The Robert Stephenson Trust promotes the greatest engineer of the nineteenth century with the aim of making today's generation aware of his work and humanity to insire a new generation of engineers through his achievements.

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A short biography of Robert Stephenson can be seen here

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Mr Stephenson’s Regret by David Williams

I should immediately declare my vested interest in the historical content of this novel. As a Trustee of the Robert Stephenson Trust and a member of the Panel for Historical Engineering Works I am committed to the continued recognition of the great engineers of the past.


In welcoming the publication of this book I was prepared to give some latitude in the accuracy of its historic content if a little disappointed to see the Author’s note that made reference to Samuel Smile’s biography of the Stephenson’s which is somewhat discredited  by modern historians. However my initial reaction was swiftly countered by David Williams’ further reference to the Hunter Davis biography even if I also would have liked to see references to the recent publications, The Eminent Engineer, (Bailey), Prodigy (Haworth), and Railway Engineer (Addyman/Haworth).  


The narrative follows two intertwined timeline threads, one commencing with the funeral of George Stephenson and ending with the opening of the High Level Bridge across the River Tyne. The other thread commences with the childhood memories of Robert Stephenson and ends with the opening of the Liverpool Manchester Railway.


Weaving these threads together the author tells a story of the sometimes complex relationship between father and son, their family and wider associates. Robert’s Colombian adventure is vividly portrayed as is his confrontation with George Hudson, the Railway King. But there is much, much more to this book which follows the interaction between many nineteenth century personalities.


As for the historical accuracy? Well it’s certainly within my degree of latitude, indeed it is meticulously researched, adding colour and depth to many events portrayed in the history books.


David Williams’ novel could open the genius of the Stephensons to a new audience and foster a wider appreciation of the great achievements of the nineteenth century.    


As for what Mr Stephenson’s regret is I’m afraid you will have to read the book and make your own mind up what it is. I found the novel most enjoyable.  


ISBN: 978-1907954207
Publisher: Wild Wolf Publishing
Format: Trade Paperback and E-Book
Retail Price: £9.99 / £3.99

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

David Williams has reported progress on his historical novel Mr Stephenson's Regret which is to be published by Wild Wolf in the Spring.  On his web site he says "Final preparations like this are by turns interesting, tedious and worrisome as one labours to ensure the book is ship-shape and ready for the voyage, for there's no turning back after the launch. There are quite a few tasks involved.

Between the covers and the story

As well as the blank flyleaves you might find at either end of a book, there is the title page and often some printed matter, which the publisher prosaically calls front matter and back matter. In preparing for publication, the author will usually have some part to play in what goes on these printed pages. Some books include a foreword, preface or introduction from the author. In this case I have written a short note reminding the reader that Mr Stephenson's Regret is a novel not a history, and explaining in a paragraph how I've dealt with the question of historical accuracy. I've also included in my short introduction a few acknowledgements, and ended the note with a dedication. As my contribution to the back matter, I have updated my profile as Wild Wolf like to include a little biographical information about the author inside the back cover.

The covers

Peter Fussey is the Wild Wolf artist who was responsible for the outstanding cover of my first novel 11:59 and it's Peter who has been given the task again for Mr Stephenson's Regret. Peter is more accustomed to the thriller and horror genres which are Wild Wolf's stock in trade, but I'm confident he will come up with another excellent cover for my work of historical/literary fiction. My job is to brief him properly. I think our challenge is to get the subject across effectively without making the book look either like a history or a work of romantic historical fiction. I've sent him a few suggestions and one fairly detailed brief for my preferred option which focuses on the young Robert and his new wife Fanny, with the iconic Rocket engine in the background. I'm looking forward to seeing what Peter can come up with.

For the back cover I have written a 'blurb' that I hope will attract the interest of the browsing book-buyer. One of the difficulties of a first edition is that before publication there are normally no reviews to quote from. In this case, however, we have an excellent pre-publication review from the influential Publisher's Weekly. An extract from the review is going on the back cover under the blurb. For your interest, this is what it says:

"This richly detailed and meticulously researched storyline breathes life and a palpable sense of intimacy into these historical figures and immerses readers in an England embroiled in political and social upheaval as it teeters on the cusp of the industrial revolution."





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