A large turnout at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Classics Society was treated to a detailed and passionate talk on ‘life as a Roman legionary’ by Ben Kane, Sunday Times bestselling author of Classical fiction including the ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Hannibal’ series.

Head of Classics Jon Lidiard said: “It was not difficult to discern Ben’s enthusiasm for his subject matter, as he was himself fully kitted out as a Roman soldier, from his hob-nailed boots right up to his shield and helmet!

The pupils were treated to a fast-paced overview of many aspects of life as a soldier, brought to life by a combination of slides and artefacts ranging from hairpins to dice to swords – all of which were manhandled with great zeal by the pupils after the talk.

The range and sheer number of questions for Ben at the end of the talk was a reflection of how his enthusiasm for the subject matter had rubbed off on his audience; perhaps one of them will be the next big thing in historical fiction!”

Author Ben Kane said: “I was delighted that the talk was so well supported and that the Q&A session had to be stopped due to the lateness of the hour – it is a sign of a vibrant Classics scene at Sedbergh!”

Ben was born in Kenya and grew up in Ireland from the age of seven. “At school, whilst becoming an avid reader of just about any genre, I especially liked military and historical fiction.

I spent nearly all my pocket money on books, and devoured the contents of the local library. Although I loved reading I never really thought about studying English or writing.

Why I’m not completely sure. I studied veterinary science and after concentrating on ‘small animal practice’ in the UK, my itchy feet took me abroad in 1997 on a three-month solo trip of part of the ancient Silk Road.

Visiting the ruins of Merv, in Turkmenistan, started my interest in the Roman campaign into Parthia in 53BC.  In 1998 I set out on a trip around the world which lasted for nearly three years. It was during this prolonged time abroad that I first had thoughts of writing military historical fiction.”

For more information on Ben’s background and books, visit

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