I blogged last month about my pleasure in reading General Gordon's diary from Khartoum while I was researching my novel Pharaoh, and how I particularly relished his attention to detail - describing everything with an engineer's eye, and calculating quantities and distances as closely as possible. One great advantage of this was that I knew that I could rely on his sketch maps as a basis for the maps that my publisher Headline created for the novel, both of which are reproduced here along with a printed original from Gordon's diary
two Victorian campaign medals shown here were among my most prized artefacts while
I was writing Pharaoh, and appear as
illustrations in several editions of the novel. My 19th century
protagonist is a Royal Engineers officer in the 1884 campaign to relieve
General Gordon in Khartoum, and I was thrilled to discover a medal named to an
actual R.E. sapper who took part in the campaign. These two medals were awarded
to all British soldiers and sailors who saw active service in Egypt and Sudan
from 1882 to 1889, and were dated accordingly ...
One of the great pleasures for me in researching my novel Pharaoh was acquiring an original copy of General Charles Gordon’s Journals, covering his final months as Governor-General in Khartoum in 1884-5 before the city was overrun by Mahdist forces and he was killed. I’d wanted to find out more about his archaeological and ethnographic interests, but I found myself utterly absorbed by his day-to-day management of the city and the problems he faced. Unlike his other published work of the period ...
In my novel Pharaoh my Victorian protagonist Major Edward Mayne has a secret purpose for being with the Nile expedition, but he operates in the guise of an intelligence officer whose job is to scout ahead of the river column to spot obstacles and any evidence of enemy activity. He takes his sketchbook with him to record features of the river, and in his spare time back at camp draws scenes of river activity that he sends anonymously to The Illustrated London News for publication ....
This photo shows Major Horatio Herbert Kitchener of the Royal Engineers, recognisable from the image of him years later as a Field Marshal in the famous First World War recruitment poster. Here we see him fresh from the Nile campaign of 1884-5, on the cusp of a career that would see his meteoric rise to Sirdar of the Egyptian Army, Commander-in-Chief in India and finally Secretary of State for War in 1914. The popular perception of Kitchener is built on that recruitment poster, which has become associated with the castigation of British leadership in the First World War. But in researching my novel Pharaoh ...
One of my great-great uncles, Norman Martin Gibbins, was a Cambridge mathematician and chess aficionado whose main claim to fame was a paper he published in The Mathematical Gazette in 1944 entitled ‘Chess in Three and Four Dimensions.’ During the First World War, after being wounded as an infantry officer on the Western Front, he’d worked as a cipher officer for military intelligence ...