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Windows on Russia and Eastern Europe

Graduates tell their stories of life, work and survival

edited by Phil Davis

Introduction by Richard Owen

 Where does a knowledge of Russian and Slavonic Languages lead you? Our authors all gained degrees in Russian and/or Slavonic Studies at the same university – Nottingham – but their careers and experiences are typical of linguists from a wide variety of backgrounds.

 Jonathan Bastable was detained by the feared KGB, but found his interrogators ludicrously ignorant of the lands they imagined were their sworn enemies. Will Stamper joined the army, participated in the handover of the Soviet-supported eastern Germany to the Federal Republic; he later – as did several other contributors – went into business and traded with the new Russia. Marion Bates, a forensic psychologist, exchanged expertise on serial homicide with a Moscow murder squad. Rod Thornton served a hair-raising term in the UN force in Sarajevo and had to grit his teeth as the Prime Minister of the day repeatedly assured Parliament there were no British troops there.

 Rachel Farmer taught in schools and colleges, earned a doctorate on modern Russian literature and became friends with the main subject of her thesis; she also sold Grimsby fish to Russia and now travels on business all over the former Soviet Union. Many of the contributors were spied on by fellow students when studying in the USSR, but still made firm friends as well as enemies among them. John Butler found spiritual solace in the Russian Orthodox Church. John Culley, Keith Watkinson, Daniel Kearvell, Daniel Vowles, Vanessa Pupavac, Colin Davison, Hannah Collins, Terry Sandell all recount tales of adventure, friendship, danger, political negotiation and intriguing  human contact.

The above gives only a hint of the variety and richness of experience revealed in the book, which cannot fail to captivate the reader. Journalists, business people, a diplomat, soldiers, scholars, teachers, professionals of all sorts, and human beings seeking illumination combine in this book to portray a part of the world in ways that academic ‘area studies’ do not always achieve.

In his Introduction Richard Owen writes: 

The key to entering [the] world [of Russia and Eastern Europe] is language. My experience in forty years of journalism is that business leaders, politicians, cultural figures all deal with you quite differently if you speak their language. You may still be an ‘outsider’ ― but you have an inside track which those without language skills can only guess at, and which (with luck) lasts a lifetime.


ISBN 978-1-900405-21-8

191 pages, paperback, illustrated

Price £10.00,  including postage (for customers purchasing direct from the publisher: £10.00  (Cheques to ‘Bramcote Press’, 81 Rayneham Road, Ilkeston DE7 8RJ, Derbyshire, UK. BACS details on request.)

All profits are to be donated to student welfare at the University of Nottingham






James Arthur Heard (1798-1875)

and the education of the poor in Russia

 by James Muckle


Among British immigrants to Russia the story of James Heard is one of the most unusual. Aged 18, with minimal knowledge of Russian and a few weeks’ training as a teacher, he travelled alone in 1817 to the Province of Gomel’, not knowing quite what he would find there. Within a very few years he had proved himself as an innovative educator, whose achievements in establishing schools for the poor had become widely known in Russia, and as a linguist of considerable ability.

            He settled in St Petersburg, where he worked tirelessly to promote the method of mutual instruction developed by Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster. He wrote the first ever good Russian primer for English-speaking learners. He published an excellent translation of Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield and an English novel, as well as numerous handbooks for learners of French, English and Russian.

            James Heard became a Russian citizen. He was associated with the construction of the St Petersburg-Moscow railway; he promoted progressive causes in education lifelong, and his descendents continue to play a distinguished part in Russian academic life.

            This tribute, written with the encouragement of the Heard family in Russia, records what is known of James’ Heard’s achievement and that of some of his descendents.



170 pp., hardback, illustrated in colour.

Bibliographies, Index


Sale price: £6.95

ISBN 978-1-900405-20-1



Some comments already received:

'A fascinating book' (Professor Simon Franklin.) 'Riveting' (Dr Patrick Miles). 'A milestone in the history of Anglo-Russian affairs' (Dr Gerald Stone)

'A splendid book, from which I got a real sense of the atmosphere in Russia in those days' (Professor Brian Murphy),

and from Professor Alexander Heard, the great-great-grandson of James Arthur Heard:

'I read your magnificent book at one sitting. (My wife was enraptured by the book too.) The epigraphs, illustrations and portraits are very good... the classified bibliographies and the Index are beautifully done. Format and binding quite excellent.'


Readers interested in James Heard may also be interested in Sarah Biller (nee Kilham), who collaborated with Heard in St Petersburg. A biography of Mrs Biller has been published: Sarah Biller of St Petersburg, a Sheffield teacher in 19th century Russia, by John Dunstan, York: Sessions, 2009. This is not a Bramcote publication, but we shall be happy to forward enquiries to Dr Dunstan.



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