Murderous Medway Panel 2 – Politically Thrilling

21st September 2019

Henry Hemming, KH Irvine and Gareth Rubin capture the political zeitgeist of the last three years and how it’s informed their work. Chaired by Dr. Kate Bradley.

Henry Hemming is the author of six works of non-fiction, including most recently the Sunday Times bestseller M, a biography of the MI5 spymaster Maxwell Knight.

His latest novel, Our Man in New York is gripping story of a propaganda campaign like no other: the covert British operation to manipulate American public opinion and bring the US into the Second World War.

When William Stephenson arrived in the United States towards the end of June 1940 with instructions from the head of MI6 to ‘organise’ American public opinion, Britain was on the verge of defeat. Surveys showed that just 14% of the US population wanted to go to war against Nazi Germany. But soon that began to change…

Those campaigning against America’s entry into the war, such as legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh, talked of a British-led plot to drag the US into the conflict. They feared that the British were somehow flooding the American media with ‘fake news’, infiltrating pressure groups, rigging opinion polls and meddling in US politics.

These claims were shocking and wild: they were also true.

That truth is revealed by Henry Hemming, using hitherto private and classified documents, including the diaries of his own grandparents, who were briefly part of Stephenson’s extraordinary influence campaign that was later described in the Washington Post as ‘arguably the most effective in history’. Stephenson – who saved the life of Hemming’s father – was a flawed maverick, full of contradictions, but one whose work changed the course of the war, and whose story can now be told in full.

“OUR MAN IN NEW YORK is gripping and intoxicating, it unfolds like the best screenplay.” – NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE

Find Henry at:


K.H. Irvine grew up in Scotland and now lives near London. An experienced business leader for over two decades, K.H. Irvine’s work has taken her to board rooms, universities and governments all over the world and has included personal access to the UK’s Special Forces.

A KILLING SIN is K.H. Irvine’s first book and tackles a number of challenging themes, asking when tolerance becomes intolerable and where security measures become racial profiling. A gripping page-turner with huge commercial appeal and immediate resonance in today’s climate, the book raises questions we may not want to answer and is sure to trigger debate.

Book two is set a few years later as Britain moves to civil unrest and the rise of the far right, where the personal and political become intertwined.

Set in London in the very near future, A Killing Sin centres around three dynamic, flawed women who forged a life-long friendship at university. Through their different career paths, their lives become entwined with that of a young woman, a committed jihadist, who embarks on a horrific terrorist plot hitting right at the heart of Government.


Gareth Rubin spent two decades avoiding libel actions as a social affairs journalist before writing his first novel, Liberation Square. His follow-up, published in 2020, is about British agents in France on the eve of D-Day.

Described as ‘a gripping story, with heart’ by the Daily Telegraph, ‘tightly plotted, tense and set in a chillingly plausible world’ by the Sunday Mirror, and ‘a gripping and well-imagined yarn’ by The Sun​, Liberation Square is a murder mystery set in Soviet-occupied London.

It’s 1952 and Soviet troops control British streets after winning the Second World War. After the disastrous failure of D-Day, Britain is occupied by Nazi Germany, and only rescued by Russian soldiers arriving from the east and Americans from the west. The two superpowers divide the nation between them, a wall running through London like a scar.

On the Soviet side of the wall, Jane Cawson calls into her husband’s medical practice, hoping to surprise him. But instead she detects the perfume worn by his former wife, Lorelei, star of propaganda films for the new Marxist regime. Jane rushes to confront them, but soon finds herself caught up in the glamorous actress’s death. Her husband Nick is arrested for murder. Desperate to clear his name, Jane must risk the attention of the brutal secret police as she follows a trail of corruption right to the highest levels of the state. And she might find she never really knew her husband at all.

Fun fact: Gareth also jointly holds a Guinness World Record as a member of the world’s biggest coconut orchestra!

Find him at

Work picDr. Kate Bradley is a senior lecturer in social history and social policy at the University of Kent.

Kate researches and teaches on a range of areas in justice and social policy in the twentieth century, from the development of the juvenile courts to youth leisure and welfare after the Second World War. She has just finished a book on the history of legal aid and advice, which will be published by Manchester University Press in 2019/20.  Kate lives in Rochester, and is an avid reader of crime fiction in her spare time.

Tickets for this panel (£7) and/or an All Day Pass (£30) can be found here.


Creative Care Expo


Along with many other arts, culture and community organisations, we’re delighted to be taking part in the Kent Dementia Action Alliance’s Creative Care Expo in January.

Continue reading

Art Display at Strood Library

The Rochester and West Kent Art Society is exhibiting at Strood Library from Monday, June 3rd to Saturday, June 29th.

2013-6 Rochester and West Kent Art SocietyExhibiton - Invitation flyer

A number of local artists will be displaying their work, which incorporates a variety of topics and mediums. The exhibition is open from 10am to 3pm daily and you can contact the society by email at: or check them out on their website  or like them on Facebook.

Dates for your Diary: Writers’ Rendezvous & Garden Party

With news that Eastgate House Gardens are off limit for July, due to their renovation work, we’re pleased to announce that the Garden Party will this year be held at The Good Intent pub, John Street, Rochester, on Sunday, July 14th.


As the Garden Party is a part of this summer’s Medway Open Studios and Arts Festival, the Good Intent is a perfect venue, located, as it is, smack bang in the middle of many of the artists also taking part. So check out the map when it’s published and work your cultural way around Rochester, stopping off at the GI for a well earned break between 12noon and 4pm. You’ll be able to enjoy storytelling, open mics, music and a special edition of Seasonally Effected.

More details will be released soon; we look forward to seeing you there 🙂

Before then, sample the delights of Seasonally Effected at the Dot Cafe this Wednesday, May 29th and follow it up with the Summer Writer’s Rendezvous, which will take place in the Two Brewers, Rochester High Street, on Thursday, June 13th, from 7.30pm. Bring some writing along to share, or don’t, it’s entirely up to you but be assured of a warm welcome from fellow writers and readers.

Kaleidoscope at Rochester Art Gallery; Zara Carpenter in the Craft Case


Photo: Kaleidoscope Collection. Ink 2013. Hand and computer generated images, digitally printed cotton sateen, 100x100cm Neil Bottle

Neil Bottle’s exquisite new Kaleidoscope series of printed textiles explores the relationship between digital textile printing and craft printing techniques and has been created especially for this solo exhibition at Rochester Art Gallery.

To find out more about this exhibition, which runs from tomorrowe, May 17th to July 14th, please visit Rochester Art Gallery & Craft case exhibitions and activities.

Craft Case

Medway based milliner Zara Carpenter, makes unique bespoke sculptural headpieces and ready-to-wear hats, using found objects. Inspired by nature, 1920s design, Dutch still life paintings, fantasy books and films, Zara’s beautiful pieces are wearable works of art.


Free Family Collage Workshops
Saturday, 29 June, 10.30am to 12.30pm or 1.30 to 3.30pm.
Join Fashion Textile students from UCA throughout the day, to create a collage inspired by the geometric patterns, colours and images used in the Kaleidoscope collection. Suitable for accompanied children aged seven years or older.

Free artist talk
Saturday, 6 July, 1 to 2.30pm
Join textile designer Neil Bottle for an informal gallery talk and exhibition tour. Find out more about how he creates his unique richly layered digital images, his inspiration, techniques and his new Kaleidoscope collection.

Advance booking is essential as places are limited. Phone 01634 338319 or email

For more information about Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case please visit phone 01634 338319 or email

Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case, Medway Visitor Information Centre, Ground Floor, 95 High Street, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1LX.

Potlatch Collective Poem #13


I lost my lfe in my second life

A post life where I was free

The sun rose every day anew

A bright etchasketch moment witnessed by the milkman

Two pints. On the doorstep. She’d asked for more.

Just like the day before

I thought I’d seen that couple

Before in a distant land

The old ship lay …

This is a collective poem from the Literary Potlatch, written by the participants on the day, with each of them only able to see the previous line.  At present, the image accompanying it is a stock photo but we would really love someone to respond to the poem visually, as only an original image can possibly do it justice. Full credit will of course be given. Please email if you’re interested in creating something special we can share. Thank you. :)