An Englishman abroad for most of his life, from 2003 Nigel Shakespear spent the best part of ten years in Romania, travelling throughout the country, much of that time working with the government on improving conditions for the Roma. His experience of Eastern Europe began back in the Cold War days when he was in the British Army. Later he spent some years in Russia in the 90s before working on European Union funded programmes around Eastern Europe.
When his last contract in Romania came to an end, he set off to meet people from outside the country who had chosen to make a life there long-term. The oral history style of Studs Terkel and Tony Parker and his own fascination for this intriguing country were the inspiration.
This took him on a haphazard and engaging trail through Bucharest, around Transylvania, to Maramures and the Banat. The ‘New Romanians’ he found helped him develop a deeper appreciation of the country and its people.