Romulus Hillsborough


My books tell the story of the samurai revolution that spanned the third quarter of the 19th century (aka Meiji Restoration). The samurai revolution transformed Japan from a country of hundreds of feudal domains under the control of the Tokugawa Shogun, into a modern industrialized world power under the unifying rule of the Emperor. It is the historical era that Japanese writers generally refer to as the "Bakumatsu."

I grew up in Los Angeles but came of age in Tokyo where I lived for sixteen years after graduating from a California State University with a degree in English. Soon after arriving in Japan I immersed myself in the study of the Japanese language, and later, Japanese history and culture. Most of my reading focused on the Bakumatsu.

To get a closer feel for the Bakumatsu, I traveled to historical cities and towns around Japan where my samurai subjects lived and died and where the revolution unfolded. While writing my first book, "Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai," I worked as a writer for a popular weekly magazine in Tokyo and later as a contributing journalist to a number of other Japanese publications.

I published "Ryoma" in 1999, after moving back to California. It is the only biographical novel in English about Sakamoto Ryoma, the most charismatic leader of the samurai revolution. Since then I've written a series of books on the subject. "Samurai Revolution: The Dawn of Modern Japan Seen Through the Eyes of the Shogun's Last Samurai" is my most recent one. It is a comprehensive history of the Meiji Restoration from the perspective of one of its most important men, Katsu Kaishu. It is based largely on Kaishu's journals, memoirs, histories, and letters. "Samurai Revolution" and my recently completed "Samurai Assassins," which is not yet published, are the result of thirty years of research into this most important era in modern Japanese history.

So why do I write about a culture and history completely foreign to my own? Because it is spellbinding. And though it's a lot of hard work, hearing from my readers that they have become engrossed in my writing makes my work worthwhile.

Where to find Romulus Hillsborough online

Where to buy in print


This member has not published any books.