A particular thrill that has stayed with me was being handed my first library card by the fearsome Miss Mary Wright, head librarian, granting me admittance into the silent and hallowed children’s room. My world opened up. First, Enid Blyton’s adventure books in which boys were brave, girls were wimps, adults didn’t exist, and the characters remained the same age for ever. But soon my tastes grew more far-reaching. I relished swashbuckling heroes like Jim Hawkins, Robin Hood, Rob Roy, and King Arthur. And tragic orphans such as Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, who survived to tell the tale. And ultimately as many historical stories as I could lay my hands on.