A FAMILY connection and a fascination of the Great War inspired a Darlington author to publish his first novel.
Former Guildford Grammar teacher Chris Durrant combined stories of his uncle, who died and was buried in Africa, with his own interest in WWI to pen Under the Same Moon, A Story from the Great War.
While researching his uncle’s past, he and wife Shirley, a housemother at Guildford Grammar boarding school, dug into the history of the 46 Guildford Grammar School students and two staff who perished overseas in the conflict.
Their research led them to the visit the graves or memorials for all but two of the local heroes across Gallipoli, France, Belgium and England, and one in Geraldton.
“As a result of the research expertise acquired during our investigations into the Guildford lads, we were able to find out a lot more about my uncle,” Mr Durrant said.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the Great War and I was intrigued by the sketchy information surrounding my uncle who went to Africa in slightly mysterious circumstances and ended up fighting the Germans and dying in East Africa.
“I remember seeing old sepia photos of him and of his grave in Mozambique in my English aunt’s photo album and they’ve lingered in my mind over the years.”
Elements of his uncle’s story became the inspiration for his novel which takes places across worlds, from small English towns to battle field nursing stations.
“I was interested in weaving a story, told from different perspectives, around the ways people navigate such cataclysmic circumstances and how, ultimately, they make peace with utterly changed lives,” Mr Durrant said.
The hills writer is better known in the region as the creator and performer of comic songs and revues. He has previously written a memoir of growing up in East Africa and studying history at University of Oxford, Travelling Hopefully, and a collection of humorous essays, Guildford Musings.
The book is available in paperback and electronic form.
For local book seller locations visit www.chrisdurrant.com
By Claire Ottaviano