The Viney Agency


Robert GoodwinI was born and brought up in London. When I left school I went to Spain and I fell in love with the Spaniards, who always seemed to be laughing or smiling. A few years later, I fled a nascent career in M&A to Madrid and began teaching English to oil and construction executives, but ended up researching a cookery book in a remote Andalusian village. It eventually turned into A Taste of Spain (1994), published by Wayland, which focused on primary school children as the target audience.

I then studied at King’s College London, UCL, SOAS, and Granada and Seville Universities, which has left me with a marked Sevillian accent. The University of London awarded me a PhD for my thesis on Food, Art, and Society in Early Modern Spain (2001), supervised by B.W. Ife.

I regularly publish in peer-reviewed academic journals, present papers at conferences, and teach courses at University College London, where I'm a Research Fellow in the Spanish Department. I divide my time between London and Seville and recently collaborated with scholars at the Indigenous Peoples Law Program at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Cooking and food are a major hobby, and I enjoy travel, am a keen hiker, and have season-tickets at Stamford Bridge. My first major book, Crossing the Continent 1527-1540; the Story of the First Great African-American Explorer of the American South (HarperCollins US, 2008) was a biography of the first African to live much of his life and to die on what is now U.S. soil.

Spain: The Centre of the World 1519-1682 was published by Bloomsbury on both sides of the Atlantic in 2015. It's a narrative history of the cultural revolution known as the ‘Spanish Golden Age’ taking place at the heart of the vast Spanish empire, and which sets sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spain at the epicentre of the new western world.

His history of Spanish America, América, was published by Bloomsbury in 2019.


Book: Eleven Eleven by Paul Dowswell
At the conclusion of the American Revolution, half the modern United States was part of the vast Spanish Empire. The year after Columbus's great voyage of discovery, in 1492, he claimed Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for Spain. For the next three hundred years, thousands of proud Spanish conquistadors and their largely forgotten Mexican allies went in search of glory and riches from Florida to California. Many died, few triumphed. Some were cruel, some were curious, some were kind. Missionaries and priests yearned to harvest Indian souls for God through baptism and Christian teaching.

Theirs was a frontier world which Spain struggled to control in the face of Indian resistance and competition from France, Britain, and finally the United States. In the 1800s, Spain lost it all.

Goodwin tells this history through the lives of the people who made it happen and the literature and art with which they celebrated their successes and mourned their failures. He weaves an epic tapestry from these intimate biographies of explorers and conquerors, like Columbus and Coronado, but also lesser known characters, like the powerful Gálvez family who gave invaluable and largely forgotten support to the American Patriots during the Revolutionary War; the great Pueblo leader Popay; and Esteban, the first documented African American. Like characters in a great play or a novel, Goodwin's protagonists walk the stage of history with heroism and brio and much tragedy.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: América (Bloomsbury, 2019); Spain - The Centre of the World (Bloomsbury, UK & Bloomsbury USA, 2015); Crossing the Continent - The Story of the First Great African-American Explorer of the American South (HarperCollins, USA, 2008).