Giles Milburn: What I’m Looking For

Actively looking for: anything historical, be it literary, commercial, crime, series, non fiction or all of the above. A strong, inescapable sense of place and time; ordinary people in epic times; reimaginings and retellings; stark but striking prose; books with series potential; literary and unique books; exploration of identity and progress

In addition to my role as Managing Director at the agency, I am looking to develop a small list of historical fiction and non-fiction, as well as books with strong series potential.

A huge fan of books that not only present a strong and unique character, I also love to be caught up in the atmosphere and mood of time and place. This is not easy to do, and those writers that achieve it are indeed masters of their craft.

I have recently finished the latest of Toby Clements’ wonderful Kingmaker series, which through stark prose and thorough research brings the tragedy, confusion and vulnerability of ordinary people caught up in the enormous events of the Wars of the Roses vividly to life. In his book Days Without End, Sebastian Barry carries the reader on a bed of lyrical language into the heart of a young, uncertain and violent America, battling to find its identity, as is the wonderfully eloquent narrator. Beautifully evocative and knowledgeable, I would love to find similar books that present historical detail and events through a prism of good old-fashioned storytelling.

Room, by Emma Donoghue, is another truly unique and utterly mesmerising book.  Again, the language is clever and the voice totally convincing. And what a brave subject. I am looking for similar fiction; work that challenges the reader, and sometimes takes them beyond their comfort zone.

As the old cliché goes, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction, and if the story is interesting enough then I would be keen to hear about it. I thoroughly enjoyed Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre, and his account of one the most extraordinary characters to emerge from the Second World War. Any other narrative non-fiction that never ceases to amaze is also warmly welcomed.


Some of my favourite works of historical fiction and non-fiction:

Winter Pilgrims by Toby Clements

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Wolf Hall By Hilary Mantell

London: The Autobiography by Peter Ackroyd

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

The Cicero trilogy by Robert Harris

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Restoration by Rose Tremain

The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg

To Kill A King by Charles Spencer

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton