Former Dunstable bookshop owner pens book based on Bible's gospels
Many Dunstable people fondly remember the Book Castle bookshop and its genial owner Paul Bowes.
Now the former publisher has turned author and written his own book – They were there when...
He has written imaginative first-person accounts of more than three dozen characters from the Bible’s four gospels, reliving their lives and their encounters with Jesus.
He’s included everyone from Mary to Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot and Simon of Cyrene – as well as several devoted but confused disciples along the way.
Paul says: “My wife Ann was a reader at the Priory and we left Dunstable for her to run three parishes in Yorkshire.
"I wrote various articles for the church magazine and when we came back south after 17 years to be nearer family, I started writing for my own interest during lockdown.”
The original impetus came from listening to a sermon and idly wondering what it would have been like to be there when Jesus was alive.
Paul’s initial musing was about a shepherd, which he wrote in the first person.
This was followed by many more, plus parables in limerick form and all illustrated by vignette engravings.
"I realised I had enough for a whole book,” he smiles. “I had all the expertise - editing, publishing, etc - and decided with my 75th birthday approaching, I should do one of my own.”
And it appears his Biblical collection has chimed with many readers.
Cambridge graduate Paul worked for Collins before moving to Dunstable with his wife and five children and opening the Book Castle.
"I didn’t want to spend my life commuting to London,” he says simply.
He soon realised there were very few books about Bedfordshire and set about correcting the situation, leaving a lasting legacy of local interest titles for Beds, Bucks and Herts, penned by more than 100 authors.
The Book Castle opened in 1980 and closed in 2008. Paul says it was lovely to see some of the little children who were there at the beginning come back with their own offspring.
He now lives in Royston and is still president of the History Society.
> They were there when… by Paul Bowes, £9.99 from bookshops or Amazon.