About Me
Photograph of Richard Platt
More about me page title

An inventive editor once wrote that I was “born in a storm-tossed rowing boat…” The truth is more dull! I was actually born in a hospital in Northumberland; my mother was a pharmacist and my father a civil engineer. I spent most of my childhood in an ordinary house in a south London suburb.

Life began to get interesting when I left secondary school. I spent a year on a student exchange at the Gunnery school in Connecticut, then returned to the UK to study civil engineering. I was rubbish at this, so I switched to a design degree course. Photography was my passion, and after graduating I worked for a small London gallery called Camerawork, then began writing a column in a photography magazine.

My first book

The first book I wrote was on photography, too. It terrified me! I had never written more than about 1,000 words at a time, and now I had to come up with 80,000. And I had a full-time job. Somehow, I managed it, though I didn’t sleep much.

Books for children

My first really successful book was a collaboration with illustrator Stephen Biesty: Incredible Cross Sections. It sold more than a million copies for publishers Dorling Kindersley. The Guardian later chose it as one of the three greatest children’s books of the 1990s. I went on to write 32 books for DK.

I worked for other clients, too, on very varied projects. I wrote advertising copy for Ilford Photo and Parker Pens. I worked in interactive multimedia, including a CD-ROM version of Sophie’s World, and some comic animations for a museum in Waterford, Ireland. I even wrote restaurant reviews for the Automobile Association (I put on 4kg doing this, because writing about food made me hungry.)

Gradually, themes emerged in my writing. I have become an amateur expert on the sea, and especially on smuggling and piracy. (My website, smuggling.co.uk, is a top source for smuggling information.) I have also become fascinated by social history and by the history of science and technology.

However, I will – and do – write about almost anything, because it’s the variety of my work that I enjoy.

When I'm not writing...

...I'm likely to be out on my recumbent bike cycling along the coastal path ... singing in a choir … making bread... fiddling with some computer code (I'm a closet geek, and built this website myself) ... or gardening with my wife Mary. We live in Hastings, on the East Sussex coast.

Richard Platt as a baby

1950s With Mum

Richard Platt will Phil the Greek

1960s Meeting the Duke

Richard Platt with big hair

1970s Glum civil engineer

Richard Platt trying without success to be a photojournalist

1980s Wannabe photographer

Richard Platt working as a journalist for Marshall Cavendish

1990s Journalist

Richard Platt with chicken

1990s ... later Moving to the country

Richard Platt today