Lydia Syson writes fiction and non-fiction on historical themes for readers of all ages. Mr Peacock’s Possessions, her debut adult novel, was a Times and a Sunday Times book of the year in 2018. Her Young Adult novels explore aspects of history neglected by the school curriculum: the Spanish Civil War (A World Between Us, 2012), the 1871 Paris Commune (Liberty’s Fire, 2015) and pacifism and Polish pilots in the Battle of Britain (That Burning Summer, 2013). Lydia began her career as a BBC World Service radio producer, after receiving a double first in English from Oxford and an MA in critical theory from Southampton University. In 2003 she was awarded a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London: her thesis examined the changing status of Timbuktu in the English-speaking cultural imagination in the early nineteenth century, and the relationships between poetry, travel writing and the emerging discipline of geography. This led, rather indirectly, to a biography of a notorious Enlightenment medical entrepreneur and fertility guru: Doctor of Love – Dr James Graham and his celestial bed came out in 2008 and was reviewed in publications ranging from The Daily Record to the Journal of Medical History. Lydia’s journalism and reviews have appeared in frieze, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the TLS, the Jewish Quarterly and BBC History and other magazines. She is an active member of CWISL, a London-based group of writers and illustrators which supports writing for and by children, and holds regular story-writing festivals hosted by universities. On the Education Team at the Wallace Collection (providing on-site creative writing workshops for primary and secondary schools), she also mentors emerging adult writers on a one-to-one basis. Lydia was brought up in London and Botswana and now lives in Camberwell with her partner and their four children.
Lydia is a Consultant Fellow offering writing workshops and related activities.
Courtauld Institute of Art 2015-18