James Essinger - Go to Home Page
Writer, Editor, Literary Agent and Public Relations Consultant

About me

I was born in Leicester in 1957 and educated at Wyggeston Boys' School, a grammar school in Leicester.

I always wanted to be a writer.

Even when I was only (I think) seven or eight years old, I remember writing a little essay about myself and my plans for the future. I included with the essay a drawing I had done of myself walking up to a red pillar box and posting an envelope. In the essay I wrote that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up and that the great thing about being a writer was that you could live wherever you wanted to as long as you were near a pillar box so you could post your work. This prediction, which I must have made in around 1964 or 1965, accurately foretold my professional life today, given that I usually of course tend to send my work to publishers by email. (Though of course there are times when I do post it which makes the prediction true!)

In the late 1980s, and throughout the 1990s, I spent much of my time writing business and management books and also working for my public relations clients. I still occasionally get involved with business books today, but usually only as a ghost-writer or as an editor collaborating with an expert in some area of business.

In April 2001 I moved house to my current address just outside the city wall in Canterbury. The house has plenty of office space, and I work from home. In my new house, I devoted myself to writing more ambitious types of books and also to running my public relations consultancy, which not long before I moved house had been renamed Da Vinci Public Relations. I had always written fiction in my spare time but was now determined to try to produce some good novels. I also planned to write some mass-market non-fiction books.

My first mass market 'trade' i.e. book trade work was Jacquard's Web, how a hand loom led to the birth of the information age published by Oxford University Press. It was named by The Economist magazine one of the best five popular science books of 2004. The paperback was published in March 2007.

My second mass-market book, Spellbound: the improbable story of English spelling, was published in May 2006 by Robson Books. The Times Educational Supplement described it as being 'full of treasures' and added that it 'deserves as wide and devoted a readership as Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves - indeed it deserves far more.' This book was also published on May 1 2007 in the US by Random House under the title Spellbound: the surprising origins and astonishing secrets of English spelling.

The first novel I have had accepted for publication is a book I ghost-wrote and a confidentiality agreement does not allow me to publicise it on a website or anywhere else. However, I am able to mention details of the book privately.

As I mentioned on the home page, my latest non-fiction book is about Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace.

As well as being involved with books, I also run Da Vinci Public Relations. I very much enjoy winning publicity for clients.

I find writing deeply fulfilling, exciting, emotionally engaging and endlessly interesting. It’s hard work because one has to be at one’s very best if possible to do justice to what the writing can be. I think everyone today has to be careful to not be swamped by the amount of content that our culture produces and directs at one through a variety of means and particularly of course via the internet. I want to add some real quality content to the world of information.

I am very conscious that I really am only doing what I most want to do when I’m not composing or reading emails, but actually doing writing. I try to create this separation by often working at a computer in a downstairs office in my home, which is not my main computer for receiving emails. I think focus and concentration are essential for writers, especially writers like me who work across a variety of genres.

But although I love writing, I think life and people are more important. Words are servants of life, not vice versa.