Humanities - The history adventure

11th November 2011 at 00:00
The past as a voyage of discovery

"You probably always imagined that history was something that was finished . done . in the past. Not at all. History is always evolving: it's a complex, ever-changing structure."

The beautifully mysterious Topaz St Honore whispers this phrase to Jake Djones to explain why the History Keepers Secret Service is so vital to the safety of the world as we know it. She explains that history is a "living" geographical place that you can reach by ship and that the History Keepers are engaged in an endless crusade to stop dark forces from changing it for the worse.

From a young age I have been fascinated by history: by its epic sweep, by its colour and darkness, by its incredible characters, its many heroes and villains. I have also always loved adventure stories. It was both of these passions - for history and for adventure - that inspired me to write The History Keepers.

Having lived on the South Bank in London for a decade, opposite St Paul's and next to the Globe Theatre, I felt sometimes that I could touch the past; imagine Shakespeare or Christopher Wren breathing the same air. Then, one rainy day three years ago, while I was reading an old school book with my nephew called Hamlyn's History of the World, my eureka moment came. Charting dramatically how civilisations led from one to the other and full of exciting images of empires, battles, conquerors and explorers, I thought history, in its entirety, would be the most thrilling world in which to set my adventure series.

In the first of the books, The Storm Begins, our hero Jake discovers that his parents have been secretly working for the History Keepers for years and have now disappeared on an assignment to 16th-century Italy. Before long, Jake is on a mission himself, not only to find them, but to stop an evil prince from destroying the Renaissance before it has even happened.

As well as being a heart-stopping adventure, it is based around real historical places, people and ideological movements. The aim is that children learn about history without even knowing it.

Each adventure will visit a new crossroads in time where things could have ended up going in a very different and much bleaker direction. The next story goes back to ancient Rome while the third returns to China in the age of Marco Polo. I hope everyone enjoys escaping to these faraway places as much as I have.

The first book in Damian Dibben's adventure series `The History Keepers' is published by Doubleday



English Heritage have shared a useful guide on how to use Roman sites to find out how people lived in the past - a good starting point for a class investigation

Or try a resource from The National Archives to illustrate what life was like for children in Victorian Britain

In the forums

Do you have any advice for a teacher struggling to teach history, geography and RE in a single year?

All resources and forum links at


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