The Trickster Prince

Matt Houlbrook: mobile historian; beard growing, head shaving; occasional cycling.

Prince of Tricksters is now published

I wrote a book: Prince of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook is about a storytelling gentleman crook, British society and culture in the 1920s and 1930s, … Continue reading

July 12, 2016 · Leave a comment

Haunted by you

If you have made a life for the dead and gone, then they can see you. You, the biographer, are real to them, in their obdurate, irritating individuality (which you … Continue reading

July 7, 2016 · Leave a comment

What is a successful book?

It is almost time. It is almost that time. In the next few days hard copies of Prince of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook will … Continue reading

June 15, 2016 · 1 Comment


Right now I am very tired. A long term, a shit year, and too many months playing catch-up since my Dad was in hospital. This is why I am very … Continue reading

April 1, 2016 · 6 Comments

Can you judge a book by its cover?

December 10, 2015 · 1 Comment

You got me Netley

When you write a book about a man given to changing names and telling tales you should expect to be found out at some point. A man like that – … Continue reading

December 2, 2015 · 2 Comments

On not writing (again)

I started writing this blog because I could not write anything else. Struggling with the white noise of not writing I looked for a way out by starting small and … Continue reading

November 9, 2015 · 9 Comments

A tragedy to those that feel: the world according to Josephine O’Dare (1928)

 Josephine O’Dare to Chief Inspector George Yandell (6 August 1928). From National Archives: MEPO 3 / 441: Theresa Agnes Skyrme alias Josephine O’Dare and others: forgery and uttering will of … Continue reading

August 3, 2015 · 1 Comment

Proofs positive

I sent a book manuscript out into the world, and it came back defaced and different. Marginal comments in blue, deletes and edits tracked in green, strange symbols and odd … Continue reading

July 28, 2015 · 3 Comments

On the problem of being charming (in 1920s Britain)

Note: this is not a self-help guide or an introduction on how to be charming. Being charming was a big deal in 1920s Britain. Charm denoted a cluster of personal … Continue reading

July 27, 2015 · 10 Comments