Duncan Watt












The Wallace Boys Books Series

was published by:

Graham Brash Publishing

Graham Brash Publishers (Singapore)
Tel:  (+65) 6262 4843
Fax: (+65) 6262 1519


Duncan Watt:

Tel:(+65) 6469 3893


Other Activities:

School Visits


Private Tuition





Following his schooling in South Africa, where he took part in numerous stage productions, Duncan went to England to study acting - and he appeared in repertory in the Channel Islands in the hit Sandy Wilson musical, The Boy Friend. However, a combination of feeling that he ‘wouldn't ever really make it’ in the theatre and the 1962/1963 winter persuaded him to return to Africa where he joined the Teachers’ College in Bulawayo. This was followed by three and a half years teaching at a large boys’ school in Mongu, in Barotseland in Zambia.


Duncan recalls many trips round Barotseland by boat on the Zambezi and Land Rover trips across the Barotse Plain. All this has been absorbed into his stories, with Muyunda, one of Duncan’s main characters, actually attending the school Duncan taught at and taking part in the colourful Kuomboka Ceremony, which Duncan witnessed several times.


Duncan’s publicity photos for the theatre

Crossing the Barotse Plain

Nalikwanda setting off


In this ceremony, the people move in their canoes and barges from their flooded homes to the dry land in a yearly ritual, led by the Litunga, the Paramout Chief, dressed in the full regalia of a Victorian British ambassador's uniform, in his own state barge, Nalikwanda.


(While teaching at Kambule Secondary School, Duncan started his writing by producing two books published by Oxford University Press; books in easy English for school students - these books have now been expanded into Kidnapped in the Kafue and Crash in the Caprivi in the present Wallace Boys series.)







An urge to continue travelling (Duncan had by this time already been to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji as a child by ship, and then round much of Africa, and an exciting journey through France’s canal system on a motor yacht called the St Valery, which appears in two of his books), and, after leaving Zambia, he travelled for nearly two years. He studied sailing and navigation, but he never achieved his ambition of sailing round the world! He instead travelled from the UK to Australia on the overland trail, by bus, by train and by hitchhiking through all the countries of North Africa, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan into Pakistan, India and Ceylon.

Duncan’s father was by this time living in Australia and so, after a visit to him, Duncan settled in Papua New Guinea for three years, teaching at an island school near Madang. Duncan’s travels had also taken him to places like Vietnam (during the American war) and Cambodia (before the fighting). Following his time in PNG, Duncan island-hopped across the Pacific, ending up in the United States and then the UK again, where he taught at a little prep school in Surrey for a year.

But the travel bug still bit, and Duncan began teaching English in Tokyo, before coming to live and work in Singapore which he had first visited in 1969 as a back-packer, promising himself then that this was where he wanted to settle. Since 1976, Duncan has lived in Singapore, now as a Permanent Resident. He started by teaching at a primary school here. He subsequently joined the British Council; at about the same time, he began reading the news with the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, later the Television Corporation of Singapore, now MediaCorp. He appeared regularly ‘on the box’ until 1998 and is still recognized in the street.

And not only recognized in Singapore; he was amazed when, on one of his visits to the Island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, where his mother lived, someone came up to him in the capital, Jamestown: “Aren’t you Duncan Watt, the newsreader in Singapore?” It wasn’t quite as surprising as one might suppose. This occurred during the Falklands War when the ship, the RMS St Helena, had been requisitioned for carrying war supplies. A crew of St Helenians had come to Singapore to pick up her replacement the cruise ship, the Centaur, and had stayed in Singapore for several weeks. Even so, it was still quite amazing to be recognized nearly half the world away!


St Helena’s famous Jacob’s Ladder. There are 699 steps and each step is 27 cm, used on the book cover of Skulduggery in the South Atlantic.


Naturally, Duncan’s visits to St Helena have found their way into a couple of his books (notably Skulduggery in the South Atlantic), and his books have also been set in South-East Asia, having ‘got the African books out of his system’! He has written three books set in the Middle East, Rebels Across the Sea I, II and III. He went hiking in Austria to research a story called Assignment in the Alps and its sequels Traitors in the Tyrol and The Monks of Montafon. He then researched the next, set in the South Indian Ocean - South from the Seychelles

Apart from writing and doing some programmes on radio in the past, Duncan frequently visited schools in Singapore giving talks on animal conservation, a subject that is very close to his heart; some of his royalties go to the Kafue National Park, Survival International and the Nature Societies of both Singapore and Malaysia.

Where possible, he tries to visit the locations of these informational-adventure children’s books.

Before writing The Treasure of the Tiger, for example, he took up scuba-diving; and he visited Taman Negara, Malaysia’s wonderful rain forest reserve, before starting The Pagodas of Pahang, where one thing he says he had to do was experience leeches crawling all over him. This has translated into a rather gruesome scene with Bruce Wallace lying face down in a stinking rafflesia plant, covered in leeches and an AK-47 pointing at the back of his head!




Some of Duncan’s hobbies and interests include: travelling (of course!), scuba-diving, swimming, hiking, jogging, the theatre, music (the classics, musicals and operettas - Ivor Novello, Sigmund Romberg and Gilbert & Sullivan) and reading.

Duncan particularly likes reading history (both fact and fiction), detective stories and, as one would expect, adventure novels.

Some of those who have influenced his own books are writers like Alistair MacLean, Geoffrey Jenkins, Victor Canning, Mary Stewart, John Buchan, Gavin Lyall, Desmond Bagley, Eric Ambler, Geoffrey Household, Hammond Innes and Jack Higgins. The works of Capt. W.E. Johns (of Biggles fame), Enid Blyton, Willard Price, Franklin W. Dixon (The Hardy Boys), H. Rider Haggard and Percy F. Westerman also have all played their part in shaping Duncan’s books in varying degrees.


Copyright 2013. Duncan Watt. All rights reserved.


Graham Brash Publishers in Singapore are well-known for their wide collection of works on Asia, particularly reprints of early books. To contact them directly to find out about what they produce, click here