About me

At the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, I worked first as production editor and book reviews editor of Chatham House’s foreign policy journal, then editor-in-chief. I worked at Chatham House for nine years. But I’ve always loved looking at paintings and architecture, and visiting the city of Istanbul in 1992, I was so impressed by the directness and simplicity of the great Ottoman mosques I saw there that I went to live in Cairo, Egypt, to study Islamic architecture.

I am a communicator, and I love to present ideas from one culture to new audiences in another.  Now that I’ve lived so long outside my native London, first in the Middle East and now in Scandinavia, I have got used to looking into a culture from the outside, then stepping inside it and looking back at my own – and juggling the two.

One of my great interests at the moment is Young Adult fiction. I work hard to get kids engaged in reading great writing and writing themselves. Another is the great novels of Henry James and of George Eliot – so humane, and penetrating so deep into what it is to be human. I just took a course on Henry James short stories at Cambridge this summer. I love stories – and collected a whole thesis worth of fabulous stories I found in the medieval chronicles of splendour and savagery, of vicious (and loyal) sultans and quarrelsome emirs in medieval Cairo.