Dr Ann Featherstone

Location: Ilkeston, Derbyshire
About The Speaker...

I am a retired university lecturer and teacher as well as a writer. I write non-fiction books and articles and I’m a historical novelist with two novels to my name. My particular interest is the 19th century: popular entertainment, theatre, music hall, circus, crime culture, though I do stray occasionally into the 20th century! I have appeared on The One Show, The World’s Oldest Joke (with Sir Michael Grade) and in documentaries about fairs and circuses on BBC4. I’ve been a guest expert on Who Do You Think You Are twice, once with Sheridan Smith and in 2016 with Sir Ian McKellan. Most recently I appeared in the BBC’s second series of A House Through Time when the location was Newcastle on Tyne.

About Their Talks...

I have a wide experience of giving talks and can happily accommodate U3A groups, Probus, Women’s Institutes, Towns Womens Guilds, Historical Societies, Church and Retirement groups. All of the above have contacted me for engagements.
All of my talks are illustrated using good quality Powerpoint slides and a projector. I bring my own equipment, but I’m happy to use the venue’s if necessary. The availability of a screen or a blank wall is appreciated, but I do have my own screen.

My talks last between 50 and 60 minutes, though I can shorten them if required. I’m always happy to take questions.

Someone said to me recently, “I could have listened to you for another hour!” That is praise indeed!


I have a standard Speaker’s Fee of £50 and don’t charge travel expenses unless the venue is more than a 20 mile round trip from my home in South Derbyshire. I will quote a total fee, inclusive of modest expenses, on request.

I am available Monday to Friday and weekends, morning, afternoon and evening. If you want me to travel to a venue that is remote and a long distance my South Derbyshire home, I’d be happier in the spring and summer months. Driving in the mid-winter dark is not much fun these days!!

I’m now an experienced Zoom speaker!

My Contact Details:



Music Hall: the Singers and the Songs

Music hall programmes included many acts, from comedians to jugglers and performing dogs, but the stars of the halls were almost always singers: Marie Lloyd, Gus Elen, Vesta Victoria, Albert Chevalier. This talk is about those singers (and many others) and the songs they sang, from anti-war ditties to those about marriage, holidays and working life. I illustrate the talk, too, by singing some of the songs myself.

'Here we are again': a (very) brief history of pantomime

This talk explores the very earliest performances in the 17th and 18th centuries, the glory days of the 19th century and modern times, taking in spectacular scenery, celebrities and Pantomime Dames on the way.

A Storm in a Teashop: the Waitresses' Strike of 1908

At lunch time on 8th April 1908, the waitresses at the Cabin Restaurant, Piccadilly Circus, came out on strike and hit the headlines around the country. This talk is about the working women who chose take on a major company and ‘go it alone.’

Mashed potato sandwiches and bottle-top tinsel : Rose Buckner's post-war world of home-making

Let me introduce you to Mrs Rose Buckner, a not-so ordinary housewife who wrote a weekly column for mothers in the ‘Sunday People’ for 10 years from 1947, sharing incidents about her daily life and her three children, as well as tips on home making and cooking and coping with those years of post-war austerity.

The Murder of the Blackpool Widow

1953: the year when the country celebrated the Coronation of Elizabeth II, when sweet rationing ended and when, for 5 months over the summer, newspapers were full of the mysterious death of a widow in the seaside town of Blackpool. Discover how one person was convicted, another released, and what Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks had to do with it.

I'll polish him off!": the Curious History of Sweeney Todd

Was he real or fictional? Why is the story of this violent murdering barber,18th century London low-life and Mrs Lovatt’s pies so enduring and fascinating?

Dr Ann Featherstone Contact Details:



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