The Tartan of Thyme series is written by 'Panama Oxridge', a pseudonym. When questioned why they used this pen name the author said:

'Using a pseudonym was partly to distance myself from my previous picture-book persona – partly because (like Justin), I’ve never liked my name – but mostly because I think it helps the reader connect with the story.'

I did some research and found that the author used to write children's picture books - explaining the 'previous picture-book persona'.

However, it says at the back of the first book of the series, Justin Thyme, that there is a clue to the author's real name hidden in the book. I didn't find it of course.

So that got me wondering, was this clue ever found? Has the author's identity been discovered?


2 Answers 2


Panama Oxridge is Paul Adshead.

I don't know whether any clues were hidden in the Thyme books themselves, but the website for the series contains an elaborate puzzle whose solution is the author's real name. As mentioned by @Shokhet in comments, you can see the start of the trail here:

Start by running your cursor over the Thyme clan badge in the bottom left-hand corner of 47 web pages. Each one will reveal a different number and a letter of the alphabet. Simply write the letters in numerical order to discover your first clue.

From here I started on a long journey through the website, collecting 47 different links with alphanumeric codes which finally led me to this page and the next level of the puzzle. At that point, I decided that this would get solved more quickly as a group effort, and so I posted the whole thing to the wonderful Puzzling SE, where @Sp3000 very competently finished off the solution.

You can read through the answers on Puzzling for the full derivation of the solution, but it's easy to check by just going to this page and submitting paul and adshead into the two boxes, which takes you to a page where the first letter of each sentence spells out PAUL ADSHEAD.


His name does appear in the book, if you read the last line of the inside back dust jacket of the hardback edition, which begins with the words:

Who is Panama Oxridge?

And ends with the words `poor lad's head!'

This sounds like 'Paul Adshead'. You'd probably need to know that was his name in order to see it though.

Further to the above information regarding the Justin Thyme website, the name Paul Adshead is also spelt out by the playing cards next to the joker on the Thyme clock, found in the library.

The code is explained on page 257 of the book; each suit represents a different letter, so the ace and 6 of hearts stand for P, the 16th letter of the alphabet, the ace of spades stands for A, the 1st letter of the alphabet, and so on.

  • 3
    Welcome to Literature! Please could you edit this answer to mention which edition of the book you have, in case these words don't appear in all editions (e.g. paperback editions without dust jackets)?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 13:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.