Dr Janet Few

Location: Bideford, North Devon
About The Speaker...

Dr Janet Few is an experienced social and family historian who lectures regularly on these subjects worldwide, both in person and virtually. Working as an historical interpreter, Janet spends time living in the seventeenth century and some of her talks are delivered in period costume by her alter ego, Mistress Agnes. Janet is also the author of several fiction and non-fiction books. Her talks are suitable for history societies, literary festivals and general interest groups

About her talks...

Talks are illustrated and Janet provies all of her own equipment.

Janet can give her talks as virtual presentations (zoom).


My fee is £50 within ten miles of my home town in Bideford.

My Contact Details:

01237 451305

Sins as Red as Scarlet: researching a seventeenth century Devon town in turmoil

Sins as Red as Scarlet is a novel that tells the story of the last women in England to be hung for the crime of witchcraft. This presentation describes the research behind the novel, which is firmly rooted in historical fact. It is 1682. Across the land, the Age of Reason has begun; scientific thought is ousting superstitious belief. The menacing days of the witchfinder have all but gone. Nevertheless, in Devon’s county town, three impoverished women are approaching the gallows, condemned to death for the crime of witchcraft. They come from the prosperous port of Byddeforde. There we find the rich merchants, the flourishing tobacco warehouses and the bustle of ships setting sail for the Newfoundland cod-banks. Yet, barely hidden, are layers of intolerance and antagonism that have built up over decades. A time of plague, of war, of religious dissent; all of which have fashioned the prejudices and fears of the town’s inhabitants.

Barefoot on the Cobbles: from family fact to family fiction

Barefoot on the Cobbles is a novel that tells the story of a real tragedy that took place in a North Devon fishing village. Growing up, barefoot on the cobbles, in a village on the rugged North Devon coast, Daisy was aware of the perils of the uncertain sea. Her family were also exposed to the dangers of disease and of the First World War but for Daisy, it was her own mother who posed the greatest threat of all. What was it about her mother’s origins, in an isolated rural community, that drove an ordinary fisherman’s wife to take such desperate measures in order to preserve her sanity? Vividly recreating life at the dawning of the twentieth century, this story is based on a real scandal that lay hidden for nearly a century. This presentation explains the research that underpins the creation of this story, some of the family and social history sources used and the problems of combining fact and fiction.

Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs: the lives of our seventeenth century ancestors

‘Why do you need a bum roll?’ ‘What colour were carrots in the C17th?’ ‘What did the Cavaliers use for deodorant?’ ‘Can you think of 47 uses for urine?’ Supplying the answers to the above (well, maybe not all 47 uses), this presentation is a light-hearted but informative, insight into the domestic life of our C17th ancestors. The emphasis is on providing the context against which to set the documentary evidence for this period.

Remember Then: memories of 1946-1969 and how to record your own

This talk describes the results of a project during which eighty women recorded their memories of life in Britain during the pivotal period 1946-1969 – a time when we moved from liberty bodices to mini skirts and from ration books to ready meals. We saw the emergence of youth culture, the comprehensive education system, conspicuous consumerism and feminism. Either come and reminisce or discover what life was like at the time. This talk is much more than just a collection of memories. The techniques described will help both men and women, of all ages, to start writing reminiscences of their own.

Dr Janet Few Contact Details:

01237 451305

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