“She's a fierce, feisty creature but very much one of my heroines.” Dame Jacqueline Wilson
When Dame Jacqueline Wilson sat in on the Museum’s Victorian Foundlings school session one chilly November morning in 2008, no one could have guessed that the experience would inspire her first historical heroine, a red-haired Foundling girl called Hetty.
The Foundling Museum’s first Coram Fellow, Dame Jacqueline is one of the world’s best loved children’s authors. She has written more than 90 books, including Tracy Beaker. Hetty Feather is her first historical novel and her longest work so far: “I thought it would be a bit of a challenge, but I love the period and thought, I'll give it a go.”
Hetty is just a tiny baby when her mother leaves her at London’s Foundling Hospital in 1876. Hetty must first live with a foster family until she is big enough to go to school. Life in the countryside is hard, but with her 'brothers' Jem and Gideon she helps in the fields and plays imaginary games. Together they sneak off to visit the travelling circus and Hetty is mesmerised by the show, especially by Madame Adeline and her performing horses. Hetty's happiness is threatened once more when she is returned to the Foundling Hospital. The new life of awful uniforms, terrible food and Matron “Pigface” is a struggle for her, but now she has the chance to find her real mother. Could she really be the wonderful Madame Adeline, or will Hetty find the truth is even more surprising? (Suitable for children 8 years and up).
Hetty Feather returns as Sapphire Battersea!
September 2011 saw the release of the sequel to Hetty Feather! Sapphire Battersea follows Hetty’s journey as she leaves the Foundling Hospital at fourteen. Hetty always longed to be called Sapphire, after her sapphire-blue eyes. When she is reunited with her mother, she hopes her new name, Sapphire Battersea, will also mean a new life! But life doesn't always go as planned...Follow the twists and turns of Hetty's adventure as she goes out to work as a maid for a wealthy man. She longs to be reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jem - but also finds a new sweetheart, Bertie the butcher's boy, who whisks her away from her household chores to experience the delights of the funfair! But Hetty's life may also take a darker path. Can she cope with the trials ahead?
In 2009, the Museum hosted a fantastic Hetty Feather Day with Dame Jacqueline Wilson to celebrate the book’s launch. Two years later, the Museum hosted a special family day to celebrate the launch of the sequel, Sapphire Battersea. We look forward to celebrating the third and final book of the series this Autumn 2012.
Hetty Feather’s Victorian Trail and Teacher's Notes
If you are aged between 6 and 12 years, ask for Hetty Feather’s Victorian Trail next time you visit the Museum. This free trail will take you on a tour of the Museum’s galleries to discover original Victorian items from the Foundling Hospital! Are you reading Hetty Feather at school? Click on the links to find Hetty Feather resources for both teachers and pupils!