I have read all year, and recalled to me books such as Notes to Self, Motherwell and A Ghost in the Throat, though Carmel’s gift is all her own. Both these books mark the start of outstanding publishing careers.”

Rest in Pieces sources

Rest in Pieces sources


Please note, the material below is arranged in alphabetical order by corpse, including the bodies mentioned in sidebars.


Bianchi, Robert S. “Hunting Alexander’s Tomb.” Archaeology 46 (July/August 1993). http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/alexander/tomb.html.

Cummings, Lewis V. Alexander the Great. New York: Grove Press, 2004.

Curtius, Quintus. History of Alexander. Book X. Translated by John C. Rolfe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1946.

Doherty, Paul. The Death of Alexander the Great: What—or Who—Really Killed the Young Conqueror of the Known World? New York: Carroll & Graf, 2004.

Empereur, Jean-Yves. Alexandria Rediscovered. Translated by Margaret Maehler. New York: George Braziller, 1998.

Erskine, Andrew. “Life After Death: Alexandria and the Body of Alexander.” Greece & Rome 49, no. 2 (October 2002): 163–79.

Fox, Robin Lane. Alexander the Great. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.

Gialoúris, Nikólaos. The Search for Alexander: An Exhibition. New York: Little, Brown, 1980.

Saunders, Nicholas J. Alexander’s Tomb: The Two Thousand Year Obsession to Find the Lost Conqueror. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

Stoneman, Richard. Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.


Flynn, Errol. My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Autobiography of Errol Flynn. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2003.

Kobler, John. Damned in Paradise: The Life of John Barrymore. New York: Atheneum, 1977.

Mank, Gregory William, Charles Heard, and Bill Nelson. Hollywood’s Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W. C. Fields, Errol Flynn and “the Bundy Drive Boys.” Los Angeles: Feral House, 2007.

Murphy, Edwin. After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses. New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1995.

Peters, Margot. The House of Barrymore. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

Schickel, Richard. The Men Who Made the Movies. New York: Atheneum, 1975.

Wallace, David. Lost Hollywood. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001.


Butler, John. The Quest for Becket’s Bones: The Mystery of the Relics of St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

Koopmans, Rachel. Wonderful to Relate: Miracle Stories and Miracle Collecting in High Medieval England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

Morgan, Christopher and Andrew Alderson. “Becket’s Bones ‘Kept Secretly at Canterbury for 460 Years.’ ” Sunday Times (UK), June 22, 1997.

Thornton, W. Pugin. “Surgical Report on a Skeleton Found in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral (1888).” Archaeologia Cantiana XVII (1889): 257–60.

Walsham, Alexandra. “Skeletons in the Cupboard: Relics after the English Reformation.” Past and Present 206, supplement 5 (2010): 121–43.


Bankl, Hans and Hans Jesserer. “The Discovery and Examination of Bone Fragments from Beethoven’s Skull.” Edited by William Meredith. Translated by Hannah Leibmann. Beethoven Journal 20, nos. 1 & 2 (Summer/Winter 2005): 66–73.

Breuning, Gerhard von. Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

———. “The Skulls of Beethoven and Schubert.” Edited by William Meredith. Translated by Hannah Leibmann. Beethoven Journal 20, nos. 1 & 2 (Summer/Winter 2005): 58–60.

Davies, Peter J. Beethoven in Person: His Deafness, Illnesses, and Death. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Mai, François Martin. Diagnosing Genius: The Life and Death of Beethoven. Montreal, Canada: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007.

Martin, Russell. Beethoven’s Hair. New York: Broadway Books, 2000.

Meredith, William. “The History of Beethoven’s Skull Fragments: Part One.” Beethoven Journal 20, nos. 1 & 2 (Summer/Winter 2005): 1–25.

———. “Essential Facts and Principles Concerning the Beethoven Skull Fragments.” Beethoven Journal 20, nos. 1 & 2 (Summer/Winter 2005): 94–95.

Murphy, Dave. “Beethoven Skull Fragments Resurface.” San Francisco Chronicle, November 18, 2005. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/SAN-JOSE-Beethoven-skull-fragments-resurface-2560272.php.

Steen, Margaret. “Unravelling a 19th Century Mystery.” Stanford Business, May 2006.


Harte, Negley. “Radical Pants and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Times Higher Education Supplement (UK), September 9, 2005. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=198332&sectioncode=26.

Marmoy, C. F. A. “The ‘Auto-Icon’ of Jeremy Bentham at University College, London.” Medical History 2, no. 2 (April 1958): 77–86.

Rachlin, Harvey. “Jeremy Bentham: A Philosopher for the Ages.” In Lucy’s Bones, Sacred Stones, and Einstein’s Brain: The Remarkable Stories Behind the Great Objects and Artifacts of History, from Antiquity to the Modern Era, 203–7. New York: Henry Holt, 1996.

Richardson, Ruth. “Bentham and ‘Bodies for Dissection.’ ” Bentham Newsletter 10 (June 1986): 22–33.

Richardson, Ruth and Brian Hurwitz. “Jeremy Bentham’s Self-Image: An Exemplary Bequest for Dissection.” British Medical Journal 295 (1987): 195–98. doi: 10.1136/bmj.295.6591.195.

University College London Bentham Project. “Auto-Icon.” http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/who/autoicon.


Billy the Kid Museum. “About Billy the Kid.” http://billythekidmuseum.com/aboutbillythekid.htm.

Slatta, Richard W. The Mythical West: An Encyclopedia of Legend, Lore, and Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2001.


Harris, Paul. “Osama bin Laden Death: What to Do with Body Poses Dilemma for US.” Guardian (UK), May 2, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/02/osama-bin-laden-body -burial.

Kakutani, Michiko. “Bin Laden’s End, from the Beginning.” Review of Manhunt, by Peter L. Bergen. New York Times, May 3, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/books/manhunt-by-peter-l-bergen-about-the-bin-laden-killing.html.

Lawrence, Chris. “ ‘No Land Alternative’ Prompts bin Laden Sea Burial.” CNN.com, May 2, 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/aslapcf/05/02/bin.laden.burial.at.sea/index.html?iref=allsearch.

Leland, John and Elisabeth Bumiller. “Islamic Scholars Split Over Sea Burial for bin Laden.” New York Times, May 2, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/world/asia/03burial.html.

Lithwick, Dahlia. “Habeas Corpses: What Are the Rights of Dead People?” Slate, March 14, 2002. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2002/03/habeas_corpses.single.html.

“The ‘Manhunt’ to Capture Osama bin Laden.” Review of Manhunt, by Peter L. Bergen. NPR.com, May 1, 2012. http://www.npr .org/2012/05/01/151766454/the-manhunt-to-capture-osama-bin-laden.

Matus, Victor. “On the Disposal of Dictators.” Policy Review, no. 134 (December 1, 2005). http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/6528.

Schmidle, Nicholas. “Getting bin Laden: What Happened That Night in Abbottabad.” New Yorker, August 8, 2011. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/08/110808fa_fact_schmidle#ixzz1wWPAdSVY.

US Department of Defense. “DOD Background Briefing with Senior Defense Officials from the Pentagon and Senior Intelligence Officials by Telephone on US Operations Involving Osama bin Laden.” Transcript. May 2, 2011. http://www.defense.gov/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=4818.

Van Woerkom, Barbara. “Timeline: The Raid on Osama bin Laden’s Hideout.” NPR.org, May 3, 2011. http://www.npr.org/2011/05/03/135951504/timeline-the-raid-on-osama-bin-ladens-hideout.

Weitz, Yechiam. “ ‘We Have to Carry Out the Sentence.’ ” Haaretz, July 26, 2007. http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/we-have-to-carry-out-the-sentence-1.226299.


King, Melanie. The Dying Game: A Curious History of Death. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2008.

Trask, Kerry A. Black Hawk: The Battle for the Heart of America. New York: Henry Holt, 2006.

Wesson, Sarah, ed. “Makataimeshekiakiak: Black Hawk and His War.” Davenport (Iowa) Public Library. http://www.qcmemory.org/genealogy-and-history/local-history-info/the-people/black-hawk/.


Bentley, G. E. Jr. The Stranger From Paradise: A Biography of William Blake. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.

City of London. “Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.” http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Environment_and_planning/Parks_and_open_spaces/City_Gardens/bunhill.htm.

Friends of William Blake. “Blake Society’s Proposed Design.” http://www.friendsofblake.org/blake_proposed_design.htm.

Garrido, Luis and Carol Garrido. William Blake’s Final Resting Place. Self-published, 2005. Available at http://www.friendsofblake.org.


Barber, Thomas Gerrard. Byron—And Where He Is Buried. Hucknall, UK: H. Morley & Sons, 1939.

Crane, David. The Kindness of Sisters: Annabella Milbanke and the Destruction of the Byrons. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

Dash, Mike. “Erotic Secrets of Lord Byron’s Tomb.” Dry as Dust: A Fortean in the Archives (blog). http://blogs.forteana.org/node/147.

Eisler, Benita. Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.

Houldsworth, Arnold E. “Opening of Lord Byron’s Vault, 15 June 1938.” In The Life of Byron, by Elizabeth Longford, 223–26. Boston: Little, Brown, 1976.

Lewis, Anthony. “At Last Lord Byron Gets Place in Poets’ Corner in Westminster.” New York Times, May 7, 1968.

MacCarthy, Fiona. Byron: Life and Legend. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002.

Minta, Stephen. On a Voiceless Shore: Byron in Greece. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Rogers, Byron. Me: The Authorised Biography. London: Aurum, 2009.

Whipple, A. B. C. The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Final Years of Byron and Shelley. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.


Herath, Dharmaratna. The Tooth Relic and the Crown. Colombo, Sri Lanka: s.n., 1994.

Manseau, Peter. Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World’s Holy Dead. New York: Henry Holt, 2009.


Zbarksy, Ilya and Samuel Hutchinson. Lenin’s Embalmers. Translated by Barbara Bray. London: Harvill Press, 1999.


Meadows, Anne. Digging up Butch and Sundance. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

Slatta, Richard W. The Mythical West: An Encyclopedia of Legend, Lore, and Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2001.

Walker, Dale L. Legends and Lies: Great Mysteries of the American West. New York: Forge, 1997.


“Archive: On This Day.” Birmingham (UK) Post, March 2, 2002.

Associated Press. “Body Steal Suspect Sentenced.” Prescott (AZ) Courier, December 13, 1978.

“Chaplin Body Stolen from Swiss Grave.” New York Times, March 3, 1978.

“Chaplin’s Body Found Near His Swiss Home.” New York Times, May 18, 1978.

Fleischman, Sid. Sir Charlie Chaplin: The Funniest Man in the World. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2010.

Kannard, Brian. Skullduggery: 45 True Tales of Disturbing the Dead. Nashville, TN: Grave Distractions Press, 2009.

Molotsky, Irvin. “F.B.I.; The Chaplin Files: Can It Happen Again?” New York Times, January 22, 1986.

Robinson, David. Chaplin: His Life and Art. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.

Scovell, Jane. Oona: Living in the Shadows. New York: Warner Books, 1998.

Vinocur, John. “Chaplin’s Village Has Difficulty in Discussing Theft of His Coffin; He Wasn’t Known Well.” New York Times, March 4, 1978.


Critchley, Simon. The Book of Dead Philosophers. New York: Vintage Books, 2009.

Edwards, Catharine. Death in Ancient Rome. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.


Associated Press. “DNA Verifies Columbus’ Remains in Spain.” NBCNews.com, May 19, 2006. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12871458/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/dna-verifies-columbus-remains-spain/#.UCQqQo5xLpQ.

“Columbus Mystery Unravels.” BBC News, September 19, 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2268571.stm.

“ ‘Columbus Remains’ Taken for Tests.” BBC News, June 3, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2958034.stm.

“Dominican Republic: Where Lies Columbus?” Time, January 13, 1961.

Granzotto, Gianni. Christopher Columbus: The Dream and the Obsession. Translated by Stephen Sartarelli. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985.

Harney, Lisa. Columbus: Secrets from the Grave. DVD. Directed by Lisa Harney and Tom Pollock. Silver Spring, MD: Discovery Communications, 2004.

Hayden, Deborah. “Alas, Poor Yorick: Digging Up the Dead to Make Medical Diagnoses.” PLoS Medicine 2, no. 3 (2005): 184–86. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020060.

Kraus, Hans P. Sir Francis Drake: A Pictorial Biography. Amsterdam: N. Israel, 1970.

Lorenzi, Rossella. “DNA Suggests Columbus Remains in Spain.” Discovery News, October 6, 2004. http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20041004/columbus.html.

Nader, Helen. “Burial Places of Columbus.” In The Christopher Columbus Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Edited by Silvio A. Bedini. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

———. “Last Will and Testament.” In The Christopher Columbus Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. Edited by Silvio A. Bedini. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Schmidt-Nowara, Christopher. The Conquest of History: Spanish Colonialism and National Histories in the Nineteenth Century. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006.

Sharrock, David. “DNA may reveal the last voyage of Columbus’s bones.” Times (UK), June 3, 2003.

Shea, John Gilmary. “Where Are the Remains of Christopher Columbus?” Magazine of American History IX (January 1883).

Thacher, John Boyd. Christopher Columbus, His Life, His Work, His Remains as Revealed by Original Printed and Manuscript Records, Together with an Essay on Peter Martyr of Anghera and Bartolomé de las Casas, the First Historians of America. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1903–4.

Twiss, Sir Travers. Christopher Columbus: A Monograph on His True Burial Place. London: Trübner, 1879.

Woolls, Daniel. “Who Is Really Buried in Columbus’s Tombs? Teacher Pushes for DNA Tests on Remains.” Washington Post, June 30, 2002.


“Alistair Cooke’s Bones ‘Stolen.’ ” BBC News, December 22, 2005.

Borenstein, Seth and Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press. “US Steps Up Inspections of Human Tissue Industry.” Boston Globe, June 13, 2007. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/06/13/us_steps_up_inspections_of_human_tissue_ industry/.

Brick, Michael. “Alistair Cooke’s Bones Were Stolen for Implantation, His Family Says.” New York Times, December 23, 2005.http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/23/nyregion/23cooke.html.

———. “4 Men Charged in What Officials Call a $4.6 Million Trade in Human Body Parts.” New York Times, February 24, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/24/nyregion/24corpses.html.

Brick, Michael and Andy Newman. “Dentist’s Surrender Sought in Inquiry Into Plot to Loot Corpses.” New York Times, February 23, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/23/nyregion/23parts.html.

Cantor, Norman L. After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2010.

Chan, Sewell. “Man Sentenced for Plundering Body Parts.” New York Times, June 27, 2008. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes .com/2008/06/27/man-sentenced-for-plundering-body-parts/.

Feuer, Alan. “Dentist Pleads Guilty to Stealing and Selling Body Parts.” New York Times, March 19, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/19/nyregion/thecity/19bones.html.

Howard, Kate. “Alistair Cooke’s Ashes Scattered in Central Park.” Telegraph (UK), May 30, 2004. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1463173/Alistair-Cookes-ashes-scattered-in-Central-Park.html.

Kings County District Attorney. “Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn, and Rochester District Attorney Michael C. Green Announce Expanded Indictment in Illegal Tissue Harvesting Scheme.” Press release. Brooklyn, NY: October 18, 2006. http://www.brooklynda.org/News/press_releases_2006.htm#054.

McCarty, Mark. “FDA Gathers New Task Force Focused on Tissue Bank Issues.” Medical Device Daily, September 1, 2006.

“Plea Deal in US Body Parts Case.” BBC News, January 16, 2008.

Wells, Martha. “Current Good Tissue Practice (CGTP) Draft Guidance.” US Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/ . . . /UCM191675.pp.

Witten, Celia and David Elder. “Report of the Human Tissue Task Force.” US Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ . . . /TissueSafety/UCM114829.pdf.

US Food and Drug Administration. “FDA Forms Task Force on Human Tissue Safety.” Press release. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm108721.htm.

Zahn, Paula. “West Virginia Says Good-bye to Killed Miners.” Transcript. Paula Zahn Now, CNN, January 9, 2006. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0601/09/pzn.01.html.


Altick, Richard D. The Shows of London. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1978.

Arnold, Catharine. Necropolis: London and Its Dead. London: Simon & Schuster UK, 2006.

Fitzgibbons, Jonathan. Cromwell’s Head. Kew, UK: National Archives, 2008.

“Religion: Roundhead on the Pike.” Time, May 6, 1957.


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Kammen, Michael G. Digging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Mason, Haydn. Voltaire: A Biography. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981.

Pearson, Roger. Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom. New York: Bloomsbury, 2005.

“The Remains of Voltaire.” New York Times, July 18, 1881.

“Voltaire and Rousseau; Their Tombs in the Pantheon Opened and Their Bones Exposed.” New York Times, January 8, 1898.


Craughwell, Thomas J. Stealing Lincoln’s Body. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

Power, John Carroll. History of an Attempt to Steal the Body of Abraham Lincoln. Springfield, IL: H. W. Rokker, 1890.

Washington, George. “The Will of George Washington.” The Papers of George Washington. http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/will/text.html.


Burrell, Brian. Postcards from the Brain Museum: The Improbable Search for Meaning in the Matter of Famous Minds. New York: Broadway Books, 2004.

———. “The Strange Fate of Whitman’s Brain.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 20, no. 3 (Winter 2003): 107–33.


Cantor, Norman L. After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2010.

Johnson, Carrie. “Williams’ Shift from Will Must Be Proved.” St. Petersburg (FL) Times, July 20, 2002. http://www.sptimes.com/2002/07/20/news_pf/Citrus/Williams__shift_from_.shtml.

Johnson, Larry and Scott Baldyga. Frozen: My Journey into the World of Cryonics, Deception, and Death. New York: Vanguard Press, 2009.

“Response to Larry Johnson Allegations.” Alcor Life Extension Foundation, February 10, 2012. http://www.alcor.org/press/response.html.

Sandomir, Richard. “Please Don’t Call the Customers Dead.” New York Times, February 13, 2005.

———. “Report Says Facility Beheaded Williams.” New York Times, August 13, 2003.

———. “Williams Children Agree to Keep Their Father Frozen.” New York Times, December 21, 2002.

Verducci, Tom. “Tip of the Iceberg? Questions and Allegations About the Alcor Life Extension Foundation Extend Beyond the Williams Case.” Sports Illustrated, August 18, 2003.

———. “What Really Happened to Ted Williams.” Sports Illustrated, August 18, 2003.


Cantor, Norman L. After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2010.

Iserson, Kenneth V. Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies? Tucson, AZ: Galen Press, 1994.

“Statistics.” National Funeral Directors Association. http://www.nfda.org/index.php/media-center/statisticsreports.html.

Armed Forces Day: Reflective reads from Duckworth

Armed Forces Day: Reflective reads from Duckworth


On 26th June we celebrate Armed Forces Day. A special time for commemorating the wonderful servicemen, women, and their families past, present, and future. 

For those feeling reflective, we’ve rounded up a few of Duckworth’s non-fiction titles that reveal compelling tales of tribulation, transformation, and triumph within service and combat throughout the 20th century. 



The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle
Michael Stephenson

‘A great achievement of research, perception, and fine writing. Few other books have managed to convey the true experience of war with such power and clarity.’ Antony Beevor

Behind every soldier’s death lies a story, a tale not just of the cold mathematics of the battlefield but of an individual human being who gave his life. What psychological and cultural pressures brought him to his fate? What lies and truths convinced him to march towards his death? Covering warfare from prehistory through the present day, The Last Full Measure tells these soldiers stories, ultimately capturing the experience of war as few books ever have.


The Dardanelles Disaster
Dan van der Vat

‘Dan van der Vat has built a powerful reputation as a naval historian. The Dardanelles Disaster is a thundering assessment of a long-forgotten campaign that was a minefield of diplomacy and a failure of deep consequence that paved the way for the Russian revolution.’ Oxford Times

The British Navy’s failed attempt to capture Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia in 1915 marked a turning point of World War I. Acclaimed naval military historian Dan van der Vat argues that the disaster at the Dardanelles not only prolonged the war for two years and brought Britain to the brink of starvation, but also led to the Russian Revolution and contributed to the rapid destabilisation of the Middle East. With a narrative rich in human drama, ‘The Dardanelles Disaster’ highlights the diplomatic clashes from Whitehall to the Hellespont, Berlin to Constantinople, and St Petersburg to the Bosporus. Van der Vat analyzes then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill’s response to the obstacles he faced and describes the fateful actions of the Turkish, German, and British governments throughout the Gallipoli Campaign. With detailed analysis of the battle’s events and never-before-published information on the German navy’s mine-laying operations, ‘The Dardanelles Disaster’ tells a forgotten story from a fresh viewpoint, shedding light on one of World War I’s most pivotal moments – and in particular on one avoidable and monumental blunder.


Queen of Spies: Daphne Park, Britain’s Cold War Spy Master
Paddy Hayes

‘Dame Daphne’s story leaves us wondering about reality as seen through the eyes of a spy; and about how far spy work affected that reality.’ The Spectator

The only biography of Britain’s celebrated female spy – now fully updated with previously classified materials. From being raised in a Tanzanian shack, to attaining MI6’s most senior operational rank, Daphne Park led a highly unusual life. Drawing on first-hand accounts of intelligence workers close to agent Park, Hayes reveals how she rose in a male-dominated world to become Britain’s Cold War spy master. With intimate, nail-biting details Queen of Spies captures both the paranoia and on-the-ground realities of intelligence work from the Second World War to the Cold War, and the life of Britain’s celebrated female spy.


Siegfried Sassoon: Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend
Jean Moorcroft Wilson

A tour de force..one of the finest critical biographies of our time and an  important addition to understanding the impact of the Great War.’ Gladys Mary Coles, Friends of the Dymock Poets Newlsetter

Hailed as “invaluable” by the Times and “thorough and perceptive” by the Observer, Siegfried Sassoon encompasses the poet’s complete life and works, from his patriotic youth that led him to the frontline, and flamboyant love affairs. This single-volume opus also includes never-before-published poems that have only just come to light through the author’s work. With over a decade’s research and unparalleled access to Sassoon’s private correspondence, Wilson presents the complete portrait, both elegant and heartfelt, of an extraordinary man, and an extraordinary poet.


An incorrect account of the Abney family

An incorrect account of the Abney family


‘Beyond them speckled white cattle dipped their heads into the grass. A wood pigeon cooed drowsily. It was all looking so perfect, yet what a lot of work it all was to maintain.’

Beacon-like in its guidance, the role of Measham Hall does as much as any living individual to set Alethea on a path of transformation. Assured and impressive in status, it wields a power that our protagonist must master if she is to live by her newfound values of liberty.

Author Anna Abney is among the last descendants of the Abney family line, residents of the real Measham Hall, a lost house of Derbyshire from 1730. ‘The Measham Hall’ series is a fictionalised account of her ancestors’ lives, the richness of which she writes of here.

I heard about our ancestral home, Measham Hall, from my grandmother and great uncle. Unfortunately, it was blown up by the coal board in 1959 because the mine activity underground had made it unsafe, so I never got to stay there. It had been sold to the Measham Colliery in the 1920s and was turned into flats after the Second World War. Still, I have a rather charming watercolour of it, painted by Sir William de Wiveleslie Abney (1843-1920), a former director of the Science Museum and President of the Royal Photographic Society. W de W Abney invented the Abney level. He and his brother Charles were also founder members of the Derby Photographic Society.

The Abneys of Measham were originally Norman interlopers; Barons of Aubigny, from the Port of Carteret, who came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 (one of them was William I’s cousin and cupbearer), settling (or taking land) in Derbyshire. A sir Niel, Baron d’Aubigny married Lady Helena, daughter of Richard II. In the thirteenth century Nicholas D’Albini (spelling was flexible back then) married Cecelia, daughter of William de Meysham.

According to an American Abney descendant, the Abney family can boast of no less than 106 kings, 50 queens, 42 dukes and 10 monks among our forebears. I’m not sure how all this royalty can be accounted for (or why there might be twice as many kings as queens), but there are certainly a few interesting characters and one (quite famous) royal I can account for.

Two Abney brothers, Paul and Dannet, emigrated to Virginia at the end of the seventeenth century. In 1679 Lieutenant Paul Abney was taken prisoner, with his sloop and passengers, by a Spanish man-of-war. Abney produced a pass, which the Vice-Admiral contemptuously wiped his breeches with, before commandeering the vessel.  Paul lived to tell the tale and this branch of the Abneys was granted land in Virginia and later, Carolina. This raises disturbing questions about whether they were slave owners; an area I intend to address in a later sequel to The Master of Measham Hall.

The William Abney who built Measham Hall was born in 1713. He died in 1800 and his obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine partly inspired the idea of ‘the master’ in The Master of Measham Hall. Apparently, he was ‘the last of that old-fashioned race of English proprietors who now only survive amongst the writers of romance.’ He spent all his time in his country estate, always putting the needs of his poorer neighbours before his own. His coachman had worked for the family for over fifty years and his servants treated him more like a brother than a master. ‘His domestics had grown grey in his service and it was curious to see him waited upon by four or five tottering servants of nearly his own age’. Although, unlike the Hawthornes in Book Two of The Master of Measham Hall, he was an ardent supporter of William of Orange and later, the House of Hanover. He wrote a family history entitled ‘An incorrect account of the Abney family’, a title I have borrowed here, since, as you might have noticed from the dates, my ‘Measham Hall’ was built a century earlier.

Like the Hawthorne family, it was said that in ‘the confusion of the Civil wars … the family suffered considerably’. James Abney, (b. 1599) participated in the Royalist defence of Ashby Castle in 1645, where he was taken prisoner by Oliver Cromwell, although later released. Unlike Alethea’s father, James Abney kept his estates throughout the Commonwealth and was appointed Sheriff for Derby in 1656. It probably helped that the Abneys were distantly related through marriage to the Cromwell family.

Sir Thomas Abney (1640- 1722) became Lord Mayor of London in 1700, despite being a Dissenter – a person who refused to join the Established Church of England, which caused some controversy. Daniel Defoe, a fellow Dissenter, denounced Abney for taking communion in an Anglican church in order to become mayor. Alethea in The Master of Measham Hall is equally pragmatic when it comes to occasional conformity – taking Anglican communion to avoid being fined or imprisoned. Thomas was also one of the founding Directors of the Bank of England and a governor of St. Thomas Hospital.

His second wife, Mary Abney (thirty-six years younger than Thomas!) inherited her brother’s estate in Stoke Newington, moving in there after her husband died. She carried out much of the landscaping of what is now Abney Park Cemetery.

Dr. Isaac Watts, known as the father of English hymnody and famous for hymns such as, ‘Our God, Our Help in Ages Past’, ‘came to stay with the Abneys for a week and remained a guest of Mary and her daughters for the rest of his life – another 36 years. Hopefully he didn’t outstay his welcome.

The Abneys’ last surviving child, Elizabeth, apparently something of a Miss Havisham, died unmarried, directing that the estate should be sold off and the proceeds left to various nonconformist charities. Fittingly, in 1839 several Protestant businessmen set up the Abney Park Cemetery Company and in 1840 the Abney manor became one of the only cemeteries in England open to all dissenters regardless of denomination.

Most of my family history has been passed onto me by my great uncle, another William Abney. Bill was an RAF pilot in the Second World War, flying over 30 different kinds of aircraft. His dare-devil activities earned him the nickname, ‘Ace Abney’ and he often ‘flew blind’ over cover of night. Bill was also an actor, working in stage, film and television. He was the last male in the Abney line.

I promised you more royalty, well, my great-grandmother, Janet Abney, neé Littlejohn of Aberdeen, was first cousin to Ruth, Lady Fermoy, grandmother of Princess Diana. Fans of The Crown might recall a rather unsympathetic Lady Fermoy in the last series. Because of this family connection, in 2012 my father was approached by Dr Jim Wilson, a geneticist from Edinburgh university. It turned out Dad’s mtDNA contains a genetic marker indigenous to India. It is rare even there, only being found in about 1% of Indians, but it proved he and Diana had a shared Indian motherline passed down from a great, great grandmother. A result which led to the Daily Mail headline, ‘DNA tests reveal Wills is actually part-Indian!’ Or what The Times called a ‘Doomed Indian love story’. But that’s the subject for another book.



Cope joins Duckworth as Publisher

Cope joins Duckworth as Publisher


Duckworth Books are pleased to announce that Rowan Cope will be joining our team on 9 August 2021 in the role of Publisher. She will report to Managing Director Pete Duncan.

Cope began her career at David Godwin Associates, followed by commissioning roles at Little, Brown, where she published bestsellers such as Tracey Thorn’s Bedsit Disco Queen and Netflix hit Orange is the New Black, and then Simon & Schuster, where she founded the Scribner UK list and rose to Associate Publisher. Scribner UK garnered Sunday Times bestsellers and Booker Prize nominations, including for Ian McGuire’s The North Water. Most recently, she has been Editorial Director at Faber & Faber, Penguin Press and Granta Books, working with authors such as Francesca Wade, Sara Pascoe, David Mitchell, Jared Diamond, Sir David Spiegelhalter, Suzanne Simard, Mariana Enríquez, Mark O’Connell and Sandra Newman.

Rowan Cope said: “Duckworth has a long and august pedigree, having published some of the finest writers in English in its history, and I’m thrilled to join at a pivotal moment for the company, to help shape its twenty-first-century revitalization. Duckworth today is smart, agile and blessed with a dedicated and energetic team who can offer a personalised approach. We have many brilliant and highly acclaimed authors on the list, and I can’t wait to work with them and to bring more of the best and brightest writers of non-fiction and historical fiction to join us.”

Pete Duncan said: “The whole team couldn’t be more excited to have Rowan join us and take the lead of Duckworth’s publishing at this moment of transformation. I have been a huge admirer of Rowan’s publishing since her Little, Brown days, and her experience, creativity and commercial acumen are second to none. For Duckworth, this is a fresh marker on its journey of reinvention as one of the great independent publishing houses.”