Fiction & Drama
Working in collaboration with the composer Andrew Fisher, Ian has written a musical, Billy Bow (Ian – book and lyrics, Andrew – lyrics and music). Set in the closing years of the Napoleonic War, and inspired by a true, if tangled, tale from 1815, Billy Bow tells the story of a young black woman, Mina Standing, who disguises herself as man (‘Billy Bow’) and joins the Royal Navy to escape her murderous husband.
Thanks to funding from the Creative Campus Initiative and the University of Southampton, Billy Bow was staged as a workshop production in the Studio at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton from 6 to 8 July 2010.
The cast consisted of four remarkable professional actors, Amanda Wilkin (Billy), David Burrows (Borrow), Jon De Ville (Standing/Brady) and Stephen Fewell (Miller), with a chorus of fifteen. The chorus was composed mainly of music and performance students from the University of Southampton and Solent University. For many of them, this was their first opportunity to work with established actors, but all contributed professional-level performances in their own right.
With Andrew Fisher as Musical Director and pianist, the show was brilliantly co-directed by Russ Tunney and Tim Ford. Key organisation and support came from Sharon Lawless as producer and from other members of the Nuffield’s production team. The full company’s rehearsal period lasted for just over six days, but in this time the cast, chorus and the Nuffield team produced a show that played to enthusiastic capacity audiences every night!
Ian can only record his profound thanks to Andrew for his collaboration, his stunning score and musical direction, and to the cast, chorus and production team for making the story of Billy Bow into an extraordinary and memorable theatrical performance.
Ian and Andrew are now working to develop Billy Bow into a full-scale production. Ian is delighted to announce that, as of October 2012, his involvement in the Billy Bow project is represented by Kate Weston of the Janet Fillingham Agency, who is also Andrew Fisher’s agent.
In May 2015, Billy Bow was staged on two evenings by the wonderful Curve Young Company at the Studio in the The Curve Theatre, Leicester. Directed by Thomas Hescott, the talented cast of 40 young people undertook the first performances of the full-length show. The show was seen by over 500 people, and was sold out on the second night. Audience reaction was rapturous!
Prose & Poetry Events
Ian has devised and staged more than a dozen successful prose and poetry reading events, on themes as diverse as the sea, the Victorians and railways. He has performed in all of them – see Talks & Voices from History
The Gold of the Giants (working title)
A mystery set in 13th century York (in progress).
Text of a children’s book, devised and illustrated by Helen Friel; due for publication by Laurence King Publishing in 2017.
Tusks – a collection of strange stories (in progress).
Ian is the author of three major books on maritime history, The Good Ship (1995), The British Museum Maritime History of Britain & Ireland c 400 – 2001 (2003) and Henry V’s Navy (2015), as well as a book of local history photographs and over 20 articles, papers and booklets on maritime history, local history and education (see Publications).
Exhibition text copywriter
Writing for public exhibitions is challenging for any writer, and Ian has written the display texts for over 40 temporary and long-term exhibitions. This includes all of the text for the 1988 blockbuster exhibition Armada (apart from the words ‘Fire Exit’…).
If you think that Ian’s writing skills might be able to help with your project, please contact him.