March 24th, 2021
WHY THE OLD SAXON?
My father used to tell a story, probably apocryphal, about the Second World War when he served as a stretcher bearer in the RAMC. A friendly American soldier approached him,
“Hi buddy! Where are you from?”
Father, touched to the quick: “No, pal, Little Old England!”
So, what has this to do with my latest novel – John the Old Saxon?
Well, ‘old’ does not refer to John’s age although for the ninth/tenth century he lived to a ripe old age. No, it refers to Old Saxony, which term King Alfred’s contemporaries used to refer to the German Saxony to distinguish it from ‘New Saxony’, that is, Wessex. Middle-aged when he arrived in England, John, therefore, was an Old Saxon.
In the dark past, some figures like Alfred shine brightly, thanks also to available documentation such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, for which that king was responsible. Yet, he was surrounded by figures who move around him like shades seen through the almost impenetrable shroud of Time. One of these was the undoubtedly influential scholarly figure of John the Old Saxon. Such is his obscurity (or self-effacement?) that even his identity and actual burial site is subject to discussion among historians.
As a historical novelist I have enjoyed the privilege of using my imagination to fill some gaps in our knowledge. Hopefully, there is a significant amount of truth in my efforts. I hope to bring to life John the Old Saxon for my readers.
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