King's England launches new poetry imprint "to woo" its readers.

13 Feb 2018

Independent publisher The King’s England Press today announced the launch of a new poetry imprint, The Staring Owl, aimed at bringing together all its poetry titles into one unified list.

"This is an idea which has been coming for quite some time,” said Steve Rudd, owner and founder of the business. "We began life in 1989 essentially as a publisher of local history and topography, reprinting Arthur Mee’s old county guide books, and other historical works on churches, railways, and folklore. We still do all these things, but since 1997, for the last 21 years, we’ve also had a thriving children’s poetry list under the Potty Poets imprint, and now we feel the time has come to do the same with the poetry list for grown-ups.

"It is a particularly appropriate time to do this, as our list for this spring includes three new books of poetry aimed at adult readers,We Are Not All Blessed With A Hat-Shaped Head, the eagerly anticipated new collection from Hull poet Matt Nicholson, Fifty, Grey, In Shades, the first poetry collection from top-selling children’s author Gez Walsh to be aimed at a grown-up audience, and The Maze, the first collection from poet and musician Tony Chapman. Each of these will be in our standard paperback poetry book format, and will retail at £7.95. Gradually, as existing poetry titles in our backlist are reprinted, they, too, will appear under the Staring Owl imprint.”

Asked about the origin of the phrase, Rudd added, "It’s noweirder than the titles of many other poetry magazines, and it doesn’t have theautomatic association with local history which The King’s England holds. We’veactually used the title before for a single anthology of work by all our poets,and it’s also the name of our poetry blog on Facebook. It’s actually from the "Winter”speech in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost, and I won a prize for reciting it inthe second year of high school at the tender age of 12. It’s stayed with meever since. You can never have too many owls!”


Further information available from

The King’s England Press 01484 663790

Steve Rudd 07941 887141 or

Bibliographic details of the first three books under theStaring Owl imprint:

We Are Not All BlessedWith A Hat-Shaped Head by Matt Nicholson

(2018) paperback, 9 inches x 6 inches £7.95, ISBN 978 1909548 81 7

Fifty, Grey, In Shadesby Gez Walsh

(2018) paperback, 9inches x 6 inches £7.95, ISBN 978 1 909548 64 0

The Maze by TonyChapman

(2018) paperback, 9 inches x 6 inches £7.95, ISBN 978 1909548 77 0


4 Oct 2016
OWL HELPS HUMMINGBIRDS The terrible refugee crisis which has been gripping Europe, North Africa, and the near and middle East since the escalation of the dreadful conflict in Syria has met with many differing responses. Perhaps some of the most heartening of these have been the reaction of ordinary people who have basically buckled down and done what they can to alleviate people’s suffering. In October 2015, two women in the towns of Buxton and Glossop, Pam Lake and Jo Gregory, founded The Hummingbird Project, and began collecting aid for refugees and sending it out to various camps and"hotspots”, helped by an army of volunteers along the way. In their first yearthey raised over £15,000 and now the organisation has its own combined shop and drop-off point, in the High Peak town of Buxton.

In June 2016 the murder of MP Jo Cox produced a wave of horror and revulsion across the UK – among the many people watching the newsthat day was Huddersfield publisher, and occasional poet, Steve Rudd.

"To be honest, Jo Cox’s particular work on the refugee crisis hadn’t figured particularly on my radar,” said Steve, "although I vaguely knew of it, of course. When it became obvious to me that someone might have targeted her specifically because of that work, I felt the need to do something, to make some gesture, however feeble, to counteract that. I had been toying with the idea of doing an anthology of all of the poets we have published, for a long while, and I was also aware, through friendships on social media, of the work of the Hummingbird Group, and in that moment a little light bulb came on over my head and I thought, why not make the anthology something that would benefit the work done by The Hummingbird Project with the refugees?”

Steve contacted the Hummingbird Project, who were in favour of the idea, and then got in touch with all the other poetry authors in the King’s England Press’s list. To their credit, they said yes to a man, and woman! And thus, the idea of The Staring Owl was born.

The Staring Owl, which appears from The King’s England Press this week (national Poetry Day is on Thursday 6th October) is a collection featuring, along with Rudd’s own work, the poetry of Philippa Crundwell (Ocado prize-winner, 2013) Joel Duncan, Vicky Foster, Matt Nicholson, J. D. Taylor, Deborah Tyler-Bennett (former MacDiarmid poetry prize winner) and Gez Walsh, the man who single-handedly invented Potty Poetry for children and then went on to become a children’s novelist, a writer of young adult fiction,and a storyteller, stand-up raconteur, and radio presenter. (The volume’s title is part of a quotation from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost and is already the title of the Press’s poetry blog page onFacebook).

Because thecontributors have all agreed to the use of their material for free in this collection, and waived all financial recompense, this means we can donate to the Hummingbird Project the entirety of the difference between what it costs to print the book and what we can sell it for. This is likely to be around £3.00 per copy although the precise amount depends on the size of a print run.

Pam Lake, of the Hummingbird Project, said…."We are delighted that the Kings England Press is supporting our work with this anthology using the power of poetry to raise funds and awareness of our work. We are very grateful.”

Gez Walsh, a man who knows something about poetry, having sold just over half a million copiesof his best-selling poetry book for children in the last two decades, said:

"Lest we forget, we are all collectively one species, human, The dictionary description of 'Humanity' is – ‘The quality of being humane; benevolence,brotherly love, fellow feeling, kindness, consideration, understanding, sympathy, tolerance, goodness, leniency, mercy, pity, tenderness, generosity, charity.’ The refugees fleeing war and conflict may find it difficult to believe in the above description. This book, the people involved with this book and the people who buy this book, however, all say that one small gesture of humanity performed by many can restore hope for those that have suffered at the hands of the inhumane.”

W H Auden oncefamously said that poetry "makes nothing happen”, directly contradicting Shelley, who claimed that poets were "the unacknowledged legislators of mankind”. As creative artists, people who write poetry are perhaps not always best placed to deal with the practicalities of rattling a collecting tin, or loading an aid lorry. However, what they can do is raise money by writing entertaining and thought-provoking poetry, so if you want to celebrate the power of poetry, and make a difference, look no further!






4 Oct 2016

This Thursday, NATIONAL POETRY DAY, sees the official launch of a major new poetry series from The King’s England Press, focusing on poets and their poetry about Hull, Britain’s third largest port, best-kept secret, and CITY OF CULTURE for2017.

The first three titles to appear are THERE AND BACK TO SEE HOW FAR IT IS by Matt Nicholson, CHANGING TIDESby Vicky Foster,and FISH TOWN: A LOVE SONG by Steve Rudd.

Hull is often described as a "poetical” city, simply because of its long association with Philip Larkin. Yet 300 years earlier, Andrew Marvell, no less, was already writing that he "by the tide of Humber, would complain”. Subsequent poetry luminaries in the post-Larkin era have included Douglas Dunn, with his acute observations of life in the city. Plus those who left the city of their birthto become famous elsewhere, such as Stevie Smith.

So,clearly there is something about Hull, or just the experience of being from the city, that proves inspirational. Something in the water, maybe, or something in that peculiar semi-detached status of a major city stretching out along an estuary, miles from anywhere else.

Onething is for certain. For every Larkin, Marvell or Douglas Dunn that might represent the tip of the poetry iceberg, there are another 9/10 below the surface, reading, writing, publishing, interpreting the experience of being inHull, from Hull, and writing about Hull with every bit as much cultural significance as the Liverpool Poets did about their city, in The MerseySound and other anthologies.

These arethe "Hull” poets whose work makes up the Humber Sound series. People such as Matt Nicholson and Vicky Foster.

Matt Nicholson was born in the year of decimalization, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, in the shadow of the city of Hull. He remained in Yorkshire for the best part of his first nine years before moving south with his family, in search of a promised land. While down south, he completed his education, worked for a living, fell in love and got married, and then, in 2013, he brought his wife and all their worldly possessions back to the East Riding. And, if you ask him on a good day, he will tell you that he is both pleased and proud to be home, in Hull, and that he had only been There and Back to See How Far it is.

Matt Abbott, the poet whose work was recently featured in the Nationwide Building Society’s TV advertising campaign, said of Matt Nicholson:

"At times, these are bare, naked, bloodshot beat ballads. At other times they carry the lyrical realism of D. H. Lawrence. But the constant is Nicholson’s voice: visceral, poignant, unapologetic and demanding of your time. An outstanding début collection from one of the best new voices on the scene. This won’t feel out of place on my bookshelf.”

Vicky Foster has lived all her life in Hull, a city where the rivers can still stop the traffic, where waters can overrun the streets and where festivals and nights out are held on piers and marinas. Living there, she has developed a great love for her city, but also the realisation that there are some things you can never control and that often the best thing to do is learn to ride the tides. Like the water, poetry has always been there for Vicky – but at the ageof 18 she decided to put down her pen and go and find something to write about. In her unique poetic voice, Vicky shares with us vivid images of the many changes which life has washed up, in the years between then and now. Changing Tides is her first collection of poems.

Ralph Dartford, from A Firm of Poets has said of Vicky’s work:

Vicky Foster’s poems are steeped in the right kind of nostalgia. Not the sentimental or sickly kind, but the kind that assaults the senses with beauty and poise. Whether standing astride the North Sea, or wandering the Wolds looking for your lost heart, these words matter.

Steve Rudd,publisher at the King’s England Press, said:

"Although people tend to think of us as publishers of reprints of historical guidebooks, which is what we started life doing, twenty-five years ago, we have in fact been publishing children’s poetry since 1997 and our best selling title in that series has sold over half a million copies. We published our first book of poetry for grown ups in 1998, J. D. Taylor’s A PassingThrough Place, which has never been out of print since, so it’s not as if we are some sort of one-trick pony. J. D. Taylor was born in Hessle, by the way!”

Both Matt Nicholson and Vicky Foster have a number of events and readings lined up throughout October and on into this autumn, in preparation for Hull’s year as City of Culture in 2017. Details are published on the King’s England Facebook page and at




10 Jun 2016


An Essex author’s first novel is already exciting attention on social media. Widurok, by Clare Osborne, is aimed at older children, young adults, and anyone, really, who enjoys a good read! Although it deals with historical themes, at least in part, it also examines more abstract ideas such as the nature of time.

When George and Millie go to stay with their Grandad in the quiet rural village of Wybrook, neither of them is prepared for the adventure of mystery, myth and peril they are about to be plunged into.

On the night of the midsummer solstice, George sets out, without permission, to look for his Grandad’s pocket-watch which he had carelessly lost earlier in the day, but he never returns.

Three years later, George is still missing without trace,the police have given up, and it is left to his sister alone to work out what has happened to him. Surely no-one can just disappear!

Millie’s search reveals that this is not the first time that someone has gone missing on the solstice. Some people may know more about the mystery than they are willing to tell. The secrets she uncovers hark back tothe Dark Ages and the long-forgotten Kingdom of the East Saxons - hinting at something more unbelievable than anyone could have imagined…

The book will be published (fittingly enough, given its subject matter) on the midsummer solstice, 21st June

Author Clare Osborne, said

I love reading and finding out about history and events that actually happened. I have always felt that there are so many fascinating untold stories about our ancestors, that I became compelled to write about, and bring back to life, a snippet of a forgotten time. I chose to write about the Kingdomof the East Saxons not just because it was local to me, but because of the enthralling mysticism and legends of the Dark Ages and the huge change the culture was going through as it became influencedby Roman papacy. I wanted to share this history in the form of an adventure story and transport the reader on a journey back through time, to the world as it once was.

Steve Rudd, publisher at the King’s England Press said

We receive hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts every year and I normally approach the task of reading them with a heavy heart. Not so with Widurok. As soon as I opened it and began to read, I did so with a sense of mounting excitement, similar to an archaeologist who sees a sudden gleam of something gold at the bottom of his trench. If I had to "place” the book, its literary antecedents are maybe The Eagle of the Ninth and An Enemy at Green Knowe, but that does not mean it is in any way derivative – it is written with a fresh new voice and an intelligent, thoughtful grasp of the concepts, coupled with a sound knowledgeof the historical aspects, including footnotes! If you liked either of the books I mentioned, you will definitely like this, but don’t let anything stop you reading it, whatever your preferences, because I’m sure it will become a classic in its own right.”

MICE THAT ROARED - Max Miller Review

6 Jan 2016

MICE THAT ROARED – Just reviewed in the journal of the Max Miller Appreciation Society

"A sequel to Turned Out Nice Again, also published by The King’s England Press and reviewed in TNBA in 2013, in which Deborah introduced us to a group of characters in the East Midlands in the heyday of musical comedy. Alf and Shirl, Vi, Cooper & Bean ("the boys most likely to”) Beryl and Grandwem.

Time has now moved on and the war is over, and many things will never be the same, including the world of variety. Some older music hall performers have seen better days and Cooper & Bean have to decide if they want to take their act to television.

Back in the East Midlands, Grandwem continues her domination of the local environs, as everyone tried to come to terms with post-war daily life.

The scene also shifts to Brighton in the 1950s and 60s, seedy and dangerous the days of the teddy boys and the razor gangs. Ted becomes the smallest Teddy Boy in the town and comes into contact with some heavy people, including the terrifying scar-faced Vimo Fielding, the Don of Burgess Hill.

Although our Maxie is not in the story, he does get a few mentions, including Courtney singing under his breath, Mary From The Dairy, and George, thinking about a girl dancing with scarlet fans, saying "Like Max Miller, you’d think he’s said something reet mucky, but turns out he hinted at it, and you filled in the rest.”

If you followed the lives of Grandwem and her family in Turned Out Nice Again, you’ll want toknow how their lives evolved … we look forward to welcoming Deborah to a future MMAS social evening for a reading … "

Deborah Tyler-Bennett review from VARIOUS ARTISTS

6 Jan 2016

Deborah Tyler-Bennett is one of the outstanding female voices working in the British Small Presses at this time and her latest collection will only consolidate her already glowing reputation. Puckish, wrily humorous, eclectic and with a deeply feminist perspective, Deborah's work picks up and uses allusions like a veritable literary magpie. From the Swinging Blue Jeans to Dad's Army, and many other highlights from popular arts and music, Deborah's frame of reference is marvellous, colourful and full of
the variousness of a true multi culture connoisseur. The verse is full of surprising and intriguing verbal dexterity and wordplay, and has a magician-like brilliance for bon mots and discoveries. I really cannot recommend this inspirational book highly enough.

Tony Lewis-Jones 9.11.2015