07/03/2018
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Interview with History Scotland's new reviews editor, Dr Katy Jack

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Katy talks to us about her new role on History Scotland magazine, and some of her favourite history reads.

In each issue of History Scotland magazine we bring together a selection of in-depth reviews of the latest history and archaeology books. Our reviews are edited by Dr Katy Jack, who talks to us about her new role.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and what you're most looking forward to in this role?

I was born in Fife but spent my formative years living in Saudi Arabia, returning to the UK on a permanent basis when I was 15. I finished my secondary education at a boarding school in Cumbria, before enrolling at the University of Stirling as an undergraduate in 2007. I’ve always been passionate about Scotland’s history, and I carried that with me as I journeyed toward a career in academia, graduating in November 2017 with a PhD in medieval Scottish history. My doctoral research focused on the medieval earldom of Mar, and the earls and countesses that shaped its history between 1300 and 1500.

I’m delighted to be joining the team here at History Scotland, and the role of reviews editor provides a number of exciting opportunities. For me, though, the most exciting is the chance to engage with the public by finding and promoting the newest ideas that are shaping the field today.

What history books have inspired you over the years?

There have been so many, but it was historical fiction that really fired my imagination and showed me how important it was to share the stories of important historical figures. The one book that I always go back to is Philippa Gregory’s The Constant Princess. It follows the life of Katherine of Aragon, introducing the reader to her early life and the difficult decisions she had to make as she came of age. I’d always loved the Tudor period, but Gregory’s masterful depiction of the young queen’s struggles made me appreciate how many other figures in history have similar stories that need to be told.

And what's your favourite Scottish history book and why?

I’ve had the privilege of delving into so many incredible history books over the years - I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite! However, I do have a ‘Core Four’. These are books that I thumb through almost daily as I formulate new ideas; they’ve provided the foundations on which I’ve built so much of my work and I have no doubt that I will continue to use them for many years to come.

  1. Michael Penman, Robert I
  2. Michael Penman, David II
  3. Steve Boardman, The Early Stewart Kings: Robert II and Robert III, 1371-1406
  4. Steve Boardman and Alasdair Ross (eds.), The Exercise of Power in Medieval Scotland, c.1200-1500

Are there any forthcoming books you're looking forward to seeing in print?

One book I’m particularly looking forward to seeing in print is The Irish-Scottish World in the Middle Ages, by Seán Duffy, David Ditchburn and Peter Crooks (eds.). It’s due to be released in October 2018, and it promises to provide a fascinating insight into links between Ireland and Scotland in the Middle Ages. This is something I have always wanted to explore further, and I’m excited to learn more about how the history of each region has been influenced by the other.  

Read Katy’s book reviews in each issue of History Scotland magazine.

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