The Story of Britain
Patrick Dillon

The Story of Britain

No one has filled the gap left by H E Marshall’s Our Island Story. Young people’s appetite for history is demonstrated by the success of the Horrible Histories, Lady Grace Mysteries, and Flavia Gemina. The reprint of HE Marshall has entered bestseller lists. But no one has yet produced the single-volume classic to replace it, a modern narrative history which enthralls young readers and satisfies their parents.

Stories grip young people. Through stories they retain not only historical detail, but an overall sense of historical progression. Stories give them characters they can associate with different eras, and points of view through which they can imagine what it would really have been like to live through the plague or the blitz. And British History is the greatest treasure chest of stories we have. From the Norman Conquest to the discovery of DNA, from Henry VIII to highwaymen, slavers to soldiers, history offers tales to excite young readers and to ask them questions, to frighten them and to make them laugh.

Numerous single volume histories of Britain have been produced. But while many have been bought for children, few have been written for them and none have presented narrative history with the quality of story-telling and writing which young readers have come to expect. Our Story will immerse readers in Court and slum, take them backstage at the Globe and into Isaac Newton’s rooms in Cambridge. It will tell stories – some linked, some stand-alone – both of poor and rich, Kings and street-children.

Pitched at 10-15 year-olds, it will not only hand down the ‘stories our fathers told’. It will drag young readers into a past which has dark as well as light aspects, a past in which they can imagine what their own reactions would have been, face the dilemmas that challenged their ancestors and relive all the triumphs and shadows, the hopes and fears of British History.

Children read many different kinds of books. History offers many different kinds of experience. A single template applied to fifteen hundred years soon becomes wearisome, whether it results in relentless patriotic fervour, or relentless punning humour. The tales in Our Story will be neither pompous nor patronizing. They will both make young people laugh, and thrill them with the excitement of cavalry charge or air-raid. They will take young readers vividly back into the past and make them realize that history is not only something that takes place in schools – it really happened.

Book Details:

  • Author: Patrick Dillon
  • Published Year: 2010
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Walker Books
    • US: Candlewick

Patrick Dillon

PATRICK DILLON was born in London in 1962. Awarded a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, he instead studied architecture in London, and qualified as an architect in 1987. His two crime novels, Truth and Lies, were published by Penguin in 1996 and 1997.In 2002 he combined long-standing interests in history and London with his acclaimed study of the Eighteenth-Century Gin Craze, The Much-Lamented Death of Madam Geneva, published by Headline. Based on lengthy research into original archives, court records and newspapers, Madam Geneva painted a vivid picture of crime, politics and social...
More about Patrick Dillon

Book Reviews

  • "What a delight: a book combining the very best of old-fashioned values with the highest qualities of modern writing, illustration, design and production. The text brings things up to the final years of the last century whilst the artwork is a timeless joy. The artistic lynch-pin of high quality information books for young readers is simplification without compromisng accuracy and in both the words and the pictures The Story of Britain is a prime example."
    The School Librarian
  • "A beautifully produced yet serious and authoritive, history of the British Isles…"
    The Bookseller
  • "I like The Story of Britain. very much – it’s a breath of fresh air in format and content, and very readable, entertaining and informative. "
    Miles Taylor, Director of the Institute for Historical Research
  • "  For years people have been complaining that there is no up to date equivalent to Our Island Story...Patrick Dillon has answered this need admirably with The Story of Britain. It is a straightforward and vivid account, well produced, and with pleasantly traditional illustrations by P.J. Lynch and deserves a place in any child’s bookcase."
    The Spectator
  • "When so many children like their history Horrible, it’s brave to produce a book like this, full of good, straightforward storytelling, classic, Ladybird-like illustrations and clear timelines. Patrick Dillon, a grown-up historian and father of two, starts with the Norman Conquest and goes all the way to the birth of the internet, 9/11 and global warming. He breaks his narrative into five-minutes-before-lights-out chunks, with a red ribbon to mark your place. His tone is wise and comradely, without being condescending, and his imagination and obvious delight in his subject are hard to resist. This is not just a parent’s view: my daughter, “not a brainiac”, loved it."
    Intelligent Life:
  • "  History’s place in the curriculum is once again being debated. This highly readable, chronological narrative is easy to dip in and out of or to power through in big gulps. Patrick Dillon highlights the important moments in “our island story” from the Battle of Hastings to the present day, with a penultimate chapter on immigration, identified as the beginning of a new era.  "
    The Guardian
  • "  A more straightforward and chronological view of history can be gained from a book aimed at children but equally invaluable to those who have forgotten their history lessons, Patrick Dillon's STORY OF BRITAIN (Walker Books £18.99) tells it like it was from 1066 onwards."
    The Resident
  • "A beautifully produced book with wonderful illustrations … it really does cover everything … a brilliant present … and very good for adults who’ve been short-changed in their history education as well!"
    Iain Dale, LBC Radio Book Club
  • "  All children love history if it is introduced to them in an interesting way … the tone is chatty and light enough not to intimidate. Events and people are introduced in short accessible chunks … a really useful book."
    Daily Mail
  • "...an amusing, informative, fact-packed and fun-filled book…Patrick Dillon has delivered the Holy Grail: a full history of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales that’s well balanced and suitable for children of all ages…"
    Schoolhouse
  • "Brilliant history, beautifully written for children - Our Island Story for the twenty-first century."
    Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth