Old Elean, Harry Sidebottom, is a best-selling author and Lecturer in Ancient History: https://www.harrysidebottom.co.uk/

“I joined King’s Ely when I was eight at the start of Junior School and left Senior School eight years later, after my O Levels in July 1975.

“After King’s, I read Ancient History and Archaeology at Lancaster University, then studied Classical Literature for my MA by thesis at Manchester University, before doing a DPhil thesis in Literae Humaniores at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

“Having completed my doctorate, I taught at various Universities (Liverpool, Reading, Warwick and Royal Holloway, London), before returning to teach at Oxford. At Oxford I have held Fellowships and Lectureships at various Colleges. For the last eighteen years I have been Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College.


“In 2008, I published my first novel, Fire in the East, which (much to the surprise of even the publisher Penguin) reached No. 4 in The Sunday Times bestsellers chart. Eleven other novels have followed. My next novel, The Burning Road, will be published in 2021 by Bonnier Zaffre. So far all my fiction has been set in the world of ancient Rome. The Burning Road pitches Ballista, the hero of my Warrior of Rome series, into the chaos of a slave revolt on the island of Sicily.

“My favourite subjects at King’s were History and English. Perhaps I should say Classics, which was taught by Mr Taylor. A few years ago I discovered that Mr Taylor was the father of my slightly older friend, the novelist Andrew Taylor (also an Old Elean). Andrew described his father`s teaching as “methodical” – this was years before the introduction of the engaging Cambridge Latin course – but the Latin he somehow drummed into me (Amo, amas, amat…) has proved invaluable in my career.

“My fondest memories of King’s are playing rugby and rifle shooting in the pre-Ely Scheme Cadets. But the most important thing was the friends I made. Moving back to East Anglia nine years ago, several friends still lived locally, and made it easy to fit back into life in the stables of Newmarket and under the huge and wonderful skies of the Fens.

“King’s gave me a sound academic schooling, a love of sport, and lifelong friends. It was a very different school then. While I was there, Headmaster Ward began the process of change that has led to it becoming the happy and welcoming modern school it is now. I am very glad that both my sons have had a chance to be educated at King’s.”

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