• Austin Hernon - The Author

Author profile – Austin Hernon

Being born into the chaos of a world war, it was no surprise when that culture led me towards a life in the military.

The world seemed weary of itself in the 1940s and 1950’s and nothing much seemed to happen. School went by without any significant interchange of ideas.

I looked forward to wandering about at lunchtime, staring over the wall of Swan Hunter’s shipyard, trying to spot my grandfather, and watching the ferries skittering across the waters of Tyne to Hebburn, and generally accepting the idea that school was only somewhere convenient to be during the day.

It felt a waste of time, and the local priest seemed to have more influence over teaching than the headmaster, so I left maths-poor and catechism-rich, ready to face a world not yet ready to face itself.

Things brightened up at this point. No qualifications (that would come some years later with an HNC in Business Studies, as would the BSc in Social Sciences), just the joy of freedom; until the idea of earning a living was mentioned.

With no alternatives on the horizon I became apprenticed to my father in a butcher’s shop – not a recommendation I would make to anyone.

My greatest happiness during this period was firstly joining the Sea Cadets, and when old enough, the Royal Marines Reserve. I was allocated to the SBS and became a diver/canoeist/parachutist, and I was taught other skills too obscure to mention, and discovered the adult world through different eyes. A bigger collection of rogues and nutcases you would be hard pressed to find ever gathered in one place – except on the set of some Hollywood ‘B’ movie.

In the Special Boat Service we paddled canoes, made parachute jumps and drained many a coastal hostelry dry. We dived with primitive oxygen equipment then invaded more waterside pubs, and blew things up; we crossed moor and mountain to blow things up – and drank loads of beer in remote and overwhelmed public houses. Four years of paid-for fun. Until I became a petrol-head and I left the marines to join the regular army.

I had been racing moto-cross bikes at the time, liked nuts and bolts and oily smells, and so thought that my  career should take a different path. I found employment as a army recovery mechanic, with diving skills – that was good, excellent in fact, but it’s another story.

Twenty-three years later, and after many adventures, the question of what to do next came up once more when I found myself on the cusp of civilian life. It was easier this time and I entered the world of civilian logistics, first with BT and then the Post Office Group.

Ten years after that came another retirement and another freedom. Time to write, and here we are.

After leaving school my first foray into the adult world was the Sea Cadets.

HMS Northumbria was my first ship, we went to sea in her, and as we exited the piers of the river Tyne, I looked back to see the yellow fug lying in the Tyne valley, I lived in this. It was the result of industrial Tyneside being powered by coal, and was always accompanied, day and night by the rattle of riveting guns, the flash of welding torches, and the clash of steel colliding as the work of shipbuilding went on unabated. How my lungs survived that I’ll never know.

My first job brought my first wage packet, £7 for the week, and my first motor bike. A Douglas Dragonfly – smooth.

Then we moved up a gear, the Royal Marine Reserve. I was too titchy to be a Commando, so they offloaded me into the Special Boat Section, my gain.

Checkout the talent.

More later.

Why did Austin Hernon write Robert the Wayward Prince’s story?

I was stationed in the Outer Hebrides for two years and could see the lingering devastation caused by the Highland Clearances; I wanted to understand where the root cause lay.

The trail led back through the Highland lairds and clan chieftains to the Normans. It was there that the obsession with land and power began. It was certainly the justification for throwing people off the land to be replaced by cattle and sheep; the response by the landowners to any public protest being, ‘It’s legal.’

Of course it was, they controlled the legal system and set the laws.

Along the way I came across Robert, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. Curious, I set out to discover why he had never become Robert I, King of England – and therein lies the story of The Wayward Prince.

I trust that you will enjoy the tale of what is, by any standards, a remarkable life.

Why did Austin Hernon write the Women Who Saved England?

It’s a story which needs telling – Another discovery from out of nowhere. I heard a radio programme about the farm system at Laxton, in Nottinghamshire, it is the last remaining example of a Saxon ‘strip farm,’ in England, managed by a manorial court, and administered by a bailiff.

I visited it and discovered that it has the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle, so I carried out some more research. It was then that I discovered that it had been in the hands of a female during the 12/13th century. It was a bigger surprise to find out that as well as being the castellan, (constable) of Laxton castle she was also the, ‘Keeper of the King’s forests,’ in Nottinghamshire and part of Derbyshire.

During that first visit to Laxton I noticed that the towers of Lincoln cathedral were visible from the castle motte, so I carried out some more research and found out that the Castle of Lincoln, during the same period, was also held by a woman. In addition to, castellan of Lincoln castle, this female held other appointments; Sheriff of Lincoln, and Keeper of the King’s forests in Lincolnshire.

None of this was known to me, so let me introduce two remarkable women operating in a male dominated world.

Matilda of Laxton, and Nicholaa of Lincoln, this is your story. Step forth brave ladies and be known.