About me…

Mathew was born in North West London. He studied English Language and Literature at Leeds University, where he also went on to take an MA in Renaissance Literature.

His most recent book, The Favourite, the first book-length exploration of the love affair between Walter Ralegh and Elizabeth I, was published by Constable. He is currently working on a book about the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Mathew’s previous books include Impossible Journeys, a collection of travellers tales about journeys to places that did not exist, which was compared by The Guardian to a ‘non-fiction Calvino’, and There and Back Again, about the influence on Tolkien of English landscape and mythology.

Mathew has written or reviewed for a wide range of publications, including History Today, the Financial Times, the Times Literary Supplement, BBC History, The Stage, The Author, Literary Review, The Quietus, Renaissance Studies, All About History, Spectator, New Statesman, New Humanist, and The Chap. He has been profiled in The Yorkshire Post and The Herald in Scotland.

His media appearances include Sky News, ITN, CBC, BBC Radio London (Robert Elms), LBC (Sandi Toksvig), and a wide range of regional radio stations including BBC Radio Wiltshire, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Radio Oxford, BBC Radio Jersey, BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Radio Manchester (GMR).

He has spoken at the London Book Fair, Words on the Water, Chiswick Book Festival, Sharjah International Book Fair, Essex University, Bath Spa University, and numerous local history, library and book-shop events.

He also performed in the Dolphin’s Back production of Marlowe’s Massacre At Paris at the Rose Playhouse, as well as at the History Show-Off stand-up evening and at Wunderkammer, hosted by the Do Not Adjust Your Stage improv group.

18 thoughts on “About me…

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  1. I can not believe that Twyford Abbey is still lying idle in such big city as London. I am one of the Alexian Brothers who lived there in 1961 and 62, when it was for the care of the elderly, and again in 1969, while awaiting my visa to go to Africa for primary health work. What an amenity, this place could be. When I was there Guinness Brewery, was across the road and had a herd of Jersey cattle in the Grounds of Twyford Abbey.

    Brother Barry

    1. Thank you for getting in touch Barry. It must have been a lovely place to live. It is indeed shocking that the building has been left to decay in the way it has. I believe the recent(ish) plans to convert it into a school have been abandoned. The brewery is long gone, although Diageo, which now owns Guinness, has its offices nearby – presumably on the same site. Best wishes, Mathew

  2. So, Sir Walter is definitely being remembered in the 400th year. But not everywhere. My US contact at the University of North Carolina has tried in vain to get the Mayor of Raleigh NC interested. No response. He even feels that the city does not know why it is so named.

    1. Hi Rachel.

      Thank you – that’s lovely to hear.

      I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your question, excellent though it is. It may not be specifically recorded, but ‘ll try to find out for you!

      Best wishes


      1. That would be brilliant; thank you again! I am starting a play-writing project (you may start to guess what – or who – it is about) and once it is in some sort of vague draft, I would love it if you could check it for accuracy. If you would rather not, please say and I’ll track down a history bod at Winchester Uni. Credit would be given of course!



      2. Hi again Rachel
        Looking in Anna Beer’s biography of Bess, it seems unclear where she was during W’s trial. AB speculates that she may have based herself either with her brother Arthur at Mile End, or with her uncle at Beddington in Surrey. You can read the lack of evidence either way (especially for dramatic purposes) but I think it more likely that she did not attend the trial.
        Apologies if this isn’t very helpful.
        Kind regards

  3. Hello: writing from Budleigh Salterton, where Millais worked on his Boyhood of Ralegh painting, I’m just wondering what events are being planned anywhere in the world to mark the 400th anniversary next year of Sir Walter’s death. Yet another biography?

      1. Many thanks Mathew. Please let me have your email address. My Raleigh/Ralegh project is turning out to be an extended networking exercise to stir thoughts at East Budleigh Parish Council, Sherborne Castle, the Middle Temple, HMS Raleigh, Raleigh International, the Tower of London, Elizabeth Castle,Tate Britain etc etc. I have a letter which I am about to send out on behalf of Fairlynch Museum and it would be good to include your name in a list of people that we have consulted. Best wishes, Michael

  4. Very happy to have found your site. I am from Virginia where we studied Sir Walter Raleigh in early education as you can imagine. Had no idea there was a love affair with Elizabeth I, will be searching for your book soon! (Didn’t get THAT lesson in elementary school…)

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