Our Publications

G. A. Jones
The Cruise of Naromis:
August in the Baltic 1939

  • To be published 5th January 2017
  • ISBN 978-1899262335
  • 122 page paperback
  • Over 60 B&W photographs

In August 1939, five carefree Englishmen set off to the Baltic aboard a motor cruiser from the Norfolk Broads. The crew of Naromis - “Skip”, “Fattie”, Bill, Mike and “Honest George” Jones - drank beer, ogled flaxen-haired girls and caroused the streets of Cuxhaven singing “Horst Wessel” as their German companions bawled out “Land of Hope and Glory”. They also took many photographs of ships, bridges and naval yards which were later passed to Naval Intelligence.

It was the first time 21-year-old George Jones had travelled abroad, and when he returned to England on 2 September 1939 his call-up papers were already waiting. “It was as though I had been conducted through the scene of a great drama and just managed to get off the stage before the curtain went up.”

The Cruise of Naromis was found in an attic. The author, George Jones, was serving in the Second World War and stationed in Newfoundland when he found time to write up the odd little cruise that he and four others had made through the Kiel Canal to Germany in August 1939. By the time he’d completed this account and collected the photos to accompany it he was working in Freetown, Sierra Leone, even further away.

His daughter, Julia Jones, is a biographer and a writer of sailing adventure stories. She thought at first that it would make a nice pamphlet for the family at Christmas. As she researched more thoroughly, she began to see that it was something more than that. The Cruise of Naromis is the story of an ordinary young man coming of age at an extraordinary time. It’s of particular appeal to yachtsmen and also people interested in WW2 Naval history.

Claudia Myatt
Keeping a Sketchbook Diary

  • Published 18th May 2016
  • ISBN 978-1899262311
  • 48 page paperback
  • Full colour throughout

Marine artist Claudia Myatt believes a sketchbook should be “the brain’s playground”. It’s not a private area reserved for Artists but a space for anyone to have a go. “When you try and draw something,” says Claudia, “you have to look at it as if you have never seen it before.” Whether you’re drawing boats or birds, people or pottery, the world will transform into a series of fascinating shapes, patches of colour, light and dark.

This delightful selection from Claudia’s recent sketchbooks and travel diaries is also a series of mini-lessons and tips that will give you the essential confidence to make a start - and change your thinking from “I could never do that” to “I could do that”.

Jan Needle
Wild Wood

  • Published 1st May 2014
  • ISBN 978-1899262212
  • 240 page paperback
  • Line drawings by William Rushton
  • Available as an eBook

Wild Wood was one of those single ideas that hit you like a flash of lightning,” writes Jan Needle. “I was in a doss house in Dewsbury, talking about The Wind in the Willows when it occurred to me that Mr Toad and his chums from the River Bank didn’t know that they were born. Mr Toad lived in a glorious mansion from which he bought and abandoned executive toys on the merest whim. The servants who existed to service his desires were not even mentioned. They were invisible, taken for granted. They were just there. As indeed were Mr Rat’s.”

Wild Wood was first published in 1981. It was illustrated by Willie Rushton and was an immediate success. It's an alternative view of Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows and is set in 1908 when life for the rural working class (the stoats, ferrets and weasels) was hard and precarious. Wild Wood was presented as a children's book but has always been appreciated by adults who relish its humour, humanity and social understanding. The Golden Duck edition is intended to accessible to readers of any age. It has good size print and, crucially, gives plenty of space to the wonderful illustrations by the late Willie Rushton which add so much to the story. Golden Duck is grateful to Toby Rushton for making this possible.

“And so a gallant band was formed to bring about the downfall of the rich, uncaring few. They were the Wild Wood volunteers and theirs is a saga of poverty and desperation, loyalty and treachery, strange love and great despair.”

Jan Needle's richly comic re-telling of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows can be read as political satire but there's much more to enjoy. Though the wood is cold and unemployment bleak it only takes a sea rat with an accordion and a nip of Daisy Ferret's special brew to get the stoats and weasels partying.

The Strong Winds Series

Julia Jones
The Salt-Stained Book

  • Published 16th June 2011
  • ISBN 978-1899262045
  • 272 page paperback
  • B&W line illustrations by Claudia Myatt
  • Available as an eBook and audiobook

In 1945, two brothers die in the icy Barents Sea and a book is all that survives of them. More than sixty years later Donny and his mother set out for Suffolk to meet his mysterious great aunt. There is an accident and Donny is taken into care. But are the Officials all that they seem and why won’t they believe Donny’s story? Soon he discovers that his life has been built on a lie. Only the new friendships he makes and an unsuspected talent for sailing help him steer his way through dangers that he cannot understand towards a knowledge of his own identity – and the secrets of a salt-stained book.

Julia Jones
A Ravelled Flag

  • Published 24th November 2011
  • ISBN 978-1899262052
  • 304 page paperback
  • B&W line illustrations by Claudia Myatt
  • Available as an eBook

“The third flag – Anna’s resplendent dragon on its rippling black background – had been slashed to tatters … What did pirates do anyway? In real life and the twenty-first century?”

In A Ravelled Flag Donny Walker and his Allies – Anna, Xanthe, Maggi and Luke – come dangerously close to finding out. Their adventures take them to semi-derelict docklands, up the deserted and beautiful River Stour and onwards to Britain’s most easterly point. This is a winter story, dark and suspense-filled, a gripping sequel to The Salt-Stained Book.

A Ravelled Flag continues the story of Donny, the 14-year-old who has belatedly discovered his talent for sailing and his love of boats, rivers and the sea. Donny and his disabled mother, Skye, have been re-united on board Great Aunt Ellen’s Chinese junk, Strong Winds. But will the three of them be allowed to settle peacefully into family life? Not if Inspector Jake Flint and Denise “Toxic” Tune have anything to do with it. And there is a third enemy lurking in the shadows, helping Flint and Toxic twist the Care System to serve their own sinister ends? This volume takes the reader closer to understanding what modern day piracy might involve. Meanwhile Donny’s friend Anna continues her Internet search for her missing mother and discovers there is someone else on a similar quest. Should she take the risk and meet him? This second volume of the Strong Winds trilogy extends the action beyond the River Orwell as far as Lowestoft and to Manningtree on the River Stour. It’s a winter story, darker and more suspense-filled than The Salt-Stained Book, leading the reader on towards the dramatic action of Volume Three.

Julia Jones
Ghosting Home

  • Published 2nd July 2012
  • ISBN 978-1899262069
  • 272 page paperback
  • B&W line illustrations by Claudia Myatt
  • Available as an eBook

“When Donny saw which boat it was, slipping stealthily up-river in this dead hour between night and day, he crouched lower and motioned to the others to do the same. Then he lay completely flat. No precaution could be too extreme. The Hispaniola had left her mooring…”

Once the mysterious red-and-white schooner is on the move, Donny Walker and his family are in danger. Even a hasty crossing of the North Sea may not be enough to save them. Meanwhile in Fujian Province, China, a 14-year-old boy must leave the Village of Living Widows and travel to England, the Country of the Ghosts. Will he survive the storm winds of summer? Can Gold Dragon help him? The thrilling conclusion to the Strong Winds trilogy.

Julia Jones
The Lion of Sole Bay

  • Published 7th October 2013
  • ISBN 978-1899262182
  • 288 page paperback
  • B&W line illustrations by Claudia Myatt
  • Available as an eBook

“There were heavy guns in the smoke behind the lion, a flash of steel and a crack of flame. People screamed and died. It would crush him if he didn’t get away.”

Luke plans to spend the autumn half term helping his father restore an old fishing boat at the top end of Fynn Creek. Angel craves excitement: Helen longs to go home. But this is Halloween. It’s the last week of the waning moon and nothing is quite as it seems The three of them find themselves in the dark night of the North Sea threatened by violence in the present and from the past.

The Lion of Sole Bay is a modern adventure story inspired by the historical events of the Battle of Sole Bay which took place off the coast of Suffolk in 1672. It is a stand-alone title that links with the characters from the Strong Winds trilogy. It’s not a sequel to the trilogy - it’s the development of a series.

Julia Jones
Black Waters

  • Published 2nd July 2015
  • ISBN 978-1899262267
  • 296 page paperback
  • B&W line illustrations by Claudia Myatt
  • Available as an eBook

With a new dinghy, a committed sponsor and a place on the pre-Olympic training camp Xanthe Ribiero assumes that she’s set for success. Instead she finds herself disgraced and forced into hiding. She gets a job as a volunteer sailing instructor in a dead-end village on the Essex marshes. The feuding and old hatreds of the indigenous inhabitants are as muddy as their intertwining creeks and why are the children so pale and secretive? Xanthe is an outsider in Flinthammock - her landlady believes she is a witch - but hers is the clearer view that will finally reveal the truth.

Black Waters ranges from true stories of the Dunkirk evacuation to current anxieties around cyber-bullying. There are oystermen and drug barons, modern mass-produced sailing dinghies and bizarre WW1 prototypes. As with all Julia Jones’s stories the boundaries between fact and fiction are as permeable as the Essex coastline where this new volume is set. Readers young and old can be assured that the historical research has been meticulous and the creeks and rivers thoroughly explored.

Black Waters is a stand-alone title. However it can be seen as connecting particularly closely with Ghosting Home, volume 3 in the Strong Winds series. Each new book adds something more to the final denouement which will be complete in volume 7. Black Waters is a story of detection as much as adventure and the influence of Margery Allingham is as important as that of Arthur Ransome.

The Allinghams

Margery Allingham & Julia Jones
Beloved Old Age and What To Do About It:
Margery Allingham's
The Relay handed on to Julia Jones

  • Published 30th June 2016 (50th anniversary of MA's death)
  • ISBN 978-1899262298
  • 144 page paperback
  • Illustrated with B&W photographs
  • Available as an eBook

Margery Allingham was a Golden Age detective novelist, a “Queen of Crime” alongside Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers. However her last completed book The Relay was not a novel but an account of the practical and emotional ways in which she and her sister approached the end-of-life care for three elderly relatives in 1959-61. Words like “carer”, “sheltered housing”, “granny annex” were not even in the language when Margery wrote this ground-breaking little book. It was tragic that she herself died in June 1966 before it could be included in one of the first-ever UK campaigns for improvements in the care of the elderly.

The Relay has never previously been published but Julia Jones, Margery’s biographer and co-founder of the nationally successful John’s Campaign, believes that its ideas are as relevant today as when it was first conceived. Julia is a dementia carer and has interspersed reflections on her current experience with Margery’s conclusions 50 years ago. There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, many (though not all) of them old. There are hundreds of thousands of families, friends, and neighbours who are experiencing the effects of this grim disease as well as the other difficulties of age. Many, like Julia, will be asking themselves how we can care as well for our loved ones at the end of their lives as well as we try to do at the beginning. This unusual, jointly-authored book will offer new insights - and perhaps a new positivity - to all those in a caring situation.

“Whose survival,” wrote Margery, “theirs or ours?” There are many caring families who will have felt the same when taking responsibility for older relatives. Margery came to believe that the experience of looking after one’s family member in old age and illness was “as important as one’s marriage or the birth of one’s child”. Julia Jones is in a good position to test the validity of this argument as she struggles to balance caring for her 92-year-old mother with a plethora of other work and family commitments - and her longing to escape and go sailing.

Margery Allingham
The Oaken Heart:
The story of an English village at war

  • Published 3rd March 2011
  • ISBN 978-1899262038
  • 384 page paperback
  • 75 photos and line drawings

Ronald Blythe, the author of Akenfield, calls this book ‘astonishing’.  Margery Allingham was living quietly in her Essex village, writing a novel a year and coping with the extravagances of an irresponsible household. Then the war came. Suddenly the house was an Air Raid Wardens’ post and a First Aid centre and the childless Margery found herself responsible for 275 East London evacuees in a rural community of little more than 600 people. The Oaken Heart was written in the autumn of 1940, when the Battle of Britain gave way to the London Blitz. Bombs fell, even on the Essex countryside. By the time she had finished, in February 1941, her friends and family had gone away to fight and only her ‘insane optimism’ helped her to believe that they would ever return.

This new edition is published in association with the Margery Allingham Society. It contains previously unpublished diaries and letters, as well as contributions from ‘sweet Auburn’, the village of Tolleshunt D’Arcy. Allingham was an acute social commentator who had been trained to observe since childhood. “I must always be watching and noting and putting things into communicable form.”

The Oaken Heart was written during the “noisy, bomb-filled winter” of 1940-41 and published almost as soon as it was received in May 1941. Margery Allingham was living in the village of Tolleshunt D’Arcy in Essex. She recorded the events and emotions of that extraordinary time exactly as she and her neighbours experienced them. In so doing she believed she was writing for hundreds of small rural communities up and down the country. People now in their eighties were children then. Some of them remember Allingham and have contributed to this book.

The Oaken Heart was hugely successful on first publication. “She speaks for England” said her U.S. publisher. Since 1941 however, the very immediacy and urgency of Allingham’s writing has proved an obstacle for later generations. Our frame of reference is very different from the period of the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz. This edition is extensively illustrated with period photographs and has been fully annotated. Local contributions have been invaluable.

Philip Allingham
Cheapjack

  • Published 1st March 2010
  • ISBN 978-1899262021
  • 328 page paperback
  • 38 B&W illustrations

“I foresaw all sorts of opposition from my parents if they should discover what I was about to do, so I decided to steal out of London as quickly and as quietly as possible…”

The year is 1927. Philip Allingham, aged 21, stares out of an office window near Piccadilly Circus, musing on life’s futility. He has tried his hand at pretty well every job his parents would consider respectable, and failed at every one of them. He is bored and broke. “Suddenly it dawned on me – and the relief at the discovery was extraordinary – that there was nothing at all to prevent me from earning my living reading the future in other people’s hands.”

So begins the career recounted by Allingham in this thrillingly vivid and richly comic memoir. Or, rather, the series of careers, as the subtitle reveals: ‘Being the True History of a Young Man’s Adventures as a Fortune-Teller, Grafter, Knocker-Worker, and Mounted Pitcher on the Market-Places and Fairgrounds of a Modern but still Romantic England.’ Billed by its original publishers as “an astonishing autobiography of an English gentleman turned county fair mountebank”, Cheapjack was an instant best-seller when it first appeared, in 1934, but has long been unobtainable. This reprint includes a new introduction by Francis Wheen and an afterword by Julia Jones, biographer of Philip’s sister, the great crime novelist Margery Allingham, whose involvement with Cheapjack was kept secret.

Julia Jones
The Adventures of Margery Allingham

  • Published 2nd March 2009
  • ISBN 978-1899262014
  • 464 page paperback
  • 65 photographs and line drawings
  • Available as an eBook

A visiting friend once said to Margery Allingham: "My dear Marge, although you write crime novels, you do have a dainty drawing room!" "What did she expect?" Margery wondered. "Did she think I would keep a corpse under my sofa?"

The Adventures of Margery Allingham was researched in the very room where she worked, and was written with the full co-operation of Margery's sister, her secretary and her housekeeper. Margery insisted that the events of her life provided the raw material for her fiction. This biography offers insights into the creative process as well as a portrait of the age through which she lived. It was first published in 1991 as Margery Allingham: A Biography and was very well reviewed but remained available only as a hardback. This republication as a paperback and eBook contains new material and some new illustrations. The new material that has become available includes a revelationary collection of letters and the startling truth about her husband's relationship with the writer and lesbian icon Nancy Spain. Was there a corpse underneath the sofa? The book's new title, introduction and afterword invite the reader to look again.

Julia Jones
Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory:
The working life of Herbert Allingham

  • Published 19th September 2012
  • ISBN 978-1899262076
  • 390 page paperback
  • 38 illustrations
  • Available as an eBook

Herbert Allingham was one of “the men who wrote for the Million”. His melodramatic serial stories ran week after week in the halfpenny papers a hundred years ago. From his first published work in 1886 until his death in 1936 he entertained hundreds of thousands of working-class readers, bringing colour and excitement into hard precarious lives. But was he an author? He didn't think so. Nothing he wrote was ever published in book form and, while the proprietors of the flimsy mass-market magazines made fortunes, their writers remained uncelebrated.

This biography seeks to change that. Herbert Allingham's daughters, detective novelist Margery and her sister Joyce, were proud of their father. They kept boxfuls of his stories, diaries, account books and letters from editors. Julia Jones inherited this unique archive. She has used it to investigate the conditions of Allingham's working life and to glimpse some of his readers. Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory evokes the thrill of weekly fiction in the Great Age of Print.

Herbert Allingham was just one of the writers, artists and editors whose work filled the pages of the story papers that were so popular then and are almost non-existent now. The pennies and halfpennies which were paid by millions of ordinary people for these papers funded the newspaper publishing empires that dominated the twentieth century. This is the story of a hard-working, profoundly likeable writer and stands as a memorial to many other common writers whose hours of labour brightened their readers’ lives.