Legend – Robin Hood Novel Out Today

 The final book in The Chronicles of Robin Hood series is out today, in paperback and as a Kindle eBook. Order it today and it’s cheaper! And a big thank you to everyone who’s bought and read my Robin Hood novels. Here’s the link…

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An action-packed finale to The Chronicles of Robin Hood.AD 1203. Plantagenet England: The mighty overlords of Sherwood Forest wage war against the poor and desperate. The Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisborne impose a vicious tyranny across the shire.

Where is Robin Hood, the leader of the outlaws and rebels? Has he abandoned the persecuted folk of the Forest?

As the darkness of winter falls across Sherwood, nobody is sure whether Robin Hood lives or not…Has the revolt against the cruel and powerful overlords been put down at last?

This retelling of the Robin Hood legend takes the tale of the famous outlaw back to its origins in medieval reality and brings the saga to a gripping and bloody conclusion. Men die in battle… but a legend is born.


Writing News

The final volume in my The Chronicles of Robin Hood series will be out as a paperback and a Kindle eBook in December. This will be the end of the series, though I’m contemplating a kind of sequel in about a year’s time.

I shall be revealing the title very soon, so keep watching.

Thriller-Gun-Dark-Ebook-CovAfter that, I’ll be writing the second book in the Sean Miller thriller series – a sequel to Balmoral Kill. The new one – set in 1937 – sees Sean battling dangerous spies on Dartmoor. It’ll be full of action, and some of the characters from the first book will reappear. There’ll also be a very tough lady spy…

Balmoral Kill’s still available, so do click on the link below if you want to order a copy.

Next year, there’ll be a new adventure for my character William Quest. Following his visit to York in Dark Shadow, he’ll be back in his more familiar London, be once more operating outside the law, and facing new dangers and new enemies. Some of the Quest crew who weren’t in the last book will be in this one.

Hopefully, there’ll be some other titles as well. Click follow and I’ll let you know.

Regard John

And here’s the link for Balmoral Kill: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Balmoral-Kill-Sean-Miller-Adventure/dp/150306333X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

A Place Called Robin Hood

We all associate Robin Hood with Sherwood Forest, but as far as place-names go the outlaw appears all over England. I was minded of this the other day as we were strolling around Richmond Castle in Yorkshire. Or Richmondshire of you prefer. There’s a ruined tower in the castle named after the old wolfshead.

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Robin Hood’s Grave, Westmorland. (c) J Bainbridge

As it happens, there’s little historical basis for the name. Popular thought decrees that romantic Victorians called it Robin Hood’s Tower.


I suspect the same happened with lots of other Robin Hood links, the names are either there through the efforts of recent romanticism and…

Then there were lots of Robin Hoods. As some of you might know I’ve spent the last couple of years writing a series of novels in which I’ve tried to root Robin in medieval reality. I’ve set my books in Sherwood Forest, though my Robin makes excursions into Westmorland, where there are lots of Robin sites, briefly Barnsdale, Fountains Abbey, Hathersage in Derbyshire.

My own belief is there was once an original Robin Hood. Who he was and where and when he lived, we shall never know. But rest assured he wasn’t the romantic outlaw of legend. But he obviously made a name for himself, for I believe that that Robin Hood became a generic name for lots of other, possibly bold, outlaws.

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Robin Hood’s Tower (c) A Bainbridge 2018

And that’s why you find the place name in so many places across the land. They were named after their local Robin – lots of successors to the original.


Walking on the Westmorland fells, we often visit Robin Hood’s Grave – its obviously a cairn of questionable age. At Fountains Abbey, there’s a Robin Hood’s Well and Wood. (I used it as a setting for my Robin Hood novel Villain). Tradition alleges – with little evidence – that the monk called Friar Tuck trained at Fountains Abbey, though as far as the old ballads go, Tuck was a late arrival. Much later in the Middle Ages, a robber-monk called Tuck appeared in reality at Lindfield in Sussex. Nothing to do with Robin Hood, though you wonder if the Sussex monk was named after an earlier legend.

You get little help from the Robin Hood ballads. Only a few are very early, the first claiming Barnsdale as Robin’s hideout, though interestingly it also has the Sheriff of Nottingham as a character. I must say that had I been a medieval outlaw I wouldn’t have chosen Barnsdale as a refuge. It was a place then of open heaths and small woods – not a very good place to hide if you are literally outside the law and anyone can ring you down.

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Fountains Abbey (c) John Bainbridge 2018

The problem is, the ballads that we have were probably written down from original oral sources, and the person writing them down localised them so that they referred to places his audience might know. So the original Robin could have come from anywhere. Just fill in the blanks as you rewrite the old verses.

But other place names – there’s a strong tradition that Little John hailed from Hathersage in Derbyshire – you can still see his purported and very massive grave. There are several other Robin Hood graves, including the famous and currently threatened one at Kirklees.

We also have Robin Hood’s Bay on the Yorkshire coast, where the outlaw saw off some pirates. There are also several Robin Hood pubs, including one in Penrith in Cumbria – though – as you are getting nearer to Carlisle you are really entering the territory of the outlaw Adam Bell, whose adventures and crew are very similar to Mr Hood’s. There’s Robin Hood’s Stride in the Peak and a lot of other Robin features across the north and Midlands. Geographically, he got about as much as King Arthur.

And, of course, there is Robin Hood International Airport – a sight that would probably have overwhelmed the original ballad writers.

So if you have another Robin Hood location do leave a comment, especially if it’s not one of the famous one.

I’m currently working on the fourth and final novel in my Robin Hood series. The first three are out in paperback and on Kindle if you fancy a read (Just click on the link below for more information). https://www.amazon.co.uk/Loxley-Chronicles-Robin-John-Bainbridge-ebook/dp/B00WMJXRUC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1538038149&sr=1-1&keywords=Loxley

Get Dark Shadow Cheaper…

Dark Shadow, the third in the William Quest adventure thriller series, is published tomorrow – in paperback and as an eBook on Kindle.

Order it before publication today and you can have it cheaper. Prices rise tomorrow…

Thank you to everyone who has already ordered the book – I very much appreciate your support and hope you enjoy Dark Shadow.

Just click on the link to order your copy today… https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-William-Victorian-Mystery-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07F15T8NX/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532509886&sr=1-2&keywords=john+bainbridge+books

Dark Shadow Cover copy

John Lardiner runs down a street in the ancient city of York and vanishes off the face of the earth.

In a dangerous race against time, Victorian adventurer William Quest is summoned to York to solve the mystery – what has happened to John Lardiner?

Forced into an uneasy alliance with the city police, William Quest finds his own life in peril.

Men who pry into the disappearance of John Lardiner end up dead.

In York’s jumble of alleys and narrow medieval streets, William Quest finds himself pursued by a sinister organisation.

Can he solve the mystery of John Lardiner’s vanishing before his enemies bring his adventurous career to an end?

George Borrow and my Books

If you’ve read any of my books, you’ll know I’m a great fan of the 19th century writer George Borrow…

Who? you might ask…

Well, I’ll tell you something about Borrow (1803-1881)- the great lost genius of Victorian writing. A man who at one time was outselling Charles Dickens, then went into a rapid decline in popularity.

The author of Lavengro and The Romany Rye is scarcely read these days, his books darting in and out of print. Yet a century ago he was an undisputed influence on a whole generation of readers, the subject of a dozen or more biographies and scores of learned essays.

The early years of the twentieth century were something of a renaissance for the “Gypsy Gentleman”.  His first moment of great fame came in 1843 with the publication of The Bible in Spain which, despite its deadly title, is a rollicking tale of adventure describing Borrow’s journeys around the Peninsula during the Carlist Wars. For a moment in time Borrow was the most famous writer in the land, his exploits praised in Parliament by the Prime Minister, and his book a bestseller. But his later fictionalised autobiographies Lavengro and The Romany Rye, failed to catch the public mood, and Borrow found his reputation eclipsed.

But later, his tales of romantic adventure on the roads of England in the days of stagecoaches, encounters with Gypsies and tinkers, and Borrow’s early struggles as a Grub Street journalist, appealed to those who sought the great outdoors as an escape from the growing blight of industrial Britain.

For much of his childhood, George led a wandering life, on the march with his father’s regiment. As a result he became a considerable walker capable of covering sixty miles a day. He was also something of a linguist, fluent in a couple of dozen languages.

Settling in Norwich he was an unwilling pupil at the Grammar School hard by Norwich Cathedral’s Erpingham Gate, staining his face with walnut juice so that he might seem more the Gypsy, and leading his fellow students into trouble. Borrow agreed to be apprenticed to the law, but spent a good deal of time roaming the countryside and studying languages. On the death of his father in 1824, he headed for London determined to secure a reputation as a writer, failed, and took to the roads, first as a relatively respectable traveller, and then as an itinerant tinker, meeting up with his Gypsy friend Jasper Petulengro and his family.

George Borrow had fallen out of favour once more by the time I discovered his writings as a teenager. But even then he was still anthologised and referred to in books by the older generation of writers about walking. I found a great delight in his work, which has remained with me to this day.

He was much influenced by Defoe, and it shows in the vividness of his writing. We should read Lavengro/The Romany Rye in the way we might read Robinson Crusoe or Moll Flanders.

So determined am I to put George Borrow back on the literary map, I’ve promoted his books in a chapter of my outdoors memoir Wayfarer’s Dole, and I often have characters reading his works in some of my own novels.Dark Shadow Cover copy

My historical mystery character, William Quest, is a Borrow fan. I’ve just written a new Quest adventure – Dark Shadow –  where Quest goes to York to solve a puzzle, taking Lavengro as his bedside read. The volume plays a slight part in the events that follow.

At one point an overwhelmed William Quest takes inspiration from Lavengro as his difficulties mount up, referring to one of his favourite Borrow quotes:

“He (Quest) reached out and picked up the volume of Lavengro by his bedside. It opened at random to a chapter which ended with the words: There are few positions, however difficult, from which dogged resolution and perseverance may not liberate you.  It was one of Quest’s favourite quotations, one he referred to often. He hoped that, on this occasion, Mr George Borrow’s philosophy was to be proved right.”

I shan’t rest until George Borrow’s eclipsed reputation is restored. So why not give him a go…?

You can find out more about him at the excellent George Borrow Society website at http://georgeborrow.org/home.html

My new Quest adventure, Dark Shadow is published in paperback and on Kindle on the 26th July. Order now for a discounted pre-publication price at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Shadow-William-Victorian-Thriller/dp/1722416890/ref=sr_1_4_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531728484&sr=1-4&keywords=john+bainbridge+books

My book Wayfarer’s Dole, which has a Borrovian chapter, is still available in paperback and as an eBook on Kindle.


Clive King: Stig of the Dump

I was sorry to hear of the death, at the age of 94 (a good innings), of the author Clive King. I remember being at school when Stig of the Dump was first published.

Everybody seemed to be reading it – it has sold 2 million copies.

A great achievement.

Thank you Clive.

The New William Quest Novel

Dark Shadow – the third novel in the William Quest thriller series is now available for pre-order as a Kindle eBook. Publication day is on the 26th July.

Dark Shadow Cover copy.jpg

The paperback will be available to order soon.

So if you enjoy eBooks do order now at the cheaper pre-publication price.

And remember, you don’t need a Kindle to read the book. You can download a free app for your smartphone or tablet when you order.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

John Lardiner runs down a street in the ancient city of York and vanishes off the face of the earth.

In a dangerous race against time, Victorian adventurer William Quest is summoned to York to solve the mystery – what has happened to John Lardiner?

Forced into an uneasy alliance with the city police, William Quest finds his own life in peril.

Men who pry into the disappearance of John Lardiner end up dead.

In York’s jumble of alleys and narrow medieval streets, William Quest finds himself pursued by a sinister organisation.

Can he solve the mystery of John Lardiner’s vanishing before his enemies bring his adventurous career to an end?

To order please click on the link here:


Robin Hood Books on Offer

I’ve been thinking a lot about Robin Hood lately, now that I’ve completed Villain, number three in my novel series The Chronicles of Robin Hood.Loxley New Cover

The final book in the sequence will be out towards the end of the year.

When you consider it, Robin Hood is quite a remarkable guy – with King Arthur one of the two essential British myths. For darned near a thousand years, the people of Britain, and then the citizens of the world, have been entertained by his exploits.

He reaches out and says something to us all to this day.

What’s the attraction?Wolfshead Cover_edited-5

Well, Robin Hood appeals perhaps to the rebel in all of us, the man who’s prepared to champion the poor and powerless against the uncaring rich and powerful. Mind you, if you read the original ballads he’s not quite so selfless.  But it doesn’t matter. People need a champion and Robin Hood’s quite a good one.Villain Cover

I think it’s interesting that you could take a medieval peasant away from his plough, transport him through time and put him down in front of a television and let him watch Robin of Sherwood say, or Richard Greene in The Adventures of Robin Hood and he’d get the point. (Assuming he wasn’t overcome by technology or changes in the English language, of course. I frequently am!

BUY ALL THREE ROBIN HOOD BOOKS ON KINDLE EBOOKS NOW AND YOU’LL GET THEM AT A REDUCED PRICE. THEY ARE ALSO AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK. JUST CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chronicles-Robin-Hood-Book/dp/B072KSTVYB/ref=sr_1_17?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1528984180&sr=1-17&keywords=John+Bainbridge


Naming Book Characters

Preparing the new William Quest novel for publication next month, I’ve been thinking about how I come up with names for characters.

It’s not always easy.

In the new Quest novel I’ve had one character who is very important to the story. I gave him a name I quite liked and was nearly at the end of the book when it dawned on me that it was terribly similar to the name of a well-known personality.

So I had to do a rapid renaming session during the revising of the manuscript.

People often ask where character names come from?

Well, from all sorts of places.

I like walking around graveyards, and they’ve provided several names over the years.

I also use family names quite a lot – and there is a sampling in several of my series.

I had ancestors with the surname Stanton. Hence Billy Stanton in my 1930s thriller Balmoral Kill, and Rosa Stanton in the Quest novels, set in the 1850s. (In moments of mad imagination, and not very seriously, I like to think that Billy is a descendant of Rosa.) William Quest himself was, in my original notes, going to be called Edward Stanton – but I didn’t think it had much of a ring to it.

William Quest has no links to anyone, though I did see a Quest on a gravestone once.

The only character who is definitely named after a real person is Josef Critzman, of the Quest novels. Josef Critzman was a real ancestor of mine. Like his namesake in the books he came to England from Poland (then a province of Russia) – probably as a political or religious refugee.

Unlike my Book’s Josef, who runs a walking stick shop and a secret society, my ancestor settled in the Black Country of the English Midlands and lived a harmless life as a glazier. I’m very proud of him. Family legend has it that he fled Poland with his brother, though I could find no trace of a sibling. So in the book I gave him a brother called Isaac, that adaptable crime lord.

Albert Sticks, the ex-prizefighter in Quest, actually began his career in Balmoral Kill, which I started and then put to one side to work on Quest. When I went back to Balmoral Kill the Sticks there became Corporal Bliss.

Jasper Feedle was never meant to exist in Quest at all. I  just wanted a villain to meet Sergeant Berry and have a walk on part of a few paragraphs. But Jasper arrived, with a complete personality, and inveigled his way into the plot, Quest’s entire back story and the Monkshood secret society.

It happens sometimes like that. Where these characters complete with names come from, heaven knows?

Wissilcraft, the Spymaster in the Quest novels, got his name from a gravestone I saw in East Anglia many years ago. I’ve never come across it in real life, though the novelist Henry Williamson has a Laura Wissilcraft in his Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight saga.

With the third Quest novel finished (it’ll be on pre-order in a couple of weeks) I’m moving on to write the final book in my tetralogy The Chronicles of Robin Hood  (do check out the first three volumes Loxley, Wolfshead and Villain).

In a way, Robin Hood is easy as far as characters go. Robin and his greenwood gang are very familiar names from the medieval ballads onwards, as are the Sheriff, Gisborne and his enemies. Trying to make the familiar characters different from previous outlaw outings is the difficult task.

Thank you again to all you readers who’ve bought and kindly commented on the novels. Do keep looking because I’m going to put some pieces about the new book on in the next few weeks.

And please do spread the word!

Not having the advertising budget of some of the major players in publishing, we very much rely on word of mouth.

The fiction and walking books are all now out in paperback and as Ebooks on Kindle.


You can see a list and details of most of the books on the following page, so please do click on the link: