About Me

Hi! I’m James.

A Magazine Food Editor, Author & Freelance Writer.

Born on the Isle of Wight, I studied language and literature at the University of Iceland and University of Malm̦ in Sweden. I now write as a freelancer, specialising in food, travel and history Рas well as working as a magazine food editor and creating my own books too (see below)

A metal basket containing traditional Isle of Wight Doughnuts

My Specialism: Historic Food

The things that really excite me are social history, different cuisines and foods with a fascinating backstory. I’m especially passionate about Britain, the Balkans and Turkey and exploring their culinary and multi-cultural histories. I’m also self-taught (albeit shakily) in Albanian, Turkish and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian which allows for deeper research and a better understanding of their varied cuisines.

Take a look at my blog to find out more (button below) and keep an eye out for some exciting developments on their way very soon…

Front cover of the book The Isle of Wight's Missing Chapter by James Rayner

The Isle of Wight’s Missing Chapter (2019)

My first book uncovers the forgotten Asian, African and Caribbean history of the Isle of Wight. It explores some of the Island’s overlooked minority residents, including Jamaican artists’ model Fanny Eaton and Sri Lankan cricketer Alfred Holsinger; and demonstrates how there have been mixed-race relationships on the Island for over two hundred years. It also takes a look at a number of the Island’s famous international visitors including Mahatma Gandhi, Haile Selassie, King Cetshwayo of the Zulus and Queen Emma of Hawaii.

  • Featured at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival 2019

First edition sold out

Front cover of the book Historic Isle of Wight Food by James Rayner

Historic Isle of Wight Food (2021)

This book takes a tour through the lost world of historic Isle of Wight food, exploring how the Island’s landscape, traditions and heritage combined to create a distinctive and varied food culture in centuries past. It reveals the stories behind some of the Island’s most iconic food products such as the spicy, plum-filled Isle of Wight doughnut and the panna cotta style dessert, junket, whilst also unearthing how wild garlic came to be named after the local Romani gypsy minority and how a biscuit with Island origins ended up being baked as far afield as Calcutta!

  • As seen in Style of Wight, Hampshire Life, Southsea Lifestyle, Isle of Wight Living and on countrylife.co.uk

Available from local retailers including Medina Books and The Garlic Farm, as well as online here and at Waterstones.com

Freelance Work

Books and blogs aside, I also do freelance writing, editing and marketing, as well as creating magazine articles for publications including Wightlife and Style of Wight. I’ve worked with all sorts of clients, both in the UK and abroad, across a range of different industries. If you have a project you might be looking for help with, please contact me here. Previous freelance clients have included: