These are questions I quite often get asked:
What's your next book?
It's called Domina and it's a history of the Julio-Claudian era in Roman history but through the empresses not the emperors. The whole dynasty passed through the female line so it only seems appropriate to look at it that way. Yale University Press will publish it in late 2018 or early 2019.
Where does your name come from?
It’s a French name going back to the Middle Ages. In around 1440 Bertrand Huchet married one Jeanne, dame de la Bédoyère. Bédoyère was a fiefdom in France. Bertrand took the title, and became seigneur [Lord of the Manor] de la Bédoyère. Eventually the title was absorbed into the name, and the surname became Huchet de la Bédoyère, which is what my full surname is. There was one famous de la Bédoyère: Charles. He was Napoleon’s aide-de-camp at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and was executed afterwards. I am NOT descended from him. His father was the first cousin of one of my ancestors. My grandfather was Michael de la Bédoyère (1900-73). He was editor of The Catholic Herald for around thirty years, and author of a number of biographical and theological works. I’ve only been to France once (1986), not including the 1999 Time Team Spitfire dig and the 2004 D-Day dig.
My mother is 75% Glaswegian and 25% English (West Midlands), though I only discovered the English component recently. Richard Gough, former captain of Rangers and Scotland, is my second cousin (check the link – he looks surprisingly like me). My mother and his father grew up together in Glasgow in the 1930s and 40s. Many of my Scottish relatives now live in Australia.
How do you pronounce your name?
It’s pronounced BED-WHY-AIR, and Guy is English (rhymes with pie), not the French Guy (rhyme with knee).
How did you get interested in archaeology?
My father gave me a Roman coin when I was about 11 years old. I remember spending the evening transfixed at the thought of all the people that must have handled it, and all the things that had happened since it was made. I still have it.
Are you a historian or an archaeologist?
I have degrees in History and Archaeology. But I’m primarily a historian. Most of my books about the Roman world are biased to its history, the literary sources and other written records. These give us the story. Archaeology, if you like, provides the set-dressing. One of my principal interests is the seventeenth-century diarist John Evelyn and his relationship with Samuel Pepys, his best friend. In 1997 I published their complete correspondence in Particular Friends. The Correspondence of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn (Boydell), and of all the books I have written it was the most satisfying. I worked on the original manuscripts in London, Oxford, and at various other libraries, transcribing and annotating the texts and providing a full historical and biographical introduction.
What's your favourite historical topic?
That changes but for several years I've been fascinated by the 1629 shipwreck of the Batavia off the west coast of Australia on the Abrolhos Islands. I've visited the islands and also the remains of the ship in Fremantle. It's an extraordinary story of how people can behave under pressure and poor leadership. This is a film I shot flying over the wreck site, and also visiting a replica of the ship in Holland: Batavia flypast and tour