Alumni & Supporters

Alumni Authors

Alumni Authors

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body" Joseph Addison

World Book Day

Jonathan Watts

Jona‌than David Watts, BA Hons Classical Studies (2009) and MA Classics (2012)

Jonathan Watts graduated with a Masters degree in Classics in 2012, and has since published Bury Me Where They Fall, a dark fantasy novel. You can watch the trailer here.

"My first novel Bury Me Where They Fall has been out for about four months now and is receiving a very strong national and international response, which is amazing and very flattering.

"It marries the tight, military story structure and surreal mood of Apocalypse Now with elements inspired by ancient folklore and mythology, including Greek and Norse. My time studying at Newcastle gave me an excellent starting point for this setting.

"Bury Me Where They Fall tells the story of Amiel – a soldier who disobeys her orders. As punishment, she is sent on a suicide mission into an uncharted forest. Events begin to mirror a myth she knows from her youth, but in a darker and more violent way. What begins as merely a mission becomes a fight for her life, faith and sanity.

"Reading has always been hugely important to me. World Book Day to me means both relaxing with old favourites – such as David Gemmell in my case, and also pushing your boundaries by reading outside your comfort zone. I am doing this right now, reading in depth about cults as research for my second novel, which will be a sequel to Bury Me Where They Fall." - Jonathan Watts, alumnus.

WBD Prof Sally Brown

Professor Sally Brown, BA Hons English and Philosophy (1971), PG Cert (1972), MA English and American Literature (1991) 

Professor Sally Brown is an Independent Consultant in Learning, Teaching and Assessment and Emerita Professor at Leeds Beckett University where she was, until 2010, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She is also Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University, and formerly at the Universities of Plymouth, Robert Gordon, South Wales and Liverpool John Moores, and at Australian universities: James Cook, Central Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast.

She holds Honorary Doctorates from the universities of Plymouth, Kingston, Bournemouth, Edinburgh Napier and Lincoln.

Sally is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Senior Fellow and a National Teaching Fellow.

“Having written/co-written, edited and co-edited in my academic career 35 books on aspects of teaching, learning and particularly assessment, and nowadays still contributing chapters and prefaces to other’s books, World Book Day is hugely important to me. Nowadays much of my pro bono work is supporting others in writing and particularly helping colleagues undertake PhDs by publication.

"On another front, I am a proud supporter of my grand children’s school, Benton Dene Primary School in North Tyneside. Each year I normally dress up as Professor McGonagall, (but wearing a real professor’s Doctoral hat rather than a witch’s hat!) to read and tell stories to children in years 1 to 4, many of these stories especially composed for the school.” - Professor Sally Brown, alumna.

WBD Tristan Gooley

Tristan Gooley, BA Hons History and Politics (1996)

Tristan Gooley is an author and natural navigator.

Tristan set up his natural navigation school in 2008 and is the author of the award-winning and international bestselling books, The Natural Navigator (2010), The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues & Signs (2014), How to Read Water (2016) and Wild Signs and Star Paths (2018), some of the world’s only books covering natural navigation.

“Every outdoor-lover should have at least one Tristan Gooley book in their library.” - Jim Perrin, rock climber and travel writer. 

After decades spent hunting for clues and signs in nature, he regularly gets called the 'Sherlock Holmes of nature'.

He has written for the Sunday Times, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

"World Book Day is a shot across the bow of those pernicious videos, they think they can rob us of our reading joy. They think wrong!" - Tristan Gooley, alumnus. 

WBD Giles

Dr Giles Dawnay, BA Hons English Literature (2004)

Giles graduated in English Literature in 2004 before working and travelling for four years. He then went to Bristol Medical School and qualified as a Doctor in 2014. He is now GP training in Hereford. He regularly writes poetry and recently wrote his first novel The Rising of the Son.

The Rising of the Son is an adventure story of a father and son who travel to Peru to climb in the mountains together. However, on the trip disaster strikes and the son has to leave his father to find help and save both their lives.

This coming of age book attempts to deal with themes of: the father-son dynamic, what it means to be a man, life in a developing country, women’s rights, being an outsider, the problematic way in how we are perceived by others, what is personal truth and what does it ultimately mean to be successful.

"World Book Day is so valuable. Books are what allow us as humans to begin to experience and learn about the world in ways that might not be possible in our own life time. Each human being will lead such a different life to another, books enrich our capacity to discover this." - Giles Dawnay, alumnus. 

You can read more about Giles here.

WBD CM Angus
Chris Angus, PhD Computing Science (1998)

CM Angus has recently published his novel Overstrike: Volume I of his Fixpoint Trilogy. The Sci-Fi Thriller, published by Elsewhen Press, has been described as a hugely ambitious and complex story, all the while keeping everything grounded in recognisable England with very real characters.

“Overstrike is a unique story about many things, including: time travel, time manipulation, alternate reality, family bonds, fate, morality and our own sense of self. A recent review said 'it’s very good and different – It’s a bit out there'. This is exactly what I was going for.

"For me, every day is a book day, but World Book Day is hugely important. I believe the past is a dream that doesn’t define us – each of us has the capacity to continually reinvent ourselves and books are an integral part of that journey.

"As I often say, knowledge is just a book away.” - Chris Angus, alumnus.

Chris now lives in Huddersfield, and when not writing, works as an e-Commerce Architect for a global electronics distributor. Being passionate about all things technical and creative, he also writes about technology and has previously published non-fiction with O’Reilly books.

Say hi to Chris when he launches the paperback at Concentric 2020 the British National Science Fiction Convention.

WBD Helen Docherty Graduation

Helen Docherty, BA Hons French and Spanish (1995) 

Helen Docherty graduated from Newcastle University in 1995 with a first-class joint honours degree in French and Spanish. She now lives in Swansea and is an internationally published picture book author. Helen worked for many years as a language teacher in Mexico City and in Bristol before becoming an author. Her work, which includes the award-winning picture books The Snatchabook and The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight, has been translated into 25 languages. Helen’s books have been read on CBeebies Bedtime Stories and staged as plays and as a children’s opera, by a school in Canada.

Like other authors, Helen is always busy in World Book Week, visiting schools to perform her stories and deliver workshops. 

“World Book Day is a fantastic way of celebrating reading and books, in all their wonderful diversity. There are currently so many demands on teachers, reading for pleasure can get squeezed out of the school timetable – when it should be central to the primary curriculum. If we can give all children a love of stories from an early age, they are much more likely to become readers themselves.” - Helen Docherty, alumna. 

You can learn more about Helen and her work here.

 ‌WBD Will Hamilton Davies

Will Hamilton Davies, BA Hons Journalism Media and Cultural Studies (2019) 

Will Hamilton Davies graduated with a Bachelor's degree from Newcastle University in 2019 and has since pursued his affection for story-telling. He recently achieved his Kickstarter goal and his first book, The Shrew with the Flu is due to be published in May 2020, whilst the audiobook is due to be released in the next month. The Shrew with the Flu is a story about self-discovery and respecting Mother Nature, told through a mouse-like mammal's experience with the flu. 

"As one of six siblings - three of which have only just outgrown picture books - it seemed inevitable that my passion for storytelling would someday take the form of a children's storybook. I've always admired authors for their ability to take big, scarily complex subjects and break them down into digestible yet compelling narratives. By the time I discovered my love for the addition of rhythm and rhyme as well, I was already hooked on the cathartic nature of writing (it was fate - I had to become an author, or a poet...or both!). I intend to spend the foreseeable future reading and writing children's stories, hanging-out with my siblings and optimising my lifestyle for the benefit of the environment.

"World Book Day is about celebrating the power of books; not casting a spotlight on bestselling or celebrity authors, but instead the universal and timeless treasure that is storytelling." - Will Hamilton Davies, alumnus.

WBD Tony Glover

Tony Glover, BA Hons General Arts, English, History and Politics (1974)

"It starts with a book.

"I’ve been a reader and made up stories since I was a child. I studied at Newcastle University (1971-74) - a wonderful time. Those years deepened my love for literature. I wanted to write but had to earn my living so taught in a prison - teaching literature to violent young offenders. There I saw first hand the power of stories. The inmates who coped were the ones who could escape into a book.

"I went to film school. My film, Posh Monkeys, about a Newcastle taxi driver won a Royal Television Society Award and was promoted by the British Council. A radio play, Just A Trim, won the BBC North Playwright of the Year Award and a Sony Award. I taught film at Sunderland University and script at Northumbria University.

"These days I write crime thrillers and have signed with a new publisher, Cheshire Cat, sponsors of Newcastle Noir. My Kitty Lockwood series is published by Cheshire Cat: Shadow Passenger, followed by The Luxury of Murder, Footsteps of the Hunter and the book on which I’m working, Bone Chiller Blues. World Book Day is a fantastic event. In these dark days to know that children all over the World are learning to love books is a wonderful thought." - Tony Glover, alumnus.  

Burhana Islam

Burhana Islam, BA Hons English Literature (2013), PGCE Secondary English (2014)

Born in Bangladesh, raised in Newcastle, and currently residing in the outskirts of Manchester, Burhana Islam is a storyteller who is passionate about exploring themes of heritage, belonging, identity and faith in both her children's and YA works. She studied English Literature at Newcastle University before deciding to become a secondary school teacher, sharing her love for stories with a new generation of curious, young minds. After five years of teaching in Newcastle and winning a mentorship with Penguin Random House, one of the UK’s biggest publishers, Burhana relocated to Manchester and used her Society of Author’s grant to support her writing. After a short hiatus, Burhana returned to teaching, and is continuously reminded of the importance of diversity and representation in children’s literature, particularly for communities like her own.  

Titled ‘Amazing Muslims Who Changed The World’, Burhana’s book celebrates the successes of Muslims all over the ages and across the globe. After being given the award-winning ‘Rebel Girls’ treatment, her collection of biographies sets out to deconstruct negative Muslim stereotypes the media has hashed out to the public today.

There are so many more amazing Muslim men and women who have changed our world, from pirate queens to athletes, to warriors and mathematicians. Who will your next hero be?

This much-needed beautifully illustrated collection aimed at youngsters aged 9 and above, but a must-read for anyone and everyone, debuts on 9th July. Making the perfect Eid gift, ‘Amazing Muslims’ includes a range of exciting activities at the back to keep children busy and occupied during these uncertain and unprecedented times. Pre-order from WaterstonesBlackwells and the likes.


This page was originally dedicated to World Book Day 2020. However, since then we've received news of many more alumni authors who have been added to our feature. If you're an alumni author and would like to be featured, please let us know by emailing