Mike Hollow

At the Royal Liberty School 1964-1971

Royal Liberty prefects 1970/71, Mike is second from right, middle row.

From RLS I went to Cambridge University (awarded Open Exhibition in Modern Languages by Magdalene College, 1970) and read Russian and French. While there I won a British Council scholarship to spend a year at a university in the USSR. On graduating I got a job using my Russian skills with the BBC and worked there for 16 years in various roles. I then left to work for an international development charity (Tearfund) for 11 years. As head of its creative team I travelled widely, visiting poor communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America and reporting on local development initiatives. I left in 2002 to go freelance, making a living using my accumulated skills and experience in journalism, copywriting, editing, project management, consultancy and translation. Later I began to write historical crime fiction, and the first of my 'Blitz Detective' novels, set in 1940 in West Ham (where I was born), was published in 2015. Since then writing's been my full-time occupation, and the sixth book in the series was published in 2020.

"Like many of my generation, I was the first person in the history of my family to go to university, and it was my education at the RLS that made this possible. A wide curriculum exposed me to an extensive range of subjects, enabling me to discover what I liked and was good at and what I didn't and wasn't. Key teachers opened my mind to learning, equipped me with confidence and a vital critical faculty, encouraged me to aim high and, not least, taught me to the level required to attempt that. It wasn't a perfect place, any more than I was a perfect student, but it changed my life. I'm also pleased that I'm still friends with some of my RLS classmates from more than half a century ago!"