Peter J Wiltshire
Thank you for your visit to my website. Since you have taken the trouble to do this, you are probably looking for background information and research on one of them. If so each one has its own page – so please see the menu.
If you are interested in why I have written the books, there follows on this page a very brief explanation.
Between 1967 and 1970, I planned and designed motorways. I was one of the White Heat of Technology stormtroopers in the national emergency to build 1000 miles of motorway in 10 years. I first worked on the widening of the A34 over the Berkshire Downs – arguably on the site of the Battle of Ashdown (871) – then joined the team designing the M5 through Somerset – over the Clevedon Hills and Mendips, down to the Somerset levels – almost to Athelney. After that came the design of the M5 around Exeter. I would like to point out that the M5 parallels the Fosse Way across Wessex – supposedly built by the Romans.
Gradually over these and subsequent years, I became increasingly disenchanted with my profession. The task of satisfying people’s cravings for more and more, bigger and ‘better’ cars was fruitless; it was not generated by need, I perceived, but was the consequence of unrestrained and lustful consumerism. And all this had been promulgated by the sinister arts of advertising – advertising that had, over three decades at least, intoxicated all of us. With this playing on my mind, I began reading such books as Decoding Advertising by Judith Williamson, Ways of Seeing by John Berger, and Advertising as Communication by Gillian Dyer. I soon saw the disturbing connection between advertising, public information, propaganda, iconography and political spin, and I learned of the ancient crafts of rhetoric, and became intrigued with post-modern and post-post modern interpretations of literary theory and philosophy – which could not be separated from historical context. Inevitably, therefore, I became fascinated by the work of historiographers such as Keith Jenkins and Hayden White on Refiguring and Rethinking History. Suddenly it all made sense … I had not been building motorways for the benefit of society, because no-one could define either of those terms to my satisfaction.
Upon retirement from paid employment, in 2004, I began writing … not exactly fiction, because no-one can clearly define where the boundary between fiction and non-fiction lies, but something other than that for which I had been educated and trained. My first novel, Defective Gods, was a satirical story of monument building: where an engineer working on the M4 disturbed the resting place of his counterpart who built Stonehenge. The story was sparked from my vague memory of a chance visit by Professor Alexander Thom (of the Megalithic Yard fame) to my construction site on the A34 with a party of Oxford students in 1967. The second novel, ?????????????(yet to be published) is the 9th century story of the writing of the peace treaty between Alfred, the literate king of Wessex, and Guthrum, the leader of the unlettered Danish army. The book is, as the title implies, about the power of literacy and iconography. This was sparked by the discovery that I could see the site of the battle of Ethandune – where the two kings met – from my daughter’s garden in Wiltshire.