I'm Stephen Bates, a British writer and award-winning journalist.

For over 45 years I’ve reported from more than 40 countries around the world, for the BBC, Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and – for 22 of those years – for The Guardian.

I am now a freelance writer, regular broadcaster and the author of eight books with two more scheduled for publication in 2022. I’m always happy to respond to commissions from new sources in UK and abroad.

You can contact me by email or on +44 (0) 7770 929 302 or my Agent Charlie Viney on +44 (0) 7734 072 044

Stephen Bates

New release

Photographer's Boy
The Poisonous Solicitor: The true story of a 1920s murder mystery (April 2022)

In May 1922 a Hay-on-Wye solicitor was hanged for poisoning his wife with arsenic. One hundred years after the execution, I examine and retell the story of the case, evoking the period and atmosphere of the early 1920s, and questioning the fatal judgement.

Available at:
Blackwells (with audio CD)
and all good book shops


Immersive and compelling, The Poisonous Solicitor works at every level: as human drama, as an evocative slice of social and legal history, above all as a lucid and dispassionate presenting of the evidence about a century-old puzzle.

David Kynaston, acclaimed social historian

Stephen Bates puts us in the middle of an extraordinary trial for murder, when one life and many reputations were at stake. It was gripping then and fascinating now, with a shocking sting in the tale. You will read it in one sitting.

Marc Mulholland, author of The Murderer of Warren Street

Marital disharmony, spare arsenic in the house, a premature death, the suspicions of nosey neighbours – all leading to the judge putting on the ‘Black Cap’. Have you every imagined you might find yourself sitting in judgement over a murder trial? Stephen Bates’ gripping narrative takes you right inside one of the classic court cases of the 20th century. His page-turner lays out all the evidence for you to examine, so you feel you are actually up there on the bench – presiding over the dramatic trial of the only solicitor ever to be hanged in England. Guilty or innocent? You decide...

Robert Lacey, bestselling historian and biographer


Royalty Inc.: Britain's Best-Known Brand (Sept 2015)
Royalty Inc

Was partly the outcome of my twelve years as the Guardian's royal correspondent, 2000-2012, but it contains much new information and the outcome of interviews with many current and former palace officials and members of staff.

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Penny Loaves and Butter Cheap: Britain in 1846 (2014)
Penny Loaves

Or Two Nations: Britain in 1846 (paperback, 2015) A kaleidoscopic picture of Britain in 1846, a nation on the brink of economic and social change as the Industrial Revolution deepened its impact.

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The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian Britain’s Most Notorious Doctor (Sept 2015)
The Poisoner

This is a re-examination of a notorious Victorian murder case, which thrilled the world in 1856.

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1815: Regency Britain in the Year of Waterloo (2014)
Regency Britain

‘Battles, balls, Byron and the birth of modern Britain described with wit and wisdom’

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God’s Own Country: Religion and Politics in the US (2007)
Gods Own Country

I’m a huge fan of America and its history and this is an attempt to explain to a British readership why Americans get religion and we don’t.

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Asquith, Biography of the Edwardian Prime Minister (2008)

Part of the 20th Century British Prime Ministers series.

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A Church at War: Anglicans and Homosexuality (2004)
Gods Own Country

Commissioned at the height of the controversy over the appointment of a gay bishop – Gene Robinson – in the US –and the appointment and then withdrawal of Jeffrey John in England.

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The Photographer’s Boy (2013)
Photographer's Boy

This novel takes the reader into three different key periods in US history: the 1860s, the 1930s, and the present day. It raises great questions about journalism, photography, war, and young love in a compelling story that mixes past and present.

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Watch on YouTube


A selection of my work covering royalty, religion, history, cricket and a surprising number of obituaries of politicians, clerics, academics, people in the media and the public eye is shown on the Guardian website.

View journalism


Contact me on stephenbates2012@gmail.com
or +44 (0) 7770 929 302
or my agent Charlie Viney of The Viney Agency on email or +44 (0) 7734 072 044

Stephen John Bates

Stephen Bates