New series, summer 2018, opens at Erddig Hall in North Wales, once home to the Yorkes – a family famously kind to their servants. Or were they? I tell the story of ‘thief cook’ Ellen Penketh, jailed in 1907 for allegedly stealing £500 from her insecure mistress Louisa Yorke. Watch clip…
New Radio Gorgeous interview with Josephine Pembroke, talking twitchers (why are hardcore birders almost always men?), the mysterious workings of the RSPB (why wouldn’t they let me revisit their archives?) and Mrs Pankhurst’s penchant for fashion (why so many feathered hats?). Listen here…
Oldie Literary Lunch, Ilkley Literature Festival, Yorkshire
THURSDAY 4 OCTOBER. A three course lunch, three speakers, and ten minutes for each. It’s going to be pithy, revelatory and entertaining. I’m the only woman – standing alongside two veteran Labour Politicians, Austin Mitchell and Alan Johnson.
Knutsford Festival, Cheshire. Victorian Methodist Church venue.
FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER. A tale of two Manchester heroines, one lionised, the other all but forgotten. Step forward Emily Williamson, co-founder of the Society for the Protection of Birds.
V&A lunchtime lecture, Fashioned from Nature
WEDNESDAY 17 OCTOBER. Birds and fashion, ethics and aesthetics. How a small group of Victorian women took on the mighty plumage trade – and won.
The Bloomsbury Festival: Activists and Architects of Change
SATURDAY 20 OCTOBER. London House, Goodenough College.
Suffragettes, feathered hats and the plumage fight. Why did the magnificently hatted Mrs Pankhurst cross swords with Mrs Lemon?
The Watts Gallery, Compton, near Guildford, Surrey
WEDNESDAY 21 NOVEMBER, 7-8pm. Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather is a story rooted in Surrey: the women who fought to save the birds, and the women who fought for (and against) the vote, crossed swords in and around the Surrey North Downs. Fireworks ensued.
Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey
‘The Road to the Vote’: Grand Finale community day
SATURDAY 24 NOVEMBER, 10am-3.30pm (my talk, 12pm); free entry.
Etta Lemon, ‘dragon’ of Redhill, lady mayoress of Reigate and prime mover behind the RSPB was also a leading light in the Anti Suffrage Women’s League. Should we be shocked – or was this entirely compatible with her conservative beliefs? The Antis form a neglected, fascinating and important part of the suffrage story.
Elizabeth Gaskell House, Manchester.
WEDNESDAY 28 NOVEMBER, 2-2.45pm. An illustrated talk about the pioneering female founders of the RSPB – including rare images, a cast of invisible characters, and a surprising political secret. Discover Manchester’s leading role in saving the birds.
I’ll be combining this trip with another talk in central Manchester: details to come soon.
Hurst Festival, Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex. Village Centre venue.
Sunday 23 September, 2018; 2-4pm; tickets £5.
One of my favourite local festivals, brilliantly diverse – from actors to brewers, artists to thinkers. Join me to consider the rights and wrongs of feathered hats – and to ask why women’s contributions to history are so often overlooked.
Trentham Parish Church, Stoke-on-Trent
Wednesday 19 September, 7pm. £5 entry includes refreshments.
In 1832 a shocking secret was uncovered at the heart of Trentham Hall. Trusted housekeeper Dorothy Doar, who propped up the fabulous lifestyle of the 1st Duke & Duchess of Sutherland, was discovered to be pregnant. Join me at the scene of the crime to hear the thrilling story of Mrs Doar – from her spectacular fall from grace, to her revenge.
Berkswich History Society, Staffordshire.
Tuesday 18 September, 2018, 7.30pm
Behind every work of social history and its writer is often an invisible researcher – in this case, Beryl Holt, Chairman of the Berkswich History Society. I’ll be sharing some of Beryl’s hard-won discoveries in what turned out to be a great detective hunt: rare images, a cast of invisible characters and a political secret at the heart of the RSPB.
Wardown House, Millinery Museum & Gallery, Luton
Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 7.30-9pm, tickets £10.
A forgotten collection of Victorian and Edwardian feathered millinery ornaments were found in the attics of this elegant mansion… Join me for an evening talk on this now vanished trade and its female workforce – and for an exclusive peak inside some very old hatboxes with curator Mary Miah.
Birdfair, Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Leicestershire, Saturday, 18 August, 2018.
You might know your birds – but do you know the extraordinary story behind the RSPB? Introducing Etta, Eliza, Emily and Winifred: the four angry Victorian women protesting against ‘murderous millinery’. They took their ‘feather fight’ all the way up to Parliament – and won. Join me at the ‘Glastonbury of the Birding world’ for the women’s story
A dozen feathered hats, hidden within the fashion archives of the Victorian
V&A Lunchtime Lecture, WEDNESDAY 17 OCTOBER 1pm, Hochhauser Auditorium: ‘Bird Hats and Murderous Millinery.’ Whole birds, half birds and birds’ wings decorate dozens of hats held in the V&A’s fashion archives – evidence of a craze that gripped women for half a century, from the 1870s to the 1920s. Join me to hear the intriguing untold story of women, birds, hats – and votes.
This lecture dovetails with the current Fashioned From Nature Exhibition.