Roy and Lesley Adkins

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Roy and Lesley Adkins are writers and archaeologists. They are Members of the Institute for Archaeologists and Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London. They have both written several books.

Based in south-west England, near Exeter in Devon, they devote much of their time to writing books. Their very first book was A Thesaurus of British Archaeology, better known by its paperback title of The Handbook of British Archaeology. Since this first book (which has recently been updated and expanded), they have written several other books on archaeological and historical themes, from detailed reference books to popular non-fiction. The latter includes The Keys of Egypt, an account of Champollion's successful deciphering of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. They have also pursued individual writing projects – Lesley wrote Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon, and Roy wrote Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle ( US title Nelson's Trafalgar).

Their last but one book was Jack Tar: Life in Nelson's Navy, which is published in paperback as Jack Tar: The extraordinary lives of ordinary seamen in Nelson's navy.[1]

Their latest book is Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England, which is published in the US as Jane Austen's England.


Roy was brought up and educated in Maidenhead in Berkshire then at University College, Cardiff, gaining a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in Archaeology whilst spending vacations on digs mainly at the Roman town of Usk in south Wales. After graduating, he worked as a field archaeologist in Milton Keynes, then worked on the major excavation of a prehistoric settlement and Roman villa site at Beddington near Croydon with Lesley.

Lesley was brought up and educated in Havant, Hampshire, then at the University of Bristol, gaining a degree in Archaeology, Ancient History and Latin, and later a Master of Philosophy from the University of Surrey. After graduating she worked as an assistant archaeologist on excavations in Milton Keynes before meeting Roy and moving to South London.

They both worked as field archaeologists for the Museum of London, before becoming freelance archaeological consultants in Somerset. They also became involved in the editing, copy-editing and indexing of archaeology and history books, as well as writing their own books. After 2000 they moved to Devon and began to write full-time.


Reception and Reviews[edit]

"Roy and Lesley Adkins possess that rare knack among historians: merging the academic with the narrative and providing a riveting read which also casts light where it is dark."(Navy News, November 2008)

Popular Culture[edit]

Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle made an appearance at Christmas in the comedy programme 'The Peep Show' (series 7 episode 5), when Mark (played by David Mitchell) receives a copy of the book as a present from his flatmate Jeremy (played by Robert Webb). 'I heard you talking about it', comments Jeremy, to which Mark replies 'That's just tremendously thoughtful Jeremy'.


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