Lydia Syson writes historical and political fiction for young adults and older readers. Her first novel, A World Between Us (2012), which tells the story of International Brigaders in the Spanish Civil War, won a Highly Commended Branford Boase award and was longlisted for a number of major children’s fiction prizes. A Polish pilot bails out over Kent in 1940 in That Burning Summer (2013), a book that addresses combat fatigue, spy fever and pacifism during the Battle of Britain. Lydia’s third novel, Liberty’s Fire (2015), is set during the Paris Commune of 1871, and was written with the help of Arts Council funding. After an early career as a BBC World Service radio producer, Lydia turned from the spoken to the written word. In 2003 she completed a PhD at Birkbeck exploring the changing status of Timbuktu in the early nineteenth century European cultural imagination, examining relationships between poetry and the emerging discipline of geography. This was followed by the publication of Doctor of Love: Dr James Graham and his celestial bed (2008), a biography of an Enlightenment medical entrepreneur and fertility guru. Lydia’s journalism and reviews have appeared in publications such as frieze, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the TLS, the Jewish Quarterly and BBC History. She is a visiting lecturer at City University, mentors emerging writers on a one-to-one basis and is active in CWISL, a London-based group that supports writing for and by children. She lives in South London with her partner and their four children.
Courtauld Institute of Art 2015-17