August 14, 2018 by Lydia Syson

Adshot pic - best?… you’ve reached the website of Lydia Syson, author of MR PEACOCK’S POSSESSIONS, (aTimes and Sunday Times Book of the Year 2018, available as UK paperback from 21st March 2019), the YA historical/political novels LIBERTY’S FIRETHAT BURNING SUMMER, A WORLD BETWEEN US, & the biography DOCTOR OF LOVE: DR JAMES GRAHAM AND HIS CELESTIAL BED, all critically acclaimed. Do visit Reviews to discover what other readers have thought of all these books, and scroll down from there to find out more about the history behind each of the novels. You’ll find the latest blogpost just below

Find out more about Lydia here, and about author events and school visits here and about academic writing workshops here.



Buy THAT BURNING SUMMER here or here if you’re in the US

Buy A WORLD BETWEEN US here or the iBook edition with extra features (music, interactive maps, photographs, interviews with historians, archive materials and more) here at iTunes


Or better still, ask your nearest independent bookshop for the books.

Photograph by Gianluca De Girolamo, Adshot, London.


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.

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

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

2018 news


February 24, 2018 by Lydia Syson

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

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.

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

US publication


January 31, 2017 by Lydia Syson

The new Sky Pony edition of That Burning Summer will be on the shelves of American bookshops from today, in beautiful hardback, introducing a whole new set of readers to the tensions, excitement and quirks of life in Britain in World War 2.  Invasion, spyfever, fear of flying, pacifism, betrayal…and love, all in a corner of England so close to France you could hear the fighting across the channel: Romney Marsh, often referred to as the Fifth Continent.

This new edition doesn’t just have a striking new cover. It’s got a whole new penultimate keep reading

Poems inspired by GUERNICA, 1937


December 14, 2016 by Lydia Syson

A report earlier this year concluded that the number of civilians around the world killed by explosive weapons had risen by 55% in five years.  The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has finally hit the headlines this week – a crisis that has been building for nearly two years due to a proxy war in which the UK government is directly implicated.  Today, the evacuation of Aleppo has been delayed, and airstrikes continue.  It’s hard for young people in the UK to make sense of any of this. It’s harder still, now that what was once called ‘total warfare’ has become commonplace, to imagine what it was like in the 1930s when, during the Spanish Civil War, the first cities in Europe were attacked from the air.

keep reading

New Blood for the Republic: the Spanish Civil War, eighty years on


September 6, 2016 by Lydia Syson

80th anniversary commemorations and conferences have been taking place up and down this country as well as Spain to mark the Spanish Civil War, initiated by a right-wing military coup in July 1936, followed by Franco’s long dictatorship.  It’s a measure of just how involved Britain was in the conflict which many see as a rehearsal for World War Two.  Giving a paper myself about the evolution of my YA novel A World Between Us at the fascinating ‘Spanish Civil War in World Literature’ conference at London’s School of Advanced Studies, I mentioned the iBook edition which was put together in 2012 with the generous help of vast numbers of archives and libraries in the UK and US (thanks here). The image above of a young female anti-fascist donating blood to be sent to the front lines for wounded Republican soldiers was provided by the London School of Economics. The iBook 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

"A wonderful book" CAROL DRINKWATER

"A fantastic historical fiction debut" THE BOOKSELLER

"Syson brings history alive" THE OBSERVER

Search this site

Enter your email address to subscribe to my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.