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Duncan Campbell-Smith

Author and historian


After ten years spent researching and writing institutional biographies, it seemed time in 2017 to move to the real thing – with the biography of an aero-engineer whose achievements helped to change the world in the twentieth century. JET MAN: The Making and Breaking of Frank Whittle, Genius of the Jet Revolution is scheduled for publication by Head of Zeus … once the present crisis passes.

Originally planned for September 2020, JET MAN‘s launch has inevitably been delayed by the impact of the pandemic on the sale of new books. This is a torrid time for all publishers, with editorial staffs having to leave on furlough if businesses are to survive and prosper again. Expectant authors have it easy, by comparison, and we just have to be patient. A miraculous farewell to the coronavirus within weeks might just see JET MAN out this year — but publication early in 2021 seems much more likely.

A troubling thought that recurs at odd moments: what would happen to us if the unprecedented demands being made of the global internet suddenly precipitated a cataclysmic crash? With no internet traffic, we really would be in a mess. It will be apparent that I understand nothing whatever about how it works. As long as it does, I shall keep faith in it …

Obviously this is the right time to catch up on all those bulky volumes you meant to read in the past but didn’t. So grab a copy of my history of Britain’s Royal Mail, Masters of the Post, which was published by Penguin Allen Lane in November 2011 and came out in paperback in 2012. (The latest fortunes of Royal Mail and the Post Office are both still exciting plenty of controversy, which I have just written about in a magazine article for The Spectator, How the Post Office Lost Its Way.)

Descriptions of all my books are set out on this site. One of them is Crossing Continents, my commissioned history of the Standard Chartered Bank which is still awaiting release. I hope to see the planned publication by Penguin Allen Lane confirmed for a date in 2021.

Duncan Campbell-Smith