Mark Woodburn was born in Edinburgh, 1968, and grew up in Scotland, Canada and South Africa. His colourful employment history includes work in forestry, pet food, ladies' fashion, risk analysis and as a part-time soldier in the Royal Corps of Transport. He currently lives in West Lothian, with his wife and daughter, and is a season ticket holder at Heart of Midlothian Football Club.
Mark's first novel Winston and Me, featuring the legendary Winston Churchill circa World War One, was the first unsolicited fiction submission to be taken on by Valley Press, and was published in 2012. A sequel, The Finest Years and Me, featuring the same characters reunited in World War Two, followed in November 2015.
‘Well, my boy. The time has come.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘For the laddie from Gorgie Road to meet a President.’
It is 1942, and the war is not going well for Britain. Winston Churchill faces enemies across the world, inside his own parliament, and within his very body and soul. His former ‘batman’ Jamie Melville, having left London in 1919 to build a life of his own, has been struck with a bitter tragedy.
It takes an unexpected proposal from the Minister of Information to return Jamie to London, to stand beside his old colonel at his time of greatest need. From the murky underground corridors of Whitehall to Washington D.C. and the Oval Office itself, Jamie is at the centre of high-end decision making, intrigue, treachery and betrayal. Amidst it all, he encounters the beguiling Meredith Macaulay, who has Jamie ultimately questioning his own values.
It was redemption that originally brought this odd couple together. Now, twenty-five years later, Jamie Melville may unwittingly hold the key that will help to win the Allies victory – and deliver Winston, and Britain, to their finest hour.
Original 2012 paperback sold out. New revised edition coming November 2018.
Lying about his age to join the army, poor Edinburgh teenager Jamie Melville comes to the attention of his battalion’s new colonel, Winston Churchill, who is seeking redemption in the trenches as an ordinary soldier after his resignation over the Dardanelles fiasco in 1915. Jamie becomes the colonel’s new ‘batman’ (a.k.a. orderly) and is soon thrust into the line of fire.
Later, both are returned to civilian life, and when Winston returns to the cabinet, Jamie is offered a position as assistant to the new minister's private secretary and part time-literary agent Edward Marsh, who introduces Jamie to the artistic side of London life. Along the way Jamie falls in love with a nurse and makes contact again with his broken family, which will leave him with a difficult choice to make: stay with Winston, or leave and make a life of his own.
Mark Woodburn’s first novel is a fast-moving delight, meticulously researched, clearly a labour of love – early readers were convinced the book was a genuine memoir, and readers of the final edition may find themselves checking the small-print too.
“Woodburn offers an excellent portrayal of Churchill ... a novel not to be missed.”
— Finest Hour magazine
“An outstanding book ... Memorable, eminently readable, and thoroughly enjoyable.”
— Undiscovered Scotland
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