James Heneage

James HeneageJames Heneage has been fascinated by history from an early age, in particular the rise and fall of empires. He was the founder of the Ottakar’s chain of bookshops which, between 1987 and 2006 grew to 150 branches before being bought by Waterstones. James spent these twenty years reading and researching historical subjects before settling on the end of the Byzantine Empire as the period he wanted to write about.

After Ottakar’s, he chaired the Cheltenham Literary Festival before setting up his own festival entirely devoted to history with author James Holland. The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is now in its third year and attracts around 30,000 people to its menu of talks, debates and living history displays.

The first of his Mistra Chronicles, The Walls of Byzantium, was launched at the Festival in June 2013.


Bringing History Alive in Wiltshire Society, August 2013
Wiltshire Society published a feature on James, talking about Ottakar’s, the future of bookselling and of course, the first novel in his Mistra Chronicles series, The Walls of Byzantium. Article on page 32.

Fame and fortune, empire and ambition – Byzantium reimagined on BookBrunch, 30th May 2013
James Heneage – founder of Ottakar’s, a chain beloved of the book trade and the public – writes about embarking on a new career, as a historical novelist.

Our debt to Byzantium on WeLoveThisBook.com, 2nd July 2013
James Heneage on how ancient conflicts haven’t changed all that much

Chalke Valley History Festival 2014Epic writing on Waterstones.com, 6th July 2013
The former Ottakar’s bookshops boss, and founder of the Chalke Valley History Festival, James Heneage tells us about his latest endeavour – The Mistra Chronicles

Talking Location with author James Heneage – Peloponnese on TripFiction.com, 21st June 2017
James Heneage, author of By Blood Divided, talks to us about the wonderful PELOPONNESE.

Constantinople 1453: The greatest siege in history on HforHistory.co.uk, 18th August 2017
James Heneage on why the siege of Constantinople in 1453 was the most dramatic and consequential in history