Writing competition results


May 2, 2014 by Lydia Syson

Warsaw, September 1939

Last month I wrote about a high-tech school visit I’d made to Sydenham School in South London. Today I’m delighted to announce the results of the creative writing competition. keep reading

Diving deeper: into the ‘Glass Room’


April 27, 2014 by Lydia Syson

South London Press, 21.3.14

Writing historical fiction demands total immersion.  It’s a fairly obsessive process, but well worth it.  Bit by bit, you build up an increasingly accurate and nuanced picture of the world your characters inhabit, discover what makes them tick, what might affect the way they think and feel about events.  Not surprisingly, I was immediately intrigued when I was invited to use the new ‘immersion room’ at Sydenham School, London, for a planned event with some of their year 8 and 9 students. keep reading



April 19, 2014 by Lydia Syson

Project UKYA Button

I’m not going to assume that everybody who reads this will instantly understand the title of this post, but I have a feeling that in twenty or thirty years time, someone, somewhere, will be writing a thesis about the phenomenon that is UKYA.  And nobody will need an explanation. keep reading

Len Crome Memorial Lecture 2014: Taking Sides


March 2, 2014 by Lydia Syson

Hora de Espana magazine cover

The Spanish Civil War ‘gripped the imagination of a generation’, said Valentine Cunningham this weekend at Taking Sides: Artists and Writers on the Spanish Civil War.  To judge from the huge and variously-aged turnout at the event, not to mention the responses I’ve had from young readers of my own novel on the subject, it will continue to do so for several generations to come.   keep reading

National Libraries Day


February 8, 2014 by Lydia Syson


Today’s the day to show your love for all the libraries in the country, and celebrate with millions of other library lovers. You can read my guest blog for NLD2014 here and find out more about events near you and get involved here.  So here’s to libraries everywhere! Can you imagine life without them?

Authors Take Sides


January 26, 2014 by Lydia Syson


Who is this glorious woman?

If you saw the recent production of The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic in London you’ll be interested in her involvement in the campaigns on both sides of the Atlantic to free these nine young black men falsely charged with raping two white women on a freight train in Alabama in 1931.  The dazzlingly beautiful, taboo-breaking daughter of a British shipping magnate, Nancy Cunard started her career as a journalist with the Associated Negro Press (ANP), but she was also a poet, political activist and a publisher.  Charismatic and idealistic, she clearly had a genius for motivating the radical intellectual circles, black and white, in which she largely moved. keep reading



January 14, 2014 by Lydia Syson

HMS Ark Royal in Action© IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 284)

Ravilious in Pictures: The War Paintings by James Russell (The Mainstone Press) – one of the most thoughtful and appropriate Christmas presents I received last month – has many resonances for That Burning Summer.  Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) was probably the best known of the three British Official War Artists who were killed during the Second World War, keep reading

Wartime Christmas


December 22, 2013 by Lydia Syson

Carnegie Advent

Today’s war-themed window in the Carnegie 2014 Advent Calendar by We Sat Down is my inspiration for this final post of the year. Christmas in wartime tends to be peculiarly poignant – so often dark with separation, and haunted by the ghosts of past celebrations.  Ritual is disrupted, and hope can seem fragile.  Both That Burning Summer and A World Between Us include not scenes, but memories of Christmas. keep reading

Competition: The History Girls


November 30, 2013 by Lydia Syson

Fairfield church interior with hopsThis week there’s a chance to win a copy of That Burning Summer thanks to the The History Girls - if you already don’t know this consistently thought-provoking blog, I highly recommend exploring it.  Find out here how mooching for years on Romney Marsh inspired me to writeThat Burning Summer,  keep reading

Island of Last Hope


November 25, 2013 by Lydia Syson


A group of Polish fighter pilots walking away from a Hawker Hurricane in October 1940, probably at RAF Northolt in West London. They were apparently photographed after a sortie – one of over a thousand made in the first six months alone of Squadron 303′s formation.  The expressions on these young men’s faces are mixed – relief, uncertainty, perhaps even surprise and joy that they are actually still alive. keep reading


Find out about SCHOOL VISITS here




20 January 2015:National Literacy Trust teacher training day, Leicester

29 January 2015:Hay Festival Scribblers Tour to Trinity St Davids University

10 February 2015:Camberwell Library book group author visit


9 May 2015:Philosophy Football event

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