Author Archive



    May 18, 2023 by Lydia Syson

    Adshot pic - best?… you’ve reached the website of Lydia Syson, writer, educator and Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow.

    Photograph by Gianluca De Girolamo, Adshot, London.

  2. Article: Breaking into the middle of the story. . .


    May 17, 2023 by Lydia Syson

    I was delighted to read Paloma Fresno-Calleja’s very perceptive analysis of Mr Peacock’s Possessions in the journal Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. In her own words:

    Abstract: This article analyses Lydia Syson’s Mr Peacock’s Possessions as a neo-Victorian Robinsonade. In order to assess the contemporary pertinence of the format, I organize my discussion around the notion of un/settlement, a concept which applies to both the frustrated process of colonial domestication of the island depicted in the novel and to the author’s project of writing back to the narrative and ideological codes of the Victorian Robinsonade. The term “un/settlement” is also useful to explore the novel’s engagement with the violent colonial history of the region, which resurfaces in the present forcing the characters (and the author) to recover and narrate those stories and thus settle their debt with that past. The article starts by contextualizing Syson’s novel in relation to a long tradition of castaway narratives, and then moves on to discuss the novel in the light of neo-Victorian and postcolonial preoccupations with the possibilities and limitations of historical revision and reparation.

    Paloma Fresno-Calleja (2023) Breaking into the Middle of the Story: Reading Lydia Syson’s Mr Peacock’s Possessions as a Neo-Victorian Robinsonade, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, DOI: 10.1080/00111619.2022.2162366

  3. Writers’ Rights and Human Rights


    July 16, 2018 by Lydia Syson

    Here’s a link to a piece I’ve written for the Historical Writers’ Association excellent online magazine, Historia about tackling slavery in fiction, and thinking through the risks of cultural appropriation. Comments are most welcome.

    You can join HWA here and subscribe to receive the latest Historia articles and reviews in your inbox here.

    And if you’ve not yet got a copy of Mr Peacock’s Possessions, and/or are setting off somewhere for the summer with minimal luggage and don’t want to be weighed down by a hardback, however beautiful, until the end of July only you can buy it the ebook to read on your phone, tablet or Kindle for a mere £1.49. It’s one of Amazon’s monthly deals.

  4. Reports from Raoul – 30.2622° S 178.5948° E


    June 14, 2018 by Lydia Syson

    I’ve been spending the week going through my notes and listening to sound recordings made on the HMNZS Canterbury in the Kermadecs earlier this year, reliving some magnificent moments as I write a number of features for various newspapers and magazines both on the expedition and the human history of Raoul Island. keep reading

  5. Bookings & Events


    May 24, 2018 by Lydia Syson

    Please contact to discuss bookings of any kind. You’ll find more about her work in universities as a Royal Literary Consultant Fellow here and about school visits here

    School creative writing workshops at The Wallace Collection can be booked directly with the museum.

  6. Mr Peacock’s Possessions: sources and background reading


    May 4, 2018 by Lydia Syson

    As noted in the book, the most important sources for Mr Peacock’s Possessions were:

    Elsie K Morton Crusoes of Sunday Island, 1957.

    Steven Gentry, Raoul & the Kermadecs: New Zealand’s Northernmost Islands, Steele Roberts, 2013.

    Margaret Pointer, Niue 1774-1974: 200 years of contact and change, Otago University Press, 2015.

    SOAS London Missionary Society Archives

    keep reading

  7. Heading towards publication day. . .


    May 3, 2018 by Lydia Syson

    As I write this in London, the Kermadecs – the chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific where Mr Peacock’s Possessions is set – feel further away than ever.  Here’s a photograph of me back in March saying a sad farewell to Raoul, reimagined in my book as Monday Island.  I’d come within feet of its landing rock in a NZ Navy speedboat, flown over the island in a  keep reading

  8. 2018 news


    February 24, 2018 by Lydia Syson

    A book cover, an expedition, a story. keep reading

  9. Authors for Grenfell Tower auction


    June 23, 2017 by Lydia Syson

    Raise money for residents affected by the Grenfell Towers fire through the Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund and get a bookish bargain at the same time. There’s so much on offer here from tea with authors, a cookery lesson – even your entire family in a children’s novel!

    Bid generously and frequently.  Buy for yourself! Buy for others!  Get ahead with Christmas, birthday, wedding presents…endless options.  It’s incredibly easy to bid and you can do it from all over the world.  Just enter the amount you’d like to pay in sterling in the comments section.

    I’m offering help with your writing – fiction or non-fiction.  Full details here.

    Thanks for your support and for spreading the word.

  10. World Book Week writing competition results. . . and other news


    June 6, 2017 by Lydia Syson

    Authors aren’t just for World Book Day, and the positive effects of an author visiting a school continue to have an impact long after books and banners have been packed up.  (Here I am at Sidcot School, Somerset, where bookseller Books on the Hill kindly looked after sales and signing.) Not that the author always sees this.  Happily, some of the schools I visited in March this year have sent me a selection of the writing their students produced in response to our sessions. I promised to send a hardback copy of the US edition of That Burning Summer to the author of the story I liked best.  Little did I realise how hard it would be to choose.

    keep reading

“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

“Syson brings history alive” THE OBSERVER

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