Local Sussex author Alex Askaroff






According to his website, Alex Askaroff was born in the latter half of the 1950's in the busy bomb-blitzed seaside town of Eastbourne on the South Coast of England, in Sussex. At that time rubble still lay in places from the 11,000 or so buildings damaged by German planes. At Newhaven the old fort still had the empty shells and cartridges scattered around its gun emplacements.

He was a keen fisherman. One way of boosting his protein intake, where meat was a scarcity at home, competing with five brothers for food. One such haunt was the Newhaven Fort. When fishing from the concrete pier he used to explore the endless nests of twisting tunnels of the forgotten stronghold. The fort was heaven to a band of rebel boys protecting the shores of England. In fact this is now a tourist attraction, shored up and made relatively safe. But, in those days it was accessible. Victor also explored the venue on many occasions, when he lived in the nearby town of Seaford.

As Alex grew, his playground was the soft green undulating hills of the glorious South Downs and as a wild child he promised himself, that he would move only when the hills did. He was an Eastbourne lad born and bred and whilst he would wander far from home at times, his heart remained firmly fixed to his birthplace.


For Alex there was no finer point in any journey than when he turned back to head for home even when having a Forest Gump moment, a Crocodile Dundee walkabout, when he cycled from Eastbourne to the tip of Lands End in Cornwall before deciding that was far enough.


His father was a proud Russian who had heard the call for men after the terrible losses of the Second World War. Igor is said to have made it out of Russia by hiding in a coal train. Finally ending up in Austria, he traveled with his young Austrian partner to England to make his fortune. After the smog filled London streets Igor and Rosemarie headed for the clean seaside air that Eastbourne offered. Here he brought up six strapping lads who were the scourge of the neighborhood.


Alex had grown up with a passion for his adopted country, and growing into the English way of life, this became clear to him. It turned out that while Alex had a half French, half Russian Father. And a half English, half Austrian mother, his British roots on his grandmother's side led straight back to Anglo Saxon England.

His grandmother's family were a real surprise, when Alex took the time to trace back his family tree. It opened up a whole new world to the sewing machine engineer. Also, an avid collector and dealer of older machines. The revelations from research, explained to Alex, his deep-rooted affection for merry olde England. When it turned out that in part at least, his DNA was very much local. Indeed, human DNA is 99.9% the same, and 98% the same as Chimpanzees.

The Askaroff boys had a great-great grandfather who founded 'Law Debenture.' Stanley Carr Boulter, was a barrister who married Helen D'Oyly Carte of the Savoy Theatre and Savoy Hotel empire.

Their great grandfather, four times along, was the British Dramatist James Robinson Planché. The most prolific playwright of the Victorian era. His father was watchmaker, was a personal friend of King George III, famous for siding with the clockmaker famous for perfecting the marine chronometer: John Harrison.

The daughter of James Planché, Matilda Planché (later Mrs Henry Mackarness) was Alex's, great, great, great, grandmother, and a prolific author. Over 40 of her books are still in print. Big Al's favourite is, 'A Trap To Catch A Sunbeam.' A perfect title for a children's book.

Further back in time, the Askaroff family are related to Bishop, John Fielder Mackarness, the Bishop of Oxford. Who, coincidentally, died in Eastbourne in 1889.

further back still, there is a connection to Samuel Coleridge, the famous British poet. Who, through marriage to the Bellew family, had brushes through history with royalty.

The mixed heritage included on his mother's side, Austria's renowned painter Anton Faistauer, Alex's Great Uncle.









When Alex started to put pen to paper, who could have imagined what would that might lead to. All of those he contacted advised him that writing a book was a dangerous game. Lots of time and money invested and little reward. Out of the thousands who try only a handful make it. How wrong they all were. Alex reveals that his first book sold out so fast that he had hundreds of pre-paid orders for the second edition, before I could get them printed. And don't forget this was in the days when people had to write a letter, enclose a cheque and post it. Snail mail. If Alex could have bottled the printers face when he turned up asking for more, he could have sold it to clowns to scare children.

Of note, having collected so many stories, from so many people, for his books. Alex is finally a character in a true story, himself. Immortalized, as part of the discovery and saving of Herstmonceux Museum. A champion of the Sussex countryside, natural and the built environment.


“My books are about local people, local history, local folklore even ghost stories plus photos thrown in for good measure. Why so many people have bought them from all around the world I am still unsure. We have posted out over 2,000 copies to America. Last year I had a couple sitting on my doorstep from Canada! I have also had visitors from Australia and Mexico as well as local people. Its all a bit of a shock to someone like me." 

" Someone once described my books as a nostalgic trip down an old Sussex lane with cream tea thrown in. I loved that.”

“I know people say that my writing is very James Herriot you only have to read a few pages of mail I have put on my review page on my website to see." 


"After I finished Patches of Heaven and started to get such incredible feedback I went out and bought one of Herriot's books to see what they were talking about. It is to my shame that I had never read any of Alf Whight's great stories about Herriot. There are similarities but one is fiction and East Sussex is very different to the Yorkshire Dales and far more appealing to me."

"Down here we really are walking in the footsteps of history from pre-Roman times when the great forests of Anderida stretched across the southeast. When Neolithic man tied an antler to a stick and started clearing land for cattle and pigs. Thousands of years had gone by before William decided to have a go at running the country in 1066.”

“ East Sussex has got to be one of the best places on this planet for history. For example, we have a higher concentration of medieval churches in this area than any place on earth! Birling Gap is in the top ten most beautiful but endangered places on this planet."

" I have simply put a lot of this history and information into my books from great battles to anecdotes about Rudyard Kipling from people who actually knew him”

“Since my second book, Skylark Country I have been on BBC radio, appeared in countless features and talked till my voice was hoarse. In fact I have had so little time to write that the third in the trilogy, High Streets & Hedgerows, has taken ages to finish. I even turned down more radio shows and talks just to concentrate on writing.”

“Since I started writing I was asked by a publisher to write a travel guide, another even knocking on my door, I declined. I write stories that touch people’s hearts, which make them laugh and cry. They are all from the people I have met in my travels around this little piece of heaven in which I was born."

" I have to admit that the books have been great fun to write. The fact that they have been described as the most successful trilogy to come out of Sussex for a decade is just a nice pat on the back." 

"If I had the time I would do it all again. I ignored all the experts, probably through stubbornness and ignorance, but proved it was possible. The years have flown by since those early days on the road with my first tool kit. Now as I write in 2013 I am already working on book nine. The journey has been a great one, as exciting as any blockbuster, and the ride of my life."


Sewing runs through Alex Askaroff's life from his beginnings at his family's firm to his current life as an expert on and repairer of sewing machines and author of many books about his life as a travelling repairman.

NO ONE really knows the path that seems to be mapped out for them. When my sneaky father asked me what I would like to do I answered immediately, “I would like to be a doctor, a surgeon”. He thought for a moment, scratched his head and told me how perfect that was as I could operate on his sewing machines!

He saw that one of his six boys had a gift in his fingers which, with training, could keep his busy production lines running. So my path was set but few could have foretold the collapse of the British manufacturing industry which would, in turn, lead to me becoming a master craftsman, run my own business, start a publishing company, write books, become one of the few world experts in early sewing machine pioneers like Isaac Singer, and build, the number one website of its kind on the planet.

Where did this crazy journey start? I was born in the latter half of the 1950s in the busy bomb-blitzed seaside town of Eastbourne. It was the most bombed town on the south coast of England. Rubble still lay about, in places, from the 11,000 or so buildings damaged by Luftwaffe.

My father told me he was descended from a line of proud White Russians. By Dad’s accounts they were all sword swirling Cossacks. He had answered England’s call for men after the terrible losses of the Second World War. He was handed a ten-bob note at customs, patted on the back and told to, “Go forth and prosper.” That he did.

By the time I entered the world my parents were manufacturing baby goods from a factory in Eastbourne called Simplantex, trading under the name of Premiere Baby. It grew to be one of the largest businesses of its kind in Europe. For years I kept the sewing machinery running on the factory floor as well as all the outworkers that stretched from Hastings to Hove.

Eastbourne was a hive of industry. Many remember the huge Birds-Eye factory that ran 24 hours a day at what is now Tesco’s but there was also lots of fabric manufacturing from Jarvis Leather Goods to Pura Plastics, Lizannes, who made shower curtains by the thousands to Kitestlye and of course the famous Jaeger where a dress cost a month’s wages. There were many and sadly they are nearly all gone today.

Eventually, like so many British companies, Premiere Baby was priced out of the market by cheap imports and only a small part of the parent company survived.

After I left the family firm, I started Sussex Sewing Machines, which today looks after countless customers around the South East. My engineering diplomas and specialist training all those years earlier had stood me in good stead and my father’s words had proved right. I did not stumble across any Russian relatives riding bareback through the streets but I did have a living in my fingertips.

I am better known to thousands of households as the man who turns up to fix their sewing machines when they grind to a halt. An Alex Askaroff gold label on the machine is the clue. Few knew that for more than 20 years I had been collecting, writing down and publishing the fascinating history of our area mingled with our local folklore.

After my first few books, American publishers asked if they could publish my next works. I was gobsmacked. I said yes so fast I almost choked. I tried to appear calm and restrained but my brain was just shouting yes, yes, yes! They launched my books in 40 countries worldwide and they became some of the first ever E-books.

My last offering, Tales From The Coast, like my previous books, is a series of short true stories in which I try to bring both England’s history and her people vividly to life. It is full of more tales picked up from my customers, like the ghost of Vivien Leigh at Blackboys or Driscoll’s the Eastbourne dressmakers who worked for the Palace and spilt the beans on Queen Elizabeth’s pregnancy! Cockney royalty, war veterans, hop-pickers who picked while the Battle of Britain exploded above them, everyone from Salvador Dali to Picasso and William Duke of Normandy. In the meantime I shall carry on following my path and won’t be too surprised if I come across the odd Cossack or two.


You can contact Alex here:

United Kingdom

+44 1323 509874





















Jeffrey Archer - Kane & Abel

Isaac Asimov - I Robot

Peter Benchley - Jaws

Enid Blyton - The Famous Five

Charlotte Bronte - Wuthering Heights

Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code

Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights

Edgar Rice Burroughs - Tarzan

Lee Child - One Shot

Agatha Christie - Murder on the Nile

Tom Clancy - The Hunt for Red October

Arthur C Clarke - Space Odyssey

Michael Connelly - The Lincoln Lawyer

Michael Crichton - Jurassic Park

Clive Cussler - Raise the Titanic

Daniel Dafoe - Robinson Crusoe

Roald Dahl - The Big Friendly Giant

Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist



Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Homes

Alex Askaroff - Patches of Heaven

Alexander Dumas - Count Monte Christo

Ian Flemming - James Bond

John Grisham - The Pelican Brief

Charlaine Harris - Dead Until Dark

Stephen HawkingA Brief History of Time

Ernest HemingwayOld Man and the Sea

Amanda Hocking - My Blood Approves

Jameson Hunter - $Billion Dollar Whale

Stephen King - The Thing

Rudyard Kipling - The Jungle Book

Stieg Larson - Girl with Dragon Tattoo

D H Lawrence - Women in Love 

C S Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia

Jack LondonThe Sea Wolf

Robert Ludlum - Bourne Identity

Ian McEwan - Atonement

Alistair McLean - Bear Island

Herman Melville - Moby Dick



Kyotaro Nishimura - Terminal Murder

George Orwell - 1984

Beatrix Potter The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Arthur Ransome - Swallows & Amazons

Nora Roberts - Sweet Revenge

Harold RobbinsThe Carpetbaggers

J K Rowling - Harry Potter

William Shakespeare - Romeo & Juliet

Sidney Sheldon - The Naked Face 

Mary Shelley - Frankenstein

Wilbur SmithShout at the Devil

Bram Stoker - Dracula

Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island

Mark TwainAdventures Huckleberry Finn

Jules Verne - 20,000 Leagues U Sea

Edgar Wallace - King Kong 

H G Wells - War of the Worlds

Oscar Wilde - Picture of Dorian Gray

Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse









Anita Blake - Guilty Pleasures


Captain America


John Storm - Kulo Luna







The Incredible Hulk



The Fantastic Four

The Green Lantern

Tin Tin


X Men








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