|Born||22 September 1967|
Petts Wood, London Borough of Bromley, England
|Alma mater||University of Exeter, University College London|
|Genre||history, historiography, historical fiction|
Ian James Forrester Mortimer, FSA, FRHistS (born 22 September 1967) is a British historian and writer of historical fiction. He is best known for his book The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, which became a Sunday Times bestseller in paperback in 2010.
Mortimer was born in Petts Wood, and was educated at Eastbourne College, the University of Exeter (BA, PhD, DLitt) and University College London (MA). Between 1993 and 2003 he worked for several major research institutions, including the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, the University of Exeter and the University of Reading. His first publications were poems, published in various literary magazines. In 2000 his work '31 December 1999' was awarded the University of Exeter's prize for a 'poem for the Millennium', open to all present and past students of the university, and judged by the then poet laureate, Andrew Motion.
From 2003 to 2009 he published a sequence of biographies of medieval political leaders: first Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, then Edward III, and Henry IV, in addition to 1415, a year in the life of Henry V.
Mortimer's best known book, however, is The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, first published in the United Kingdom in 2008. It was followed by The Time Traveller's Guide to England England (which became a BBC TV series, presented by the author) and The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain. He is also well known for pioneering the argument (based on evidence such as the Fieschi Letter) that Edward II did not die in Berkeley Castle in 1327 in his first two books and an article in The English Historical Review.
Mortimer has also carried out research into the social history of early modern medicine. His essay "The Triumph of the Doctors" was awarded the 2004 Alexander Prize by the Royal Historical Society. In this essay he demonstrated that ill and injured people close to death shifted their hopes of physical salvation from an exclusively religious source of healing power (God, or Jesus Christ) to a predominantly human one (physicians and surgeons) over the period 1615-1670, and argued that this shift of outlook was among the most profound changes western society has ever experienced.
In 2011, Mortimer entered the genre of historical fiction, publishing the first book from his Elizabethan era Clarenceux Trilogy using the pen name of James Forrester. James Forrester are Mortimer's middle names. His fourth novel, The Outcasts of Time, was published under his ordinary name: it won the 2018 Winston Graham Prize for Historical Fiction.
Since 1999 he has lived in the small town of Moretonhampstead in Devon, England, which is in Dartmoor National Park. In 2003 he was appointed by the Secretary of State Member of Dartmoor National Park Authority, representing the parishes. In 2009 he was reappoited as a Member by the Secretary of State, this time representing the national interest - a role which he continued to perform until 2017. Other public appointments have included the Lord Chancellor's Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research, 2011-17 (subsequently known as the Forum on Archives and Academic Research) and the Fabric Advisory Committee of Exeter Cathedral, 2011-16.
Mortimer is the nephew of the British tennis player Angela Mortimer. He is also the first cousin three times removed of the wine merchant P. B. Burgoyne. Among his interests he includes running: in 2017 he wrote a memoir about the meaning of running, which relates the various lessons he had learnt from taking part in parkrun and half marathons - which was published as Why Running Matters: lessons in life, pain and exhilaration, from 5K to the marathon (Summersdale, 2019).