Robin Saikia is a British travel writer and historian based in London. He was educated at Winchester College and Merton College, Oxford and grew up in England, Zambia and India. He is a keen cook, an adventurous traveller, a regular concert-goer and an accomplished classical pianist. He has a regularly updated website and an online diary. He lives in Hampstead and is married to the actress Vicki Carpenter. He has three sons by a previous marriage, Alexander, Sebastian and Inigo. In September 2011 he was appointed writer-in-residence at the Society Club in Soho, London. This year saw the publication by Blue Guides of Robin's latest book, The Venice Lido, the first ever full-length historical and cultural guide to Venice's glamorous beach resort, from its early days as a primitive settlement until its heyday as the setting for Death in Venice and as the venue for the Venice Film Festival. The book charts the antics of many of the more disreputable visitors, including Byron and Oswald Mosley, but also celebrates the natural beauties of the Lido and its symbolic role as the outer boundary of the Serenissima. Robin is a regular visitor to Venice and a keen supporter of the Dingo cat sanctuary on the Lido. He enjoys an ongoing collaboration with the Italian photographer Marco Secchi. In August 2011 they visited the haunted island of Poveglia in the Venice lagoon and made a soon to be released photo documentary. This year Robin invented a lethal, vodka-based cocktail, Death in Venice, which is now available on the menu of the Grand Hotel Excelsior on the Lido. It contains strawberry aquavit, an allusion to Von Aschenbach's fatal snack. It is made with Ciroc vodka in honour of the sirocco, the scorching Saharan wind that ravages the Mediterranean and that features in Mann's novella.
Robin is the author of Blue Guide Hay-on-Wye, a historical and cultural exploration of the Anglo-Welsh border town famous for its self-crowned king, Richard Booth, for its book dealers, and as the venue of the annual Guardian Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts. Other works for Blue Guides include the Blue Guide Italy Food Companion and the Blue Guide Literary Companion to London. Further works include The Horn Book: A Victorian Sex Manual (Saucy Book Company, 2008); Munich: A Third Reich Tourist Guide (Foxley Books, 2008); The Red Book: The Membership List of The Right Club, 1939 (Foxley Books, 2010) in which Robin analyses the activities of Captain Archibald Maule Ramsay's 'Right Club', a right wing group operating in London shortly before the Second World War.
PRAISE FOR THE VENICE LIDO
John Julius Norwich: I have enjoyed it hugely - and it has taught me lots that I didn't know.
The Spectator: Warmth, charm and eccentric scholarship
Guardian: Smashing. . .so well brought off I expected sand to sift from its pages while I was reading.
Fictional Cities: This book will broaden your horizons