Freelance Journalist Focus with Gillian Hovell

We delve in to the history of freelance archaeological journalist Gillian Hovell and find out how Penelope Keith and Sir Patrick Moore have left their impression on her work.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
My passion is history – especially history which helps us to make sense of today, and the relevance of Latin to our lives today. My articles are diverse though, ranging from anniversary pieces to archaeology for children and I have contracts for two books which will aim to bring archaeology and Latin into the limelight.

Where are we likely to see your work?
As every topic we ever encounter has a history behind it, I am happy to write for any magazine on any topic and explore its roots. Hopefully, you’ll see more series of articles in the future rather than one-offs, and a couple of books on the shelves. To keep abreast of my work, do take a peek at my website,

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Winning the national (which turned out to be international) British Library/RHS writing competition and listening to Penelope Keith reading it to an audience at the British Library was the best writing-career launch I could have hoped for. Of course, every piece creates its own memories but phoning BBC’s Sky at Night for a quote and being given 100 words from Sir Patrick Moore at his machine-gun speed has to be a highlight.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I spent five years at the BBC and miss the television days, so I would love to present a series on the archaeology of Britain.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Ideas are all around us – breaking news, anniversaries, “spin offs” from any research, a chance meeting or conversation … you name it, it can spark an idea! Being directly commissioned for a requested piece or, better still, a series, is always a welcome prompt for a new idea though!

How can PRs be useful to you?
It’s always good to hear of editors who are looking for particular stories related to my specialist interest areas of Latin, History and Archaeology.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email is the most accessible and convenient way of getting in touch (, or by phone (01423 7 71290) if an article is urgently needed.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Interruption, to be honest – unless there is a certainty of an article at the end of the day: the travel expenses and time are too dear to spend on empty hopes.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Journalism simply doesn’t pay the bills, so I teach Latin (to children and adults) in Fun Clubs and evening classes and the books I’m working on should help to plug the gap. Failing that, I wish field archaeology paid well enough to feed us, but writing is my great joy and I don’t intend to stop now!

If we gave you £1,000, how would you spend it?
I’d hunt down the latest great archaeology discovery in the world or I’d search out breathtaking archaeology that’s in danger and head out to report on it/them.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Books: Tom Holland’s Rubicon (history brought to life with style and zest) and a decent-sized Latin dictionary.

Magazines: British Archaeology and Current Archaeology keep me up to date for both the archaeology project I co-lead and the book I am writing, while Freelance Market News and The Author supplement my writing know-how.

Blogs: the updates on our archaeology antics on and on my own writing website
[lnk||_blank|Contact Gillian Hovell via the Freelance Journalist Directory]
[img|jpg|Gillian Hovell]

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