John James (writer)

David John James (30 November 1923 2 October 1993) was a Welsh author of historical novels.[1]

Life and work

James was born in Aberavon. He studied philosophy at St David's University College, Lampeter, and also read and completed an MA in psychology at Selwyn College, Cambridge.[1] He became a psychologist for the Ministry of Defence, lecturing on the selection and training of air crews for the RAF at Brampton. In addition to writing he also worked as a teacher and later for the Scientific Civil Service working on aviation problems.

He is known for writing four historical novels set in Roman and early medieval Britain and Europe. Neil Gaiman is an admirer of James, especially his novel Votan, which provided one model for American Gods, calling it “I think probably the best book ever done about the Norse”.[2] James's skilful evocation of life and myths of Dark Age Europe also won him the admiration of neo-pagan authors John and Caitlin Matthews. The British writer Byron Rogers said that whereas "other historical novelists cheat" by putting people with modern opinions and sensitivities into the past, John James "had a man from the past as his hero"; James "knew how such a man would have dressed and what he would have eaten, and, what is far more important, he knew what went on in his head".[3]

James is buried in the graveyard at Strata Florida Abbey in Wales.





  1. 1 2 James, John (1968). Not For All The Gold In Ireland. Great Britain: Cassell & Company LTD. pp. Book Jacket. ISBN 0 304 92713 9.
  2. Interview with Neil Gaiman
  3. Byron Rogers, Three Journeys, Gomer, Llandysul, 2011, p. 158.

External links

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