‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfil it’ George Santayana
History Interpreter – Speaker – Writer – Researcher
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 time as my alter ego, Mistress Agnes, living in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, working as part of the Swords and Spindles team. 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 recently helped eighty ladies write their memories of the period 1946-1969 and used these to compile a social history of this pivotal period Remember Then: women’s memories of 1946-1969 and how to write your own.
I enjoy dissecting small, rural communities and trying to understand how they functioned in the past. In this respect, I maintain my own one place studies for the North Devon villages of Buckland Brewer, Bucks Mills and Bulkworthy. No, I am not working my way through the alphabet! I am the chair of the Society for One-Place Studies and have written a guide to one place studies Putting Your Ancestors in their Place.
I work closely with historical organisations in my home county of Devon and I am leader of the North Devon group of Devon Family History Society. The Isle of Wight Family History Society have done me the honour of appointing me one of their vice-presidents. 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 am a long-standing member of the Guild of One-Name Studies. I also research my own family history, with an emphasis on putting the lives of my ancestors into a wider context. I am responsible for the latest edition of the classic family history handbook Family Historian’s Enquire Within.
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.
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The material, both written and photographic, on these pages is the copyright of Janet Few unless stated. Text and illustrations on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other purposes, please seek the written permission of Janet Few © 2012-2016.
‘The past is history not destiny’ US President Clinton speaking of the situation in Ireland – December 2000