ALAN BIGNELL was born in Tonbridge in Kent quite a long time ago! After several false starts, he joined the Kent Messenger newspaper group in 1957 and was the reporter for the Faversham local area for about nine years before being transferred to the company’s Head Office in Maidstone in 1966 to be the Mid Kent edition Chief Reporter. Two years later he was News Editor and a year after that became a feature writer specialising in local government coverage. For 26 years he wrote a weekly light-hearted comment column and other columns for shorter periods. During that time and continuing into retirement he published a number of books, including Kent Villages, Hopping Down in Kent, and Kent Lore (all Robt Hale); The Kent Village Book, Tales of Old Kent (first published in 1986 and still selling steadily after several re-prints), Kent Headlines, Kent Shipwrecks, Kent Murders (all Countryside Books); Kent – A Place in History (Kent County Council Arts and Libraries); The Lady Baillie Era (Leeds Castle Foundation); Chatham and the Medway Towns (Frith’s Books); Maidstone (Frith’s Books/Ottakar); Kent Village Signs, I and II (AL Publications).
More recently, in semi-retirement in the Maidstone satellite village of Barming, he has turned to light verse and several of his poems have been published, although he is adamant that he is not so much a poet as a story-teller who uses light verse as an entertaining alternative to prose.
It is more than a decade since his last book was published, due to domestic responsibilities, now ended, and OUR KENT is the realisation of a long-held aspiration to experience the role of publisher as well as writer. He admits it will probably be a one-off!
“The subject-matter is serious in its concern to keep alive these old stories – and to inject a new one here and there! – but the treatment is not at all solemn. I had fun writing OUR KENT; I hope readers will find it fun, too.”