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Robert Southam's artistic journey began at an early age. He started piano lessons in Germany when he was five or six. At seven, he was discovered at two in the morning, pen in hand, having just been rescued by seaplane from a remote and unmapped corner of Labrador in Canada, completing a thousand-word description of his experience, which was later published; so began his addiction to writing - and to adventure, both physical and creative.


At Oxford Robert read Modern Languages (French and Russian) and acted with OUDS. He is bilingual in English and French and fluent in Spanish.

Piano lessons continued in London, given by his aunt, Iris Du Pré, while her eight-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, received her weekly cello lesson in the next room. Jacqueline devoted her life to music and went on to become one of the world's great cellists. Robert was given a more general education but studied the piano regularly between the ages of eight and eighteen with the outstanding pianist and teacher, Hilda Bor, and continued to meet her from time to time for lessons and advice until the end of her life in 1993. He won the piano and singing prizes every term at the school he attended between the ages of nine and thirteen, composed pieces for the orchestra at his secondary school and played the Bach D Minor Concerto with the Oxford University Orchestra. Meanwhile, the stories he wrote were published in a young writers' literary magazine, and were rewarded with a creative writing prize.

At the same time Robert's acting skills were developing fast. He played leading parts in school plays, staged his own productions and spent summer vacations acting with the National Youth Theatre. His Jessica in The Merchant of Venice, given at fourteen before his voice broke, was described by a reviewer as 'the best performance to be seen in this city during the last decade… he even succeeded, in the escape from Shylock's house, in looking like a girl disguised as a boy'.

At eighteen, between school and university, Robert taught himself the technique of film-making, bought a 16mm camera, wrote a script and made The Wild Orchid, a forty-five-minute film that won first prize at the Glasgow International Short Film Festival. This was followed by One Summer's Day. Both films were shown on the arts cinema circuit, including the National Film Theatre in London.

Robert's recent writing and theatre work, as well as his plans for future films, have focused on the poverty and exploitation that blight Africa, Latin America and many parts of Asia. He has visited the shanty-towns of Lima in Peru and stayed with indigenous families living well below the poverty line in Bolivia, Peru and Chile. The European colonization of the world has much to answer for, he believes. He feels that through the arts - books, films, paintings, photos - readers and spectators can not only find out the facts but also experience viscerally what it means to be starving and dehydrated and with no hope of food or water, ill without a doctor, to have the little land you own seized from you by unscrupulous governments and multi-nationals. He shares the income from his books and theatre work with humanitarian projects in Africa, the Middle East and South America.

When work is done, Robert enjoys the company of friends, at table or on long walks through fine scenery.

After university Robert trained as an actor and spent a decade working in rep, and for BBC Radio, in companies that included John Nettles, Tim Piggott-Smith, Stephanie Cole and (already in her nineties) Dame Sybil Thorndike. Robert SouthamFor details see Theatre. He then formed his own company, Theatre from Oxford, and began touring some of the best English, Irish, American and South African plays, with first-class actors and actresses, through eight European countries. His company quickly gained a reputation for excellence. For more on Theatre from Oxford go to www.fmoxford.co.uk

As a teacher, Robert has received many commendations from pupils and colleagues. For more than a decade he ran his own summer school at Oxford University: young actors and actresses, musicians, dancers, film-makers and painters came from all over Europe, from North Africa, North America and the Far East to study with Robert and his colleagues. He spent a year as Profesor Visitante at the University of Valladolid in Spain. He has given workshops on Shakespeare, the Miracle Plays, Shaw, Wilde and Arthur Miller at nearly fifty theatres, schools and universities throughout Europe and in the Canary Islands: Madrid, Barcelona, Salamanca, Segovia, Mérida, Tenerife, Livorno, Milan, Turin, Brussels, Paris, Evreux, Bordeaux etc. For more details go to www.fmoxford.co.uk

During the past few years Robert's writing has taken an increasingly important place. His first novel, Aïsha's Jihad, was published several years ago by fm Books. His second, The Snake and the Condor, a love story set in South America, was published in June 2015 by John Hunt Publishing under the Roundfire imprint; it has already received enthusiastic pre-publication reviews. For details see Books.