Julia was born in Woodbridge Suffolk in 1954 and spent much of her childhood on board Peter Duck on the River Deben and elsewhere. She read Arthur Ransome's adventure stories as she lay in the quarterberth that had originally been designated as an area where he might store his typewriter. Like many female Ransome fans she could never quite make up her mind whether she wanted to be capable, swashbuckling Captain Nancy Blackett or sensitive, imaginative Able-seaman Titty.
She was however perfectly certain that she wanted to be the heroine of every pony book ever written and so was delighted when her parents moved to the family farm in Essex and she was allowed to own a particularly slow and stubborn wall-eyed pony on whom she dreamed about jumping five barred gates and returning home smothered in red rosettes.
The pony dream proved resilient. It lasted until she had married a farmer, acquired a succession of speedier and more co-operative horses and ridden in a point-to -point race. Meanwhile she had read English at Bristol University - specialising in Old and Middle English, as appropriate to someone who had grown up so near the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo. When babies began displacing the horses, Julia realised that books were the common factor in all her enthusiasms. She opened a bookshop in the Essex village of Ingatestone and spent many happy hours with her children reading their way through the profits.
Bookselling developed into small scale local publishing and Julia discovered that Margery Allingham, who she admired hugely as a detective novelist, had also lived in Essex and written The Oaken Heart an autobiographical account of the early years of the Second World War. Julia re-issued this under her own imprint in1988. This was the beginning of a close friendship with Margery's sister Joyce Allingham who was still living in the village of Tolleshunt D'Arcy in Essex. Joyce gave Julia complete freedom to rummage through the Allingham family papers as she researched Margery's life for the biography published in 1991. Then, as Joyce realised she was hearning the end of her own life, she gave Julia all her father, Herbert Allingham's papers.
Julia meanwhile had met Francis and added two more children to her collection. She began working part time as a OFSTED lay inspector and increasingly full-time as a community organiser for the the WEA. This was absorbingly interesting but lacked the direct contact with books that is the focal point of Julia's life. After Joyce Allingham died in 2001, Julia used her legacy to study the mass of papers that are the record of Herbert Allingham's working life. Allingham was a fiction-writer and by the time Julia had finally dotted the last footnote in her PhD thesis Family Fictions in 2006 she realised that that was what she too wanted to be. Not a writer of melodramatic sagas but a writer of adventure stories, like those Swallows and Amazons tales she had read on Peter Duck so long ago. The Adventures of Margery Allingham has been republished, followed by new editions of Philip Allingham's Cheapjack and Margery's The Oaken Heart. Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory, her account of Herbert Allingham's working life is scheduled for publication in 2012. Best of all was the publication of The Salt-Stanied Bookin June 2011, followed in November by volume Two, A Ravelled Flag.
Meanwhile five grandchildren have somehow appeared on the scene ...