About Me/Contact


Lydia Syson for blogLydia Syson grew up in Botswana and London and spent her early career as a BBC World Service radio producer.  She has since written a PhD on Timbuktu (2003), a critically acclaimed biography of Britain’s first fertility guru, DOCTOR OF LOVE: JAMES GRAHAM AND HIS CELESTIAL BED (2008), and three novels for young adults published by Hot Key Books. Her YA books, set in the Spanish Civil War (A WORLD BETWEEN US – 2012) and World War Two (THAT BURNING SUMMER – 2013) and the Paris Commune of 1871, (LIBERTY’S FIRE – 2015), were loosely inspired in different ways by her own family history. For her adult fiction debut,  MR PEACOCK’S POSSESSIONS (2018), set on a remote volcanic island in Oceania in the 1870s, Lydia has borrowed from the family history of her partner, who was born in New Zealand.

Contact details:

Email Lydia at lydiasyson@gmail.com

You can follow her on Twitter: @lydiasyson

Lydia is represented by Catherine Clarke at Felicity Bryan Associates

Other work:

Lydia provides a variety of author events for schools, academic writing workshops for universities, and one-to-one mentoring for emerging writers of adult fiction and non-fiction.

Find out more about her work as a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow here: https://rlfconsultants.com/consultants/lydia-syson/

Find out more about school visits here.

Please email if you’d like to make a booking or discuss a possible event, training workshop or mentoring in more detail.

Lydia is also one of a small team of children’s authors delivering free creative writing workshops for schools at the Wallace Collection which can be booked via the museum’s education department.





Vox is a series of short audio recordings made Royal Literary Fund writers.  Here’s Lydia on Why I writeHow I Write and writing a Letter to her younger self.

Read my privacy policy here.


  1. Phoebe says:

    oh no i can’t access the follow button

  2. Brian Durrans says:

    Hi Lydia
    I used to be a colleague of Luke’s at the BM and met you I think at KCL a few years ago at an event linked to the Culture of the Enlightenment MA course on which I still do a little teaching. Just came across this book you’ve written on the Spanish Civil War. Well done for that (from an old Communist). My own are no longer young enough but I’m sure I can find a teenage son or daughter of a friend to buy it for.
    Hope sales go stratospheric

    Best wishes

  3. Brigitte says:

    Hi Lydia
    I just read your old mails in a box… and find more recent news on the net. I m sure i will get a chance to read all that. All the best to you !

  4. Seda says:

    hi Lydia,
    I have just ordered both of your books on line and I can’t wait to read them. Well done on recieving such amazing reviews too. I hope the kids are well :)All the best!
    Seda-the au-pair

  5. Peter Collins says:

    Hi, Lydia. A search for Lewis Clive brought me to your pages. Like you, I read Richard Baxell’s excellent and horrifying Unlikely Warriors and came across the name of this unusual IB’er. I wonder if you know much more about him or could point me in the direction of any literature about him. Thanks. Peter

  6. Peter Collins says:

    Reply received; very grateful.

  7. Sienna James says:

    Hello Lydia,
    I’m home-educated and almost fourteen and have aspirations of becoming a historical romance author. I absolutely love your books. I have read That Burning Summer and A World Between Us, and have ordered Liberty’s Fire.
    What made you want to write history? Your books are just the kind that I want to write – but there are so few I can find. Mostly teenage books seem to be vampires or sci-fi or modern books about school relationships, and I don’t like those genres at all. Did you think there would be a better chance of getting published as there are not many historical books for teenagers?
    Thanks, I’m really interested in how all authors started.

    • Lydia Syson says:

      Hello Sienna

      It’s lovely to hear from you and I’m absolutely delighted that my books have struck such a chord with you. I actually became really interested in history relatively late in life, partly through my children who loved history, partly through a PhD I did which was historical and literary, and then a non-fiction book for adults about an eighteenth-century doctor. I think one reason I started writing these kind of books is because my daughter was rather like you and we both felt the same way as you do!

      But sadly, publishers seem to find it much harder to sell historical fiction in very large quantities. I’m not exactly sure why, but I do worry that lots of people assume they won’t like it, or are a little nervous, and don’t give it a go! Unfortunately it actually makes it even harder to get published! But you absolutely mustn’t let that put you off. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and the great thing about writing historical novels is it gives you a great excuse to discover all sorts of other stuff while you’re researching, so it’s always time well spent. We definitely need a new generation of historical novelists.

      I used to write a lot of fiction when I was your age, and then I just stopped when I went to university, and it was really hard to get started again, so I think the most important thing is never to stop writing. There are more and more competitions for young writers run by publishers so do keep a look out for those too.

      I look forward to seeing your name in a bookshop one day, and I’d love to hear what you think of Liberty’s Fire when you’ve read it.

      Thanks for getting in touch and all the best with your writing!


  8. Andrew says:

    Hi Lydia –

    Where’s the meeting point for Saturday’s anarchist free school walk? I’m keen to be there.


    • Lydia Syson says:

      Great! We meet at the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre, 39 Tottenham Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 4RX and will finish there too. Look forward to seeing you on Saturday, and sorry not to get back to you sooner.

  9. Nigel Todd says:

    Hello Lydia.

    I just came across your Fitzrovia blog whilst googling for Nannie Dryhurst links. I was able to include some information about her and Henry Nevinson’s connection with the 1890s Newcastle-based Clousden Hill Free Communist and Co-operative Colony that Five Leaves has just published as an updated second edition of Roses & Revolutionists (www.fiveleavesbookshops.co.uk). There’s little that’s new about your great-great-grandmother in the book, I’m afraid, though some insights into Nevinson’s appalling views about women! I think they may have spent a few days in Newcastle and Durham together. Do you know if anyone is doing a more in depth biography of her? I saw that the National Library of Ireland seems to have quite a lot of material about her life. It certainly needs doing by someone!

    Best wishes.

    Nigel Todd

  10. Myra Tomkinson says:

    I have just finished Mr Peacock’s Possessions – a most excellent book, thank you.

  11. John Zacharopoulos says:

    Hi Lydia,
    Your story on Kropotkin brought me to your page. Thank you for sharing that

  12. Alannah McCann says:

    I have a granddaughter who I think might enjoy your books for teens. She is interested in history. I will try and buy some of them for Christmas.

  13. Dear Lydia,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful tribute to the Polish Airmen that made to Britain.

    I was so lucky that Michal Leszkiewicz married my mother, survived the war; and even survived the Korean War. My sister was born in Malta which was where family were stationed in 1950.

    I was born in 1952 which means I am 70 this year. Michal Leszkiewicz never really settled in Britain, but the RAF was good to us as they sent us (myself and my sister) to Boarding School (Catholic, Preparatory and Private) for 10 years (8-18).

    Best Regards,

    Edward Michael Leszkiewicz

    P.S. The website below is about me. My father was also good at Maths, but of course his life changed forever in 1939. At the bottom of the website is my about. Enjoy Ed.

    • Lydia Syson says:

      Dear Ed,
      It’s so good to hear from you, and I’m particularly pleased as I have been very bad about updating and checking this website over the last few years, and I’d have been very sorry to have missed your comment. As you’ll have gathered, reading your father’s diary made an enormous impression on me, and I hope you’ll be happy with the way I’ve used elements of his story to bring the experiences of the Polish Airmen in Britain to life for young readers. My novel, ‘That Burning Summer’, is really a tribute to your father and men like him! It’s good to know more of his story — and I’d like to know more of yours but I couldn’t see a website link in your post. Maybe you could email it to me instead? lydiasyson@gmail.com. Thank you so much for getting in touch. It means a great deal to me. All the very best, Lydia

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"A mesmerising portrait of a family unravelling" THE TIMES (Best historical fiction in 2018)

"Powerful, intense and beautiful" HISTORICAL NOVEL REVIEW

"This tense, evocative, richly-imagined novel conjures the voices of a strange time and place, and makes them universal" EMMA DARWIN

"A wonderful book" CAROL DRINKWATER

"A fantastic historical fiction debut" THE BOOKSELLER

"Syson brings history alive" THE OBSERVER

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