I fell in love with historical fiction when I was about fourteen and read Mary Renault. My first book, about Richard I, was done in school exercise books only to be thrown away when I was old enough to know it for the rubbish it was. A couple of decades later, The Botticelli Trilogy came to be written and, in time, published. But I had to teach myself because, in those hoary old days, there was no such thing as creative writing courses. In teaching myself, I learnt how to teach. When I gave a course on historical fiction at Oxford University’s Summer School a couple of years ago, I believe it was the first of its kind.