Former Head of History Launches Literary Career

Alumnae, Staff Success

Dr Alex Kolaczkowski taught history at the Royal High School from 2001-2013 and was also Joint Head of Department for some of that time.

Now retired from teaching she is about to launch her first novel. Here she tells us more…..

My years teaching History at the RHS, and before that teaching in Oxfordshire, Surrey and Somerset, were very happy ones. It was a delight to help others learn and to spend my teaching career working with a subject I love.

After leaving my full time post and spending much of 2013 - 2014 travelling and indulging in a great deal of reading of novels, I was inspired to write one myself. I was also told I had to do it by family and friends as I had already filled up all available shelf space and it was time to be creative.

Using the pseudonym Alex E. Robertson I have written the first of a planned trilogy of books set in the 1830s and leading up to the First Opium War. Having taught early nineteenth century politics for most of my career this period provided me with a natural habitat.

The action in my book Riot and Retribution takes place in 1831, against the historical backcloth of the Reform Bill riots in Bristol and Bath and the lead up to the Opium Wars with China, the first of which broke out in 1839. It has a mix of high and low politics, a dash of love, murder and mayhem. It has more action than Georgette Heyer would have approved, but apart from that I have enjoyed working within the language and cultural restraints of the time.

I have become attached to my Welsh hero Nathaniel and his terrier Caradoc, my great girl Emma Peterson and my wondrous Chinese hero Cornelius Lee. To enter the spirit of another time is a fascinating journey. To clothe ourselves in the sensibilities of the people and fully understand how they felt is impossible, but through fiction we can experiment and try on their thoughts and feelings. I have had a good time in the literary dressing up box and hope my readers get some pleasure from the tale.

The first of the launch events will be at Mr B’s bookshop in John Street on the evening of Tuesday 19th April, starting at 6.45pm. Once they are completed I will return to my desk as I am busy working on my second book which moves between the Basque country during the Napoleonic Wars and Paris in the late 1820s, before returning to the West Country in 1833.

To follow my progress see: