Jenny Mallin

Location: Kingsclere, Berkshire
About The Speaker...

Jenny’s career has been the culmination of several instinctive paths in her life which have led her to enjoying being an author and now a public speaker. With almost thirty trips to India over the past thirty years, she has explored and uncovered the history of her ancestors and their interesting path.

Jenny’s past career has also influenced her with her continuing interest in both research and travel from her early days in television production at the BBC where she picked up skills in how to present but also carved out a career there in researching. The following decade of the 1980s found her working in high tech as a Corporate Travel Buyer for twenty years and with her engaging personality and knowledge was able to easily connect with her market and secure global airline contracts to the benefit of her company.

Recently interviewed by Jenni Murray on BBC’s Woman’s Hour, Jenny has also been featured in “The Lady” magazine, “Who do you think you are?” magazine as well as “Waitrose Magazine” and “Sainsbury’s Magazine”. Jenny has been able to impart knowledge of her family’s cuisine through her teaching at notable cookery schools, including the renowned WI headquarters, Denman College in Oxford.

A GRANDMOTHER’S LEGACY by Jenny Mallin is a book out of the blue.
Here comes a delight of a book that effortlessly throws light on the life and times of Anglo-Indians during the prime days of the Raj. Spanning the 19th and the 20th centuries, the story covers the lives of five generations of women of a family, beginning with Jenny’s great-great-great grandma Wilhelmina down to her mother Cynthia who immigrated to Britain in 1952.

The narrative revolves around Wilhelmina’s handwritten recipe book containing recipes of over 500 dishes, chiefly Anglo-Indian, which has been handed down and added to from generation to generation. Thus, one is charmed to find classic nuggets of Anglo-Indian life, narrated not impersonally as by a student of community history, but from the first-hand experience of members of one big family.
So, we have notes on the Railways, the cellular jail in the Andamans, the ‘Indian’ expedition to Mesopotamia during World War I, the Victorian style of dressing in the 19th century, tales of hunting trips, the Orr and Barton studio and Eventide Homes in Bangalore, the marriage between cousins (Shandleys), Poona’s military station, boxing bouts against soldiers, the long walk back from Burma during World War II, wall-posters and Christmas cards in the 1940s, and much more.

Jenny Mallin has every reason to call her book a memoir instead of a cookbook, though fans of cooking will also find it a truly a treasure trove.

About Their Talks...

Jenny offers a 45 minute Powerpoint presentation which is filled with lovely family sepia photographs. She is happy to answer questions after the talk.

She provides her own projector and laptop which is modern, state of the art equipment.


I am choosing from now on to be a Zoom speaker only, therefore my fee will always remain the same and therefore can be combined as part of a hybrid meeting where members are all in the one room and I am connected to them via Zoom.

I charge £65.00 for a Zoom talk 55 minute fully illustrated Powerpoint presentation talk with the opportunity of Q&A afterwards if required.

My Contact Details:


A grandmother's legacy: Full steam ahead

With ancestors who were in India at the very beginning of the steam trains starting up in the Indian subcontinent, as well as those whose professions on the railway were held in high esteem by the railway companies themselves, we learn how life was for my grandfather who grew up on a railway colony, the first of its kind in India which proved to be an exemplar and one in which set a precedent for future ones to be established. Kipling remarked how that particular railway colony was “a paragon of European enterprise in the heart of India, laid out with military precision; each house with its share of garden, its red-brick path, its growth of trees and its neat little wicket gate.” With a highly visual presentation of steam trains, we learn how obstacles were overcome with civil engineering achievements to provide a suitable way for trains to travel along a series of mountains with 1:37 gradients all with the aim of trading commodities for the East India Company. This talk details the opening up of a country which up until the railway was only possible by bullock cart due to the varied landscape, climate and conditions of the roads. We end with a light hearted look at the difficulties faced by the author thirty years ago when trying to buy a train ticket in India.

A grandmother's legacy: my family history

A complete insight how five generations of a family lived as Domiciled Anglo Indians with British ancestry on both sides of the family for almost two hundred years in India during the British Raj. We discover the early ancestors’ story of military battles in the 18th century and how future generations were involved in professions on the railway, education and medicine whilst tagging on the story of the grandmothers and their lives seen through the eyes of their granddaughter. There are wonderful family sepia images throughout this particular talk with anecdotes and historical facts, data and records which will intrigue both family historians but also those who are interested in learning more about how life was for those living in British India. This talk provides a fascinating glimpse into a real family, real stories and how history ran parallel in their own lives, the best way to describe this popular presentation with vivid images is that the audience is treated to a snippet of each of my talks to such an extent that you feel you are discovering all the chapters of a book in one talk.

A grandmother’s legacy: Serendipity follows me on my journey

Through a short and fascinating glimpse into the lives of my ancestors, we learn more about my own journey in the realisation that with both parents now elderly and frail, that the passing of their lives would mark the end of an era of those generations which went before me who were part of a chapter of British Indian history. This talk is truly inspiring for anyone who recognises the importance of preserving a family heritage, it’s also an entertaining presentation in which we discover the ambitious lengths one would go in order to achieve the impossible and the outcome of one’s efforts in a positive and delightful way. Serendipitious stories which reflect the journey from start to finish enhances this charming illustrative talk.

A grandmother's legacy: my travels around India

An intriguing and entertaining vignette of some of my travels around India (of which there have been over twenty five trips during the past thirty years). This is a talk which will suit those who have already thought India to be an interesting place to see, but may just be a little apprehensive. The audience discovers how India is a land of many cultures, heritages, languages and religions but we also learn about the good heart of the Indians. We see how a friendly face and smile acknowledges that you are seen not as a stranger but simply someone who looks interesting to talk with. There are amusing anecdotes throughout, from the arduous task of just purchasing a train ticket to stories which have demonstrated the kindness of a stranger. We learn of, the superstitious side to a nation and gain an insight into how much India has changed since 1990 with the progression of technology. This is a talk which goes far beyond a travel brochure, it sets the right expectations in anyone’s mind who needs to feel that they have experienced India for themselves!

Walking into Grandmother's kitchen at Christmas - a British Raj lifestyle

This talk centres around my family’s traditions at Christmas, how the festive season was enjoyed by those who were living in a country which was part of the British Raj. We explore and discover how enticed they were by those exotic ingredients found in India, which with the help and careful consideration of their native cook, produced a different kind of cuisine. Through the pages of the old cookery book dating back to 1844, we uncover family recipes which were so loved and enjoyed over five generations, which provide a fascinating insight into those unusual recipe names which are alliterative with titles such as Ding Ding Fry and Rumble Tumble! We also get a good idea as to how they entertained, and how their social calendars were filled with tea dances, balls and social evenings which started on Christmas Eve and went right through to twelfth night. This is a heart warming talk which displays a nation of people who are ready to embrace other cultures and religions (for example 2% of people living in India are Christians and yet 100% of its people celebrate Christmas together as one)…

A grandmother’s legacy: the early days

How Benjamin Hardy in 1798, a seventh generation weaver ancestor of Jenny Mallin from Mirfield in Yorkshire, sails to Madras with his British Army unit, fights for the next 22 years in India and decides to settle his family there for the next five generations.  Through new research I have been able to offer more on the three ancestors that has an ancestry going back to the 17th century.  They were all in the British Army and came from different backgrounds.  This is a more indepth look at the start of the ancestors with a storyline which brings together the reasons for my family being linked to the British Raj.

A grandmother’s legacy: the 170 year old recipe book

A large leather bound book, which was started off by my great great great grandmother, Wilhelmina Hardy in 1844 containing her Portuguese / German / English family recipes was then handed down to her daughter who did the same, and that book kept on getting handed down from generation to generation (my talk centres on the recipes, the history of those recipes and how that book evolves with each generation reflecting where the grandmothers were living at that time (i.e. we come across an early version of the coroma curry which great great grandma Maud wrote in 1900).

A grandmother’s legacy: my ancestors professions in the British Raj

A detailed talk with fascinating sepia photographs provide the audience with interesting facts about the history of the infrastructure of India and the various professions of her grandfathers on the Indian railways, telegraph, founder of one of the first English medium schools in India and the military involvement of two of her great grandfathers who fought in the third Anglo Mysore war. all seen through the eyes of their granddaughter (Jenny Mallin).

A grandmother’s legacy: the memsahibs and their servants

We discover the very first memsahibs to set foot into India in 1617, and how a fair amount of hoodwinking by these ladies who travelled out to the East Indies at a time when the East India Company expressly forbade women to do this.  We learn of the fishing fleet ladies, those English young women of marriageable age who soon found themselves faced with the social stigma of spinsterhood that were now looked upon as objects of pity as fate had dealt them an unlucky hand and their only way to gain a hand in marriage was to go in search of a husband, and quickly…  We learn of the challenges that lay ahead for them in running a household and the considerations that they would need to bear in mind when hiring their servants.

A grandmother’s legacy: my great aunt Constance

My great aunt Constance was a woman of high social status, a wife of a British official, born in 1898 this is her account of her life in Burma and the story of a civilian trek in 1942 involving thousands of people who had to face for the first time in their lives, an arduous hike across some of the world’s most treacherous terrain, dealing with monsoon climatic rivers, jungles and steep mountain ranges and dangerous wildlife.  We learn how Rangoon was at that time the world’s busiest immigration port with millions arriving into this rich, stylish and exciting destination and how Burma was recognised as the most beautiful country in South East Asia.  We discover how living in Rangoon throughout its heyday of the 1930s meant a charmed life, one that was filled with opulence, bon viveur and style.  We then learn how life can change overnight and the juxtapose of a situation where there was no possibility of turning back but only in moving forward.



What others are saying about Jenny’s talk.


Testimonial from Malvern U3A
“Walking into Grandmother’s kitchen in 1940s Madras”
Good morning, Jenny. Thank you so much for your second excellent Zoom presentation to Malvern U3A “Walking into Grandmother’s Kitchen in 1940s Madras”. It’s always a good sign to get questions or comments after one of my talks, and we found your festive talk brought about some really positive thoughts around a time when everyone has been challenged – globally. You will have been aware from the ranges of questions following your talk that everyone thoroughly appreciated your presentation. We thoroughly enjoyed your Christmas talk and we look forward to more in the future! My very best thanks, Jeff Thorogood, Speakers Organizer, Malvern U3A.

Testimonial from Thrapston U3A (Paul Ollett Speaker Secretary) “Jenny is certainly a very able speaker as well as an accomplished authoress of a prestigious award for ‘Best Cook Book of the Year” 2017. A fitting reward to have recognition for a book that she had written and published herself. She is a wonderfully engaging lady to listen to and has many different talks in her repertoire, she is inspirational and would be a very welcome guest for a future talk.

My Family History talk Testimonial from West Surrey Family History Society <>
Hi Jenny, I just wanted to thank you again, on behalf of the West Surrey Family History Society, for your very interesting talk yesterday. The numerous photographs brought to life the history of your family, which seems to have been involved in some rather interesting periods of history, and we have received quite an amount of positive feedback from the attendees.

My Family History talk Testimonial from Notts Family History Society’s President Peter Hammond
This talk takes us on a fascinating journey from Mirfield in Yorkshire to the hot climes of India. Through a wonderful legacy of photographs and ephemera, along with original research into a variety of archives, Jenny’s family history is a mini-version of the development of India itself. Highly recommended.

“170 year old recipe book talk to Waterlooville U3A Good evening Jenny…..thank you so much for your very interesting talk this afternoon. I thought you may appreciate a few feedback comments received afterwards: Thank you for today’s fascinating talk. I really enjoyed the talk on Grandmas recipes. It was put together very professionally and was easy to follow. I am now inspired to do some Indian curries at home. Thank you for sharing your interesting family history with us. Many thanks for arranging another great talk this afternoon. Another very good talk. She was excellent, we really enjoyed it. With my very best wishes, Jo…”

“170 year old recipe book talk to Horndean U3A Hi Jenny, Thank you I really enjoyed your talk. So interesting, with a little railway history knowledge and genealogy thrown in. Perfect! I have a similar stack of recipe books and family trees, handed down from in laws and grandmothers. You have inspired me to get them out and go through them. Your book has gone onto the birthday wish list! Thank you Sue Dobson, Horndean U3A”

Family History talk Testimonial from London Family History Society <> Dear Jenny, Thank you for your fascinating talk to our Virtual Branch yesterday evening. The stories of your female ancestors shown through the wonderful cookbook that they passed down were most enjoyable. How lucky you are to have the cookbook and such a heritage!

Serendipity talk to Pershore U3A (Chairman Jill Wilson) “Dear jenny, Your talk was excellent and really appreciated by our u3a members. It was not only interesting and entertaining but it also covered lots of material with pertinent illustrations. Your personal perspective was an added bonus. Brilliant! ”

Serendipity talk to Buttercross Ladies Probus Club (Chairman Jacquie Pearce-Gervis) “Dear Jenny, Thank you so much for a fascinating talk to our little group today. What a “journey”, and you have really only just started on it! We did so much appreciate you giving up your time to talk to us. Your talk left us with goosebumps, thank you once again.”

“My travels around India talk to Odiham District U3A (John Charlewood) We had a fascinating and very enjoyable morning in Jenny’s company and I can thoroughly recommend her talk…”.

“My travels around India talk to Wokingham U3A (Glynis Leeson) I have received several emails from our members saying how much they enjoyed your talk. Interestingly, quite a few of our members have connections with India. I will definitely keep your details on file as it would be great to hear another of your talks. Thank you once again…”

“My travels around India talk to Limebrook Maldon U3A (Jess Patient) Thank you for your excellent talk yesterday which was much enjoyed by Limebrook Maldon u3a members! Your personal experiences and anecdotes brought to life a country which has always seemed to me full of paradox. I will certainly keep you in mind for any future Zoom talks…”

“Rye & District National Trust Association, Maggie Brown (President): Jenny, Thank you for a really wonderful and illuminating talk on My Great Aunt Constance, a subject that most of us had no knowledge of…”

“Stourbridge U3A, Brenda Stevenson (Speaker Secretary): Dear Jenny, Lots of praise is coming in from the Members to you about this morning’s talk on My Great Aunt Constance. Very well presented and absolutely full of interest. Thank you very much indeed. We hope to hear some more in the future…”

“Tendring U3A” Karen, Speaker Co-ordinator
Hi Jenny, Thank you so very much for today’s talk on “The Memsahibs and their Servants” which was extremely enjoyable. Not only was it full of interesting facts, information and good visuals but your delivery was excellent – not too fast (as has been experienced by other speakers). I will keep your details on file for future events.”

“Bishops Cleeve U3A” Joan Hall, Speaker Secretary
Our thanks again Jenny for your time and giving us such an insight into the life of a Memsahib in the British Raj.
I know how much our members enjoyed your Memsahibs talk – here’s a selection of their comments – “so interesting” “fascinating” “Jenny’s talk really brought it all to life” “very informative and well constructed” “had heard a talk about the “Fishing Fleet” but the rest was new to me – brilliant” “such a joy listening to what Jenny had to tell” ………. such comments speak for themselves I think

Thrapston U3A Paul Ollett, Speaker Secretary. “Those who saw the talk by Jenny Mallin were well rewarded with a presentation which grasped one’s attention and held it firmly for an hour as we were taken on a well-illustrated journey to many parts of the Indian sub-continent…”



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