This page is about writer and former British ambassador Leigh Turner. You can read about my latest books by clicking here.
Recent history – and Ukraine
This website focuses on my writing. But since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, I have written several “explainers” and other posts on the Russia/Ukraine conflict. You can find them at the link in the previous sentence.
A short account of my life as a diplomat, including on Russia-Ukraine issues, is below (see “My diplomatic career”). My forthcoming book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Diplomacy, due to be published by Czernin Verlag in spring 2023, will contain much about Russia, Ukraine and other things.
Who is Leigh Turner? Well, I was conceived in Nigeria and spent the first three years of my life there. I’m the one on the left, my brother Stephen is holding the pram upright.
I lived in Exeter, in the south-west of England, from ages 3-6 (my father was teaching at the university there) and in Roma, Lesotho (ditto), from ages 6-12.
Here I’m the one with bare feet. In the middle Bernard and Reginald Tekateka, on the right Stephen. Bernard (second left) tragically died in a car crash in 1978. Reginald was later the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Bonn.
This pic shows us playing Monopoly, a key activity in those days.
For a glimpse of why Lesotho is special, see my post Ten reasons to like Lesotho, including numerous pictures (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site).
In 1969-70 I went to Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland. I am grinning in this picture (standing next to Stephen) because I am wearing one of my first ever pairs of long trousers. I still have this tie; the yellow dot on a blue background is a phoenix rising.
In 1970 my mum and dad moved to Manchester, where he was Professor at the University and she did a PhD and became a teacher of partially hearing children. I studied at Manchester Grammar School. In 1975 my bedroom looked like this. How many signs of international activity can you spot? I like this picture because it shows anyone can become a diplomat or ambassador.
In 1976 I went to Cambridge University and in 1979 started work. The following picture, taken in West Virginia in 1982, bears no resemblance to me today. Read more about my travels in the U.S., in Russia, or in my Leigh Turner Biography pages.
I began this writing blog in 2014 and have sought to fill it with material of interest. Please do explore and let me know in the “comments” section at the foot of each page if you’d like me to write about something else (or stop writing).
My Istanbul thriller PALLADIUM was published by US publisher Immortal Works in 2022. Click on the picture below to learn more.
My Berlin thriller BLOOD SUMMIT, was published in 2017. It has had good reviews, including from John Connolly and Edmund de Waal.
My black comedy feminist collection Seven Hotel Stories stars Ms N, the world’s most brilliant, unpredictable and deadly hotel manager and her beautiful but naive ally, Tatiana.
My satirical thriller ETERNAL LIFE explores the current obsession with longevity and how it might change the world.
All these books are available on Amazon – or you can order them at good bookshops.
My diplomatic career
From 1979 to 2021 I worked as a British diplomat and civil servant. My jobs were as follows:
1979-83: jobs in the Departments of the Environment and Transport, and HM Treasury, in London
1983-87: transfer to the Foreign Office and first posting as Second Secretary (Political, Press and Public Affairs) in the British Embassy in Vienna, Austria
1987-91: jobs in London dealing with European Community budgetary and monetary affairs; and with counter-terrorism
1991-95: Russian language training and posting to the British Embassy in Moscow as First Secretary (Economic)
1995-98: work in London on the transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997
1998-2002: posted to the British Embassy in Bonn, then Berlin, as Counsellor (EU and Economic)
2002-2006: four year career break to look after the children in Berlin. I also did travel writing for the Financial Times, and wrote novels
2006-8: Director (Overseas Territories) in London
2008-12: British Ambassador to Ukraine
2012-16: Consul-General and Director General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, South Caucasus and Central Asia in Istanbul. I returned to London for a month in 2014 as joint head of the Foreign Office Crisis Unit during the Russian occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
With Deep Purple in Vienna, 2017
2016-21: British Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the International Organisations in Vienna
My book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Diplomacy, due out in spring 2023, will discuss my diplomatic career and what I learned. I hope it will become required reading for diplomats and everyone interested in diplomacy – or life in general.
Leigh Turner: more info
You can read more about me, including my taste in music, in my post Sixty Seconds with Leigh Turner.
Listen to this one-hour interview with me on “Free Radio Innsbruck” (in English, with a few words of German), focused on Blood Summit, including four readings, in October 2019.