Author and passionate equestrian Jeremy James died in Shropshire on 25 September having bravely endured a long illness.
Born in Kenya in 1949, educated at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, and the University of Wales, Jeremy James spent his early life working with horses and cattle in Africa and the Middle East.
In 1987 he wrote his first book, Saddletramp, which described his journey on horseback from Turkey to his home in Wales. Three years later, he rode through eastern Europe during the collapse of communism and wrote Vagabond about the experience. Throughout the early 1990s he was Turkish correspondent for several broadsheets and magazines, and in 1992 he was commissioned by the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH, now World Horse Welfare) to write its story in Debt of Honour. He went on to manage the Bosnian State Stud. He was a member of the Long Riders Guild.
During the late 1990s he worked as a senior consultant for the ILPH on the campaign against long-distance transport of live horses for slaughter, which brought him into contact with many of the disappearing horse breeds of Eurasia.
His writing career reached its zenith with The Byerley Turk, based on the extraordinary life of chance and fate of this remarkable horse, who became the first foundation sire of the thoroughbred line. Jeremy’s research into this book took him to Turkey, where the foal was born, to the site of the Siege of Buda in 1686, where the war horse was seized by Captain Robert Byerley and ridden back to England. And to Northern Ireland where the horse is recorded as fighting in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, having won the King’s Plate at Down Royal races. The story ends in 1703 when the Byerley Turk, retired to a life of stud in Yorkshire, dies at the age of 25. Jeremy’s masterpiece has been printed in many editions, translated into Turkish and Slovakian, and found fame on both sides of the Atlantic.
Flamboyant at times, but also happy in his own company, Jeremy loved people, horses and dogs, wine and old friendships. He will be missed.
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