I have never been on a creative writing course. Though tempting, the MA’s at UEA and elsewhere have always seemed a touch overpriced: and anyway, I think I know what they will tell you. Inbetween the lectures on structure, first vs third person and reported speech, they hand everyone a package. “Break in case of emergency” the plastic pack says on it and inside is the get out of jail card that every authors need.


WH Smiths at every airport are literally held up by stocks of books where the Knights Templar invent cinema, defend the holy grail and are responsible for every major disaster in the last eight hundred years (natural or not). There is even a book which is so ridiculous that it posits the Knights Templar as the inventors of cinema in the fourteenth century, du to the Maltese Cross shape of the shutter wheel (Flicker by Theodore Roszak who I am sure curses Dan Brown every morning when he wakes).

So who were the Knights Templar? Legend has it that they were the Knights sent to find and then guard the Holy Grail, and that they have done this via fair means and foul. There is also much talk of links with the Mason’s, apron wearing and general conspiracy theories throughout the ages. This is all well and good but a legacy of such literary versatility should cannot just be based on cup protection. No there is a much more sinister explanation for the existence and continuing popularity about stories of the Knights Templar.

Consider how long the Knights Templar are supposed to be around, and compare that to the age of the history of Western written literature and scholarship. Is there any coincidence that Universities spring up in the thirteenth century, around about the same time as the Templars? Is there any surprise that one in three books use the history of the Knights Templar as some sort of plot point, or basis of academic research. No: this is no coincidence. Clearly the Knights Templar are a massive Macguffin in the history of literature and scholarly writing, on giant game of Mornington Crescent for those in the know. A get out of jail free card for writers, the Knights Templar are unknown because there is nothing to know about them. A conceit wrapped inside a mystery which ended up in The Da Vinci Code. And that’s not a nice place to end up.