‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfil it’ George Santayana
Researcher – Speaker – Writer – Presenter
The Jesuits say ‘give me a child until they are seven and I will show you the man’, or woman of course. When I was seven I spent my time making up impossibly large families in ‘my famerley book’ (spelling was not a strong point). I also wrote long stories or played complicated, extended games of schools. Although I enjoyed ‘dressing up’, I hadn’t yet started donning period costume but most other aspects of my current life were there in embryonic form.
Although I have, I hope, a reputation as an academic historian, I believe good history is for everyone. As The History Interpreter, I aim to bring history alive in a variety of ways. I spend two or three days a week as my alter ego Mistress Agnes living in the seventeenth century at Torrington 1646. Here I impart information about life in the time of the English Civil War to tourists and school children. My book Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs: the lives of our seventeenth century ancestors, emerged out of this experience. On occasions, I swap centuries and appear as a Victorian. I am passionate about encouraging young people to become interested in history, especially through living history or family history. My main focus is on social history and the day to day lives of ordinary people, particularly women.
I enjoy dissecting small, rural communities and trying to understand how they functioned in the past. In this respect, I maintain my own archives for the North Devon villages of Buckland Brewer, Bucks Mills and Bulkworthy and I am now the project manager of the Clovelly Community Archive project. No, I am not working my way through the alphabet!
I work closely with historical organisations in my home county of Devon and I am leader of the North Devon branch of Devon Family History Society. The Isle of Wight Family History Society have done me the honour of appointing me their President. As historian for The Braund Family History Society I have immersed myself in the origins, genealogy and biography of this west country family and have written several books about them. I also research my own family history, with an emphasis on putting their lives into a wider context.
You can read about my chaotic historical life on the blog at Latest News from the History Interpreter do click ‘follow’ if you want to keep up to date.
e.mail email@example.com I always reply to e.mails but am aware that some do get lost in the ether. If you do not receive a response within 48 hours please try again.
Follow me on Twitter @janetfew
‘The past is history not destiny’ US President Clinton speaking of the situation in Ireland – December 2000