Ruskin Park: Sylvia, Me and the BBC (paperback)


Can we ever really know the truth about our parents? From the journalist, podcaster and tweeter about rescue dog #SophiefromRomania, a compelling memoir in search of the truth behind his isolated childhood and absent father.

Ruskin Park is so much more than a memoir. It is a tribute to an individual woman and a whole generation and class.’

Justin Webb, The Sunday Times
SKU: 9781914613616 Categories: ,

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‘For Rory, to read and think about – in the hope it will help him to understand how it really was.’

After an isolated childhood of silence and secrets, Rory Cellan-Jones (broadcaster, Parkinson’s podcaster and Sophie-the-rescue-dog owner) began a journey of discovery. Although he knew he was the child of a love affair between colleagues at the BBC, it wasn’t until his mother died and left him a file labelled ‘For Rory’ that he understood the true scandal and sadness of his parents’ relationship, and the reasons for his fatherless upbringing.

A compelling, tender and emotive memoir of his difficult but ultimately heroic mother, Ruskin Park is also a tribute to an entire generation of women who were never given the chance to realise their potential.

‘A captivating family detective story – and a poignant social history of Britain.’



‘I loved this highly evocative, unpretentious memoir. It’s a small-scale BBC drama in itself. Against the backdrop of an office love affair kindled at Television Centre, a baby conceived during a stolen weekend at the Three Crowns in Angmering-on-Sea, and a childhood of fish fingers prepared by a tired working mother in a south London council flat, it paints a Larkin-esque picture of the arc of one 20th-century woman’s life, from passionate, ambitious and hopeful to lonely, depressed, nostalgic and “always a pain at Christmas”.’

The Times


Ruskin Park is Rory Cellan-Jones’s touching tribute to both his parents, but particularly to the mother he came to know more fully from the letters she left behind.’

Book of the Week, Daily Mail


‘Almost unbearably moving, but never sentimental. A fascinating, intensely personal story, courageously told with unflinching honesty.’

Adrian Chiles


‘The result is this enthralling memoir of his captivating, indomitable mother; his talented and ambitious father; and of the golden era of BBC drama and the glamorous milieu that was 1950s television.’

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller


‘Riveting, poignant.’



Read an extract.

Also available in audio, ebook and hardback.