John D. Greenwood Launches First of Three "Singapore Saga" Novels

John D. Greenwood Launches First of Three “Singapore Saga” Novels

Professor and Deputy Executive Officer John D. Greenwood is celebrating the publication of the first of three volumes in his “sweeping saga of historical fiction that spans the first 100 years of Singapore”(
The launch tour for Forbidden Hill (Vol. 1), published by Monsoon Books, includes appearances at the National University of Singapore (where Greenwood has been a Lecturer and Visiting Fellow) and local book stores (e.g. Littered with Books, Jan. 20th).

In an article for The Scotsman, Greenwood recounts the underrecognized contributions of Colonel William Farquhar and other Scottish settlers, and describes how his novel “celebrates and draws inspiration from the lives of these early Scottish pioneers (and the main fictional protagonist of the novel, the merchant adventurer Ronnie Simpson, hails from Ardersier).”

The book’s publisher provides the following synopsis:

On 6 February 1819, Stamford Raffles, William Farquhar, Temenggong Abdul Rahman and Sultan Hussein signed a treaty that granted the British East India Company the right to establish a trading settlement on the sparsely populated island of Singapore.

Forbidden Hill (Singapore Saga, Vol. 1) is a meticulously researched and vividly imagined historical narrative that brings to life the stories of the early European, Malay, Chinese and Indian pioneers – the administrators, merchants, policemen, boatmen, coolies, concubines, slaves and secret society soldiers – whose vision and intrigues drive the rapid expansion of the port city in the early decades of the nineteenth century. While Raffles and Farquhar clash over the administration of the settlement, the Scottish merchant adventurer Ronnie Simpson and Englishwoman Sarah Hemmings find love and redemption as they battle an American duelist and Illanun pirates. As the ghosts of the rajahs of the ancient city of Singapura fade into the shadows of Forbidden Hill, the new settlers forge their linked destinies in the ‘emporium of the Eastern seas’.

Reviewer Tim Hannigan (author of Raffles and the British Invasion of Java) writes:

Brimming with memorable characters, this colourful reimagining of the early history of Singapore restores William Farquhar – long eclipsed by Raffles – to his rightful position at the forefront of the founding of the colonial settlement, and brings the intrigues, personality clashes and violence of the era vividly to life. describes Forbidden Hill as “a tale of intrigue and adventure, love and betrayal, bravery and tragedy”. The forthcoming second and third volumes of the Singapore Saga are entitled Chasing the Dragon and Hungry Ghosts.