Susan’s Brother

In 1957, at the age of 9, Susan’s brother was in an adult unit – a unit treating very seriously ill mental patients. In 1985, Susan’s brother took delivery of an Aston Martin DBS V8, after designing the production prototype of Electronic Master Mind.

The intervening 28 years hold a remarkable story about a man who grew and prospered as a successful engineering professional, but started out as a dyslexic ‘slow starter’, emotionally neglected and unwanted by his mother, and bullied both at home and in school.

Set in a Middle England which is recovering from the war, damaged buildings and infrastructure have to be repaired, but also damage people and damaged lives.

This is based on a true history, a history that gives hope, a history that demonstrates how simple acts of kindness by friends and neighbours can help someone overcome tremendous handicaps, identity denial and family abuse to become successful.

There is also a message about those who mistreat children and continue that mistreatment into adulthood with their own children, and also about those in the extended family who turn a blind eye out of a misplaced sense of family loyalty.

This book has some dark moments, but it is a book written to uplift. As it was related to James, by Susan’s brother:

“I want this book to show that ordinary people, doing ordinary things, can help someone get through the most appalling difficulties. If it wasn’t for the Tolhursts, I wouldn’t be here today”.

There are many ex-pupils who had a wide range of experiences – good and bad – at one of the schools that Susan’s Brother attended. Their reminiscences can be read on the Susan’s Brother website/blog at Epping House Special School.


New cover May2015

Available now!

Kindle Version
ePub / iTunes formats

Paperback version available from all good bookstores and Amazon

 Format: Paperback.


ISBN: 978-0-9568426-5-7

Available April 2012

Author’s Notes

This is story of a boy growing up in a Middle England just starting to recover from the Second World War.

People are damaged and Great Britain is being rebuilt. It has been related by a 63 years old man, recalling his damaged childhood, a childhood which was far from ideal.

It is essentially factual, though some names have been changed and some memories may not be perfect; nevertheless the core story is an accurate and salutary, albeit stylised, biography.

The subject (Susan’s brother) wanted to relate the essence of his formative years, and it has been a very emotional experience both for him and the author. It has caused ripples within his family and has re-defined his relationship with his son.

From the outset, we set out to make this non judgemental. Being judgemental would be inappropriate – definitions under the broad heading of child abuse have been extended and refined in the last sixty years. Likewise, childcare standards and practise have changed, both for parents and the relevant professions. These changes have been significant, and contemporary (that is, 21st Century) definitions are included by way of comparison. Was his treatment fair and reasonable, even half a century ago? We draw no conclusions here.

He was also very insistent that this be an uplifting delivery for readers. Certainly, he is a successful professional engineer, having overcome the considerable obstacles he has faced. He has been firm in his assertion that overcoming his difficulties was possible as a result of small, everyday kindnesses that certain people had shown him. How many of us remember the first time that someone enquired after our well-being? He does. There are several such instances in the narrative, with a strong underlying implication for us all: small kindnesses add up, and what may seem to us as everyday insignificant acts and favours – even words – can have profound and cumulative effects. Unfortunately, the converse is also true.

Besides these rare kindnesses, aspects of his schooling were very important in helping him surmount his difficulties, and hopefully, these will become apparent as his early life unfolds. In his story, he is referred to as Susan’s Brother. When I first met him at the start of this journey, almost the first words he said to me were “the book will be called Susan’s Brother”. You, the reader, should be led to the reason by the writer’s craft, but he has asked that I explain why, before we set out to draw you into his early life.

He was defined by his sister, Susan. As a boy, his mother always introduced him to other people as ‘Susan’s brother’, and when speaking to other people, she never referred to him by his given name.

Susan’s brother.

Available now!

Kindle Version
ePub / iTunes formats

Paperback version available from all good bookstores and Amazon