An Introduction into how I wrote the Time Travel Diaries

If you are reading the Time Travel Diaries for the first time you may find the format unusual. That is because they are written in the form of an epistolary novel whereby the diaries of the two main characters, Elizabeth and James, are combined and then narrated in a sequence by a fictional author, Professor Rolleston.
The reason for this was simple. I wanted the hero and heroine to present the adventure from their own perspectives.

So how did I do it?

My original intention was to write a simple story by someone in the distant future who finds two diaries locked together in an old box. One written by a James Urquhart from 2015 and the other by an Elizabeth Bicester, a Victorian lady of means. At first the finder of the diaries believes they are some form of hoax for which the meaning is not clear. However, in the process of reading the story and analysis of the diary material he is led to the conclusion that they were written by two lovers who had actually lived a hundred years apart and if that was true demonstrated that time travel was possible.

In order to put this in a novel I first thought the simplest way was to just write extracts verbatim from each diary alternatively in chronological order. First James, then Elizabeth then James and so on. This I hoped would allow me to write from each other’s perspective. This was quite important because I was concerned that if I wrote from the point of view of just one of them I would not be able to get inside the mind of the other and understand and develop his or her character. Of course that might just be a limitation on my abilities to write a story, but I certainly felt I could not write about Elizabeth unless I was Elizabeth.

However, I quickly discovered this not only put rigid constraints on the telling of the story but actually made it sound like I had just cut up two diaries in sections and pasted them together. I then did some research on this format and discovered that what I was trying to devise was apparently called an ‘epistolary’: a novel containing an exchange of letters or in modern day form a set of emails between two persons (see Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Shelley’s Frankenstein for an example). However, this still wasn’t what I wanted.

I then considered putting each person’s story as a separate chapter, but I could see immediately that I was in danger of just repeating the story in alternate chapters. There was also the difficulty of choosing a good ending to one chapter and then trying to put it in a different form in the next chapter. It wasn’t going to work.

Still not wanting to abandon either person I then thought of a different tact. I would use a fictional author to narrate the diaries. I decided that the finder of the diaries, Mr Rolleston, would write the story but still in the form of alternate passages from each diary but in the character of Elizabeth and James. By this method the story progressed; first one then the other took turn to tell the story and also where appropriate, or inappropriate, making comment about each other. This was much more fun as it allowed me to introduce banter and humour. This format also allowed me to introduce conversations into the text which is of course an essential part of any novel.

Thus I was able to re-establish the flow of the story and keep the concept of the diaries. But more importantly it gave me the freedom to write ‘in character”.

I hope that makes sense and help readers to follow the stories.

Any comments are welcome

Thank you.

Bruce Macfarlane


Bibliography of Arthurian Literature

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Just updated the bibliography for my book ‘Notes on Arthurian Literature’ which is available at Amazon.

An introduction to my notes can be found here




Bibliography on Arthurian Literature

1 Malory. Mort D’Arthur, Vol 1. J. M. Dent
2 Malory. Mort D’Arthur, Vol 2. J. M. Dent
3 Malory’s Works. Mort D’Arthur: Winchester Edition. Oxford
4 Nenius. British History and the Welsh Annals. Phillimore
5 Monmouth, Geoffrey. History of the Kings of Britain. Penguin
6 Wace & Layamon. Arthurian Chronicles. J. M. Dent
7 Layamon. Brut. J. M. Dent
8 Eschenbach, Wolfram. Parzival. Penguin
9 Guest, Lady Charlotte. Mabinogion. J. M. Dent 10 Mabinogion: Penguin 1976
Jones, Gwyn & Thomas Jones. Mabinogion. J. M. Dent
Davies, Sioned. Mabinogion. OUP.
11 Chretien de Troyes. Arthurian Romance. Tr. W.W. Comfort. J. M. Dent
12 Chretien de Troyes. Percival: The Story of the Grail. D.S. Brewer
13 Bryant, Nigel. Perlesvaus-The High History of the Holy Grail: D.S. Brewer
14 Bruce J. D. Evolution of Arthurian Romance: Peter Smith 1958 15 Loomis R.S. Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages. OUP. 16 Aneirin. Gododdin. Welsh Classics.1990
17 Dumville, David. Sub Roman Britain: History and Legend. 1977
18 Dumville, David. Britons and Anglo-Saxons in the Early Middle Ages: Variorum 1993
19 Morris, John. The Age of Arthur, Vol 1. Phillimore
20 Gildas. The Woes of the Britains. Phillimore
21 Cambrenus Giraldus. History and Topography of Wales. Penguin 1978
22 Adamnan. The life of St Columba. Routledge
23 Tours, Gregory. The History of the Franks. Penguin
24 Llancarfan, Carador. Two Lives of Gildas. Llanerch 1990 25 Bromwich, Rachel. The Arthur of the Welsh. Cardiff Univ Press 1991
26 Roberts, Brynley. Early Welsh Poetry. Nat Lib Wales. 1988
27 Bede. History of the English Church and People. Penguin
28 Malmesbury, William. The Kings before the Norman Conquest. Llanerch 1989
29 Wendover, Roger of. Flowers of History: The History of the Anglo-Saxons to 1235AD. Tr. J.A.Giles. Forgotten Books.
30 Chretien de Troyes. Tristan et Iseut. Larousse Classiques.
31 Thomas of Angleterre. Tristan. Penguin 1976
32 Zosimus. The History of Count Zosimus sometime advocate and chancellor of the Roman. Tr. J.Davis. London.
33 Dillon & Chadwick. The Celtic Realms. Cardinal Books 1973. 34 Anglo Saxon Chronicles. J. M. Dent 1934
Anglo Saxon Chronicles. Tr Michael Swanton. Phoenix Press 2000.
35 Ashe, Geoffrey. The Discovery of King Arthur. Guild Publishing 1985
36 Morte Arthur. Two Early English Romances. London: Everyman, 1912.
37 Laymon & Wace. Arthurian Chronicles: Roman du Brut and Laymon’s Brut. J. M. Dent
38 Ashe Geoffrey. The Quest for Arthur’s Britain. Book Club Assc. 1968
39 Morris, John. The Age of Arthur, Vol 2. Phillimore.
40a. Jordanes. Origins and Deeds of the Goths.
40 Thomas, Charles. Tintagel- Arthur and Archaeology. Batsford
41 Monmouth, Geoffrey. Vita Merlini. Translated by J. J. Parry. 1926
42 Wales, Gerald of. De Instructione Principis-on the Instruction of a Prince. Tr. by Scott McLetchie. Medieval Source Book 1994
43 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Penguin.
44 Spence, Lewis. Celtic Myths and Legend. Gresham. 45 Beroul. The Romance of Tristan. Penguin 1970
46 Strassburg, Gotfried von. Tristan. Penguin 1976
47 Tacitus. The Annals. Book 15
48 Procopius. History of the Later Roman Empire, Vol 2 xxii-xxxiii. Tr. J.B.Bury.
49 History of the Wars Books III and IV The Vandalic War.: Tr. H.B. Dewing.
50 Sidorova, Olga & V. Churakova. A cluster of stratospheric volcanic eruptions in the AD530s recorded in. Global and Planetary Change 23 August 2014. Vols.122-2014 140–150.
51 Baille, M.G.L. ‘Dendrochronolgy Raises Questions About the Nature of the AD 536 Dust Veil Event’ The Holocene 4 (1994).
52 Abbott. D.H. etal. Magnetite and Silicate Spherules from the GISP2 Core at the 536A.D. Horizon. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2008
53 Marden, E.G. & Williams G.V. Catalogue of Cometary Orbits. (International Astronomical Union).1996
54 Tsu, W. S. The Observations of Halley’s Comet in Chinese History. Popular Astronomy Vol. 42
55 Darrah, John. The Real Camelot. Thames and Hudson 56 Apocrapha: Old Testament. CUP.
57 Loomis R. S. The Grail. Constable
58 Voragine, Jacabus. The Golden Legends-Readings on the Saints. Princetown UP 1993
59 The High History of the Holy Grail, Vol. 1 and 2. J. M. Dent 60 Map, Walter. Quest of the Holy Grail. Penguin 1969 61 Chretien de Troyes. Perceval ou Le Roman du Graal. Folio (French)
62 Joseph of Arimathie. Romance of the Holy Grail. Llanerch 63 Lancelot of the Lake: OUP
64 Weston, Jessie. Studies in Medievalism: The Romance of Percival. 1988
65 Frappier J. Chretien de Troyes. Ohio Univ. Press
66 Blarmiris, D. Characterisation in Wolfram’s Parzival. CUP. 1966
67 Duby, Georges. France in the Middle Ages. Blackwell
68 Bromwich, Rachel. Trioedd Ynes Prydein (Triads). University of Wales 1961.
69 Baigent, Leigh. The Temple and the Lodge. Arcade. 1989 70 Hancock, Graham. The Sign and the Seal. Heineman 1992 71 Loomis, R. S. Arthurian Tradition and Chretien de Troyes. OUP
72 Malco & Littleton. From Scythia to Camelot. Garland 1991
73 Mathews, John. The Song of Taliesin. Aquarian Press 1991
74 Spence, Lewis. Celtic myths and legend. Gresham.
75 Rolleston W. Legends of the Celtic Race. Harrap.
76 Gantz, Jeffrey. Early Irish Myths and Sagas. Penguin 1981
77 Loomis, R. S. Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance. Constable 1993
78 Edwards, Elizabeth. A Companion to Malory. (Arthurian Studies) 2000
79 Fields, P. C. The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Mallory. D. S. Brewer 1993
80 Ackroyd, Peter. The House of Dee. Penguin 1994 81 Eschenbach, Wolfram von. Parzival.
82 Wood, Ian. The Merovingian Kingdoms. Longman 1994 83 Caesar Julius. The Conquest of Gaul. Penguin 84 Herodtius. The Histories. Penguin.
85 Charpentier, Louis. Les Templiers. Robert Laffont 1976
86 Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Corgi. 1983
88 Davies, Soined. Mabinogian. OUP 2008
89 Baroon, W.R.J. The Arthur of the English. UWP 2001

The Webs of Time- Available now on Amazon

websoftimecover1Here are seven short stories from the time travel diaries of James Urquhart, minor scientist, who lived in 2015 and Elizabeth Bicester whom he met at cricket match in 1873.

They are narrated by Professor Rolleston who discovered the original diaries and who spent his life, when not hunting fairies, trying to understand their contents and the reasons for their existence.–~–Three of the stories, Northern Nights, A Holiday in Cornwall and the Haunted Mill, previously appeared in Three Tales Out of Time.

Available on Amazon


Entangled in Time

In this narration is an example of where the time lines of our intrepid Time Travellers have somehow crossed with strange consequences.

Time Fracture

A difficulty with assembling the diaries into a chronological order is that many are fragmentary and originate from different time lines. It is akin to constructing a jig saw puzzle of a picture with pieces from a number of puzzles all of the same image but cut differently.
But there are some which do not fit at all. Their stories end strangely as though the time travellers were somehow trapped or caught in a temporal eddy.
Perhaps you can better understand what I mean by reading this example:

On Mars the Waves Are Really High

The creature known by the name ‘Peters’ appears rarely in the diaries. However I have gleamed sufficient information to conclude that he may originate from an ancient race of time travellers that had the ability to alter time. I am not certain whether his race still exists here or resides in another universe but what is certain is that on at least two occasions he appears in the diaries at a time of imminent catastrophe and is able to move Urquhart and Bicester across space-time without effort to avert the crisis.
Why he and the Martians have such interest in the diarists is an enigma. But no doubt they have discovered that Urquhart and Bicester have acquired special abilities which is advantageous to them.
I hope eventually, as new fragments of the diaries appear, to find how they acquired these abilities for I believe it is key to our survival.
In this narration from the diaries we find Peters has sent the diarists back to a distant past to avert the destruction of Earth and Mars.

Three Tales Out of Time

Here are three short stories from the Time Travel Diaries selected by Elizabeth of holidays the couple took while ‘resting’ from their time travels.
As usual in my narrations of the diaries I have assigned a J. for James Urquhart and E. for Elizabeth Bicester.

Northern Nights
The Haunted Mill
A Holiday in Cornwall

In the Beginning. Or Was It?

In my original publication of the diaries I recorded that I had found them bound together in a copper chest during an auction sale at Miss Bicester’s home at Hamgreen. However, I omitted the circumstances by which I became aware of their existence.
The reason was simple. I had been charged with making sense of the diaries and assembling them into a chronological order and this task kept me fully occupied for over a year. However, as I progressed through the diaries I began to feel that they were not just a record of the time travellers’ lives but something more. They seemed to have a life of their own and I began to wonder whether the means by which they came to my attention was a necessary and integral part of their existence!
I could not put my finger on it at first until I came across an entry in Miss Bicester’s diary regarding a discussion where she and Mr Urquhart wondered whether they were actually real and had free will or were under the influence of unknown forces. They were concerned that during their journeys through time they were not in control of their actions. They were especially suspicious of H G Wells who often appeared at opportune moments to nudge them in a certain direction to assist with a quest and had great interest in their diaries. I must confess he is an enigma for he states in one entry that he has the ability to have what he referred to as ‘out of time’ experiences and see the future! I have gleamed a little from the Martians on this and gathered that not only is he well known to them but I have the distinct impression that they often assist him or use him to alter futures or pasts for their own benefit.
However Miss Bicester’s entry fed upon my unease for it suggested that the diaries somehow dictated rather than recorded their action. In other words the time travellers were or are constrained within a time-trap from which they are unable to escape.
As I pondered on this, the unusual means by which I became involved with the diaries began to prey on my mind and I began to wonder whether I was part of the diaries as well. Because of this I believe it would be helpful if I have presented here a brief resume of how I arrived at the diaries in the hope that it may shed further light on their importance.

The Webs of Time- Short Stories


I’m just finishing a book of short stories from the Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester which will be entitled The Webs of Time and hope to publish by Christmas.

As usual the stories are narrated by Professor Rolleston who discovered the original diaries and who spent his life, when not hunting fairies, trying to understand their contents and the reasons for their existence.

Entangled in Time

An example of where our reluctant Time Travellers’ time lines have somehow crossed with strange consequences.

Time Fracture

A fragment of the diaries where somehow the time travellers are trapped or caught in a temporal eddy.

On Mars the Waves are Really High

In this narration from the diaries we find James and Elizabeth caught in the “The Magic Shop” and sent back to a distant past to avert the destruction of Earth and Mars.

Three Tales Out of Time
Northern Nights
The Haunted Mill
A Holiday in Cornwall

If you ever find yourself going out with a Victorian lady and you feel the need to impress her with your romantic skills, I would suggest taking her night clubbing in Hartlepool, camping in Cornwall or touring in the remote parts of France should be immediately crossed off your list.
Three humorous and almost spooky stories from the Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester.

In the Beginning. Or was it?

Here the narrator, Rolleston, describes how he found the diaries

Three of the stories, Northern Nights, A Holiday in Cornwall and the Haunted Mill, previously appeared in Three Tales Out of Time.

The Time Travel Diaries Trilogy


I will be publishing on Amazon shortly The Time Travel Diaries Trilogy

This volume will contain the first three books, Out of Time, A Drift Out of Time and A House Out of Time which originally appeared together in the Time Travel Diaries Omnibus.

As usual it will be narrated by Professor Rolleston, and recounts the humorous and sometimes romantic adventures of James Urquhart, minor science lecturer living in 2015 and Elizabeth Bicester, whom he stumbled upon at a cricket match at Hamgreen in 1873.


In trying to get a coherent idea of time travel in my SF books of the Time Travel Diaries, I had not originally thought of using H. G. Wells, however, when I realised he had lived in Midhurst after he left Upark, the opportunity to use him was too good to miss. How to use him though was a different matter. Then while researching his life and trying to get something that would fit in with James Maxwell, I came across an intriguing article on how H. G. Wells got his ideas on time dimension by Stephen Baxter of Imperial College.

I have extracted from Baxter’s notes the parts which gave me some ideas for time travel. In my book, Wells is able to ‘see’ the future through ‘out of body’ experiences and his books such as The Time Machine, War of the World’s and The Shape of Things to Come are actually his records of the futures he has seen. But unlike the time traveller in his book The Time Machine he cannot travel through time.

H. G. Wells’ Science Romance, The Time Machine, was published in 1895. This was about 10 years before Einstein published his first papers on Relativity and four dimensional space in which time was proposed as the fourth dimension yet Wells shows in his book that he is well versed in the theories of four dimensional space of his time. This is not surprising as he passed examinations in astrophysics and came into contact or read the papers of scientists who were researching multi dimensional universes.

At the time Wells, the concept of four dimensional space was still being developed and there was much discussion on what the fourth dimension was. Some thought it was a spatial dimension and others possibly a time dimension. Wells was of the opinion it was a time dimension as he has his time traveller actually argue against a prominent scientist (Newcomb) who) had proposed the fourth dimension was spatial.

“foolish people [who] have got hold of the wrong side of the idea.” He then actually mentions a Professor Newcomb, who was “expounding this to the New York Mathematical Society only a month or so ago”.

His Time Traveller says, “Any body must have extension in four directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and – Duration… There are really four dimensions, three which we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth, Time…”

Newcomb had been publishing papers on the topic of four dimensions since the 1870’s and saw the fourth dimension as a spatial rather than a time dimension. As an example he talked about escaping from an enclosed sphere by a four-dimensional transfer.

The most prominent thinker in Wells’s day who proposed time as a fourth dimension was probably Charles Howard Hinton, who published a paper on “What is the Fourth Dimension?” – the answer being “time” – in 1880. Apparently Hinton speculated widely on higher dimensions. He used the fourth dimension to justify ghosts, God and an afterlife.

In 1885 Hinton produced a paper in Nature on his ideas of spacetime as a rigid four-dimensional geometry, with movement being generated as an illusion, by an object passing through a three- dimensional surface.

“Each part of the ampler existence which passed through our space would seem perfectly limited to us. We should have no indication of the permanence of its existence… Change and movement seem as if they were all that existed. But the appearance of them would be due merely to the momentary passing through our consciousness of ever-existing realities.”


2018-24-04-15-59-13The house exists throughout time but inside it’s usually 1895. Unless it changes its mind of course.

The problem is Time has been fractured back in the 6th century and it seems only our intrepid Time Travellers can fix it.
If only they knew what they were doing. Luckily Elizabeth is quite good at driving a Martian Spaceship.

A House Out of Time.
FREE on Amazon Kindle TODAY 24th April.
From The Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester


Mars and the Time Travel Diaries

Mars mapThis is where the Martians live of course.
I have always been fascinated by Mars and have enjoyed reading about how our view of Mars has changed over the last hundred years. When I was a child it was just a small red ball, half the size of the Earth, with what looked like ice caps on the poles made of water or dry ice which expanded and contracted with the seasons and the surface covered in strange ever-changing markings.

Like many children I painstakingly made drawings of the ‘canali’ of Mars, first described by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877, which everyone knows was apparently mistranslated into English as “canals” and put a lot of SF writers on the gravy train.
Despite the paucity of data, there was much discussion on whether Mars was habitable with the general conclusion that Mars was a barren place, could not support life, and mars canalsdevoid of water and the marking were just the effect of erosion caused by the Martian winds.
Personally I always thought the redness of Mars was due to rust formed by the reaction of iron, water and air and this suggested that the Mars once had oxygen and there had been vast quantities of water at or near the surface. Which just goes to show how easy it is to form an opinion on a matter with no credible knowledge or evidence of the subject what so ever.
However, when Mariner 4 went to Mars in the 1960’s its analysis seemed to confirm the majority opinion that the place was quite uninhabitable for the likes of us. With a surface pressure of only a few thousandths of earth’s our bodily fluids would rapidly boil when they were not being frozen by temperatures down to -100C.
There was one optimistic note for life though which I clung on to. The temperature at the equator could rise up 20C.
All this gloom, I was glad to see, was transformed by Mars Orbiter and the NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor amazing maps of Mars and the surface analysis carried out by Spirit and Opportunity which gave conclusive evidence that vast quantities of liquid water existed at some time in the past and was still present at or near the surface.
To get an idea of what the topology and geology of Mars looks like go to the Google’s Map of Mars and Wikipedia’s Geology of Mars

For my novels on Mars I have selected the northern area around the Tharis Volcanoes and the Mariner Valley as my main locations. I was particularly fascinated by the Tharis volcanoes by their almost artificial looking alignment and the massive Mons Olympus, the tallest volcano in the solar system, rising behind it.
I postulated that the northern hemisphere, most of which is a smooth depression, was once the Martian Sea and the Mariner Valley was a great river fed from underground lakes in the region of the Tharis and Olympus volcanoes which flowed down to the bay of the Chryse Planitia. This apparently wasn’t too far from the truth as results from the Global Survey suggest that the immense equatorial Mariner Valley, almost 4000 km long, was actually formed by a catastrophic release of underground water!
To meet the Martians in my novels I had to find a way to get under the surface of Mars. I thought of entering via the volcano summits or imagined caves in the cliffs of the valleys. But then I found that NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft had spotted seven almost perfectly circular pits or cave on the flanks of the Tharis Arsia Mons volcanos. mars cavern1The entrances to these pits were 100 to 250 metres wide and were thought to be up to 100 metres deep. My view is that we will eventually find a vast cavern network beneath them left by the massive lakes of water that erupted and flowed across the plain to form the Mariner valley complex. The holes I think are just puncture marks in the cavern roofs caused by meteorites.
Anyway these gave me a ‘credible’ entrances into the Martian world I was looking for. I would not be surprised if whatever form the Martians might exist this is where we will find them.

A description of what they look like can be found here.

Time Travel Diaries