I am indebted to Terence Burchell from Mulbarton near Norwich for this video of me speaking to a lovely audience at Hanover Gardens, Mulbarton in June this year, as part of the Mulbarton Words Festival. I hope some of you will take 30 minutes of your lives to watch as I describe the early life of Joe Stirling, Kindertransport boy and former Sheriff of Norwich, as well as a little about how my debut biography came to be published by Pen and Sword Books in January. In January 2017 this remarkable man’s story will be available even more widely when Skyhorse Publishing of New York publish and distribute my book to the book lovers of the U.S.A. To purchase a signed copy directly from me take a look at the menu on this WordPress blog to find my contact details. Many thanks….
Joe and I had a wonderful evening yesterday (18th July 2016) visiting members of the Royal British Legion, in the picturesque Norfolk town of Wymondham. There was an excellent audience for our presentation on Joe’s biography, Escaping Hitler, and you could have heard a pin drop during Joe’s 30 minute long talk about his early life in Nazi Germany. I picked up the story when he joins the British Army, showing some photographs from Joe’s years as a soldier, rarely seen at our talks. They especially enjoyed the photo of Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow (whispers of ‘I trained there’) and the one of Joe’s wife Jean inside a shell casing at Bramley Barracks near Basingstoke.
There were people there who had known Joe in past years and he was delighted to share personal memories with them. A retired member of Lions Club International endorsed Joe’s wonderful work with them for over fifty years. We felt very welcome and were impressed by the large number of books we signed at the end of the evening! Our thanks go to Chairman John Morter and Entertainments Officer Roy McGee for inviting us to share Joe’s remarkable story with your members.
SIX MONTHS AGO today, 5th January 2016, my debut biography Escaping Hitler (foreword by Shirley Williams) was published by Pen and Sword Books. I will never forget the incredible moment when my first 200 copies arrived in six boxes at my house! And when I first presented Joe Stirling with his personal copy! Since that date so much has happened to me and to the book that I felt this was an appropriate moment to share the phenomonal achievements so far.
Over 30 published articles and reviews including local Archant publications, the Journal from the Association of Jewish Refugees, Lion Magazine and the Rhein Zeitung, regional newspaper for the Rhineland around Koblenz.
Grand official launch at Jarrold Department Store in Norwich on 4th February with 220 people in the audience. We signed over 50 books that night!
Appeared in Jarrold’s National Bestsellers lists for five weeks running, including No.1 during week of February 13th 2016!
29 Public and private talks and powerpoint presentations including two in Germany (Koblenz Federal Archive and the village of Nickenich). Seven more in the diary between now and July 2017. More welcomed!
Escaping Hitler appears in Norfolk Libraries. Waiting lists build up to borrow copies.
403 followers on Facebook and 112 on Twitter
542 copies sold directly from me and Joe, 297 of them signed and sold at our speaking engagements.
From the initial 1300 print run Pen and Sword is now down to the final 200 in the warehouse. Plans for a further hardback run and a little later for a softback.
In March this year New York Publisher Skyhorse bought the option to publish and distribute Escaping Hitler onto the U.S. market. Projected date for this is January 3rd 2017. I have recently received my Authors Questionnaire in order for us to work together on a marketing plan. (This was beyond my wildest expectations!)
Escaping Hitler entered for two major Book Awards – watch this space!
And finally, as a result of the marketing successes so far, I am now contracted to Pen and Sword for a second biographical book: My Lady Lord Mayor: The Seventeen Female Lord Mayor of Norwich 1923-2017. Estimated publication end 2017/early 2018.
So more work ahead!!
My sincere thanks to everyone who follows this blog, my Facebook page and my Twitter feed, and especially those who have already bought and read the book! Without your support the statistics would not look nearly as good!
Don’t forget – by clicking on the menu at the top of this page you will find full details of how to order your personally signed copy directly from me. The book makes a great gift!
As a result of the recent articles in the Rhein-Zeitung in Koblenz and surrounding areas, on my book events in Koblenz and Nickenich, I have received an email from a lady called Hildegard. She lives about 20km from Koblenz and when reading her newspaper recognised the last known address of Alfred and Ida Strern, the Jewish parents of Günter Stern, now known as Joe Stirling, the subject of my book Escaping Hitler. Hildegard’s mother, now 90 years of age, moved with her family into the same block of houses,next door to the Sterns, some months after little Günter had climbed aboard his Kindertransport to freedom. Over her life Hildegard’s mother had often spoken of the Jewish couple who were taken away by the Nazis in 1942, remembering them fondly, especially her neighbour Ida. Hildegard has now requested to buy a copy of my book for her mother to read about what happened to Ida’s son, the boy she no doubt spoke about often.
Wonderful enough to receive this email, but even better, Hildegard has now kindly sent me a photo of the block of houses in Görgenstrasse, Koblenz, from the autumn of 1939, shortly after her mother moved in with her parents. It is believed that the Sterns lived on the upper floor. This is a wonderful image from the past. I would like to share with you now the photograph, alongside the one of how the building looks today. Outside the house there are now two Stolpersteine (engraved brass plates) in honour of Alfred and Ida. This journey with Joe just keeps on giving.
Sunday 19th June is Father’s Day in Great Britain so there is still time to buy your signed copy of Escaping Hitler as the perfect gift for Dad. A boy’s own story of despair in Nazi Germany which changes to one of hope and determination, success against all the odds. Joe Stirling’s full life has been dominated by family, his pioneering travel business, community work, his year as Sheriff of Norwich and his 50 years plus with Lions Clubs International. The book also includes many anecdotal details of the history of Norwich over five decades. I have been touched and delighted with people’s comments about this biography of a Kindertransport refugee who escaped Nazi Germany and finally settled in Norfolk. It is available on Amazon.co.uk, from Pen and Sword Books, from Jarrold Book Shop in Norwich or to buy a signed copy (by both the author and Joe Stirling) take a look at the instructions on the Menu tab on this website. £19.50 plus £4 postage (U.K. only) I look forward to hearing from you.
Joe Stirling reading his own biography!
After two years away, Past District Governor Lion Joe Stirling of City of Norwich Club, and subject of his biography, returned to the Lions Convention for his District 105EA. This time he was not a delegate, instead he and his biographer (me!) were invited to promote the story of Joe’s life. Copies of Escaping Hitler proved popular with the many Lions who came up to speak to us at Stoke by Nayland Country Club today, many of whom have been close friends with Joe for many decades. I enjoyed hearing them swopping memories and stories, many of which already appear in the book! We had a great day and I would like to thank District Governor Chris Crick and Convention Host Peter Smith for their warm welcome.
To my delight, on pages 40-41 of the April edition of Archant’s Let’s Talk Magazine published today, I found a wonderful two page review of Escaping Hitler. Leading journalist Derek James has written an excellent summary of Joe’s remarkable story, leaving the reader wanting more…. hopefully this will prompt some to buy their own copy! Today is a good day…..