It was a case of back to the future when David Hewitt came to write his new book – Joseph, 1917.

At Lancaster, David (Law, 1997, Bowland) spent time researching church court records, some of which were housed at the Lancashire Archives in Preston. Now, he returned there to examine the work of military service tribunals that sat during the First World War.

David’s book looks at the case of one man in particular, the Joseph of the title. He was a market gardener in Thornton, a small town on the Fylde coast from where the University’s Bailrigg campus can now be seen.

David’s early research was into medieval defamation law and it earned him a MPhil degree and was published in an academic journal. He admits, however, that his latest project was a lot more personal. “Joseph came from the same place as me and when I read about him and the people around him, I knew all the names. They were men with whose lives mine might easily have crossed.”

David continued to practise as a solicitor throughout his postgraduate studies and he credits his time at Lancaster with giving him a taste for academic research. “It confirmed what I had long suspected –  that there was something beyond legal practise,” he says, “something that could be just as fulfilling.”

David went on to gain a PhD in human rights law and to combine his legal practice with teaching law. But even though he has been published before, it’s his new book that excites him most. “I’m interested in interrogating our laws and our legal system,” he says, “and in their own way, each of my other books does just that. This one, though, is intended for a more general readership. It tells a very unusual story and it ends with quite a twist.”

Joseph, 1917 by David Hewitt is published by Matador at £8.99 www.troubador.co.uk/matador