The Foundling Museum & Hetty Feather Trail Interview

Earlier this summer, The Foundling Museum in London launched the Hetty Feather Trail. Jacqueline Wilson fans may be aware that Ms Wilson was inspired to write the Hetty Feather series after becoming involved with the work of The Foundling Museum. We spoke to staff at the museum to learn more their work with Jacqueline Wilson, the Hetty Feather books and the how the new trail will enhance a visit to the museum for young visitors.

We understand that Jacqueline Wilson – who was the Foundling Museum’s first Coram Foundling Fellow - was partly inspired to create the first Hetty Feather book after visiting the museum. Could you tell us a little more about why Jacqueline Wilson was given this honour?

The FoundlingMuseum celebrates the ability of artists, past and present, to improve the lives of vulnerable children and young adults. Jacqueline Wilson was one of the first Foundling Fellows, which demonstrates that the tradition of artistic philanthropy established by Hogarth, Handel and their contemporaries in the 18th century, is alive and well today. Biannually, three outstanding individuals are awarded the fellowship because their work has had a positive impact on the lives of children.  As part of the Fellow’s commitment to children, they work with the Museum to develop original, creative initiatives that help to support vulnerable and marginalised young people. Jacqueline Wilson was a exceptional Fellow, as her books have been a constant inspiration to children and young people.

What was Jacqueline Wilson’s initial involvement with the Foundling Museum?

Jacqueline Wilson first became inspired to write Hetty Feather after watching a school session in the museum. Having only written one historical novel in the past, Hetty Feather was a big project and she worked closely with the museum researching the lives of the Foundling’s to build up the Hetty Feather story. After the book was launched we held a Hetty Feather day to celebrate its publication.

Did you notice a rise in visitor numbers after the publication of the first Hetty Feather book? We imagine that many Jacqueline Wilson fans would be keen to see the setting where Hetty grew up and had her adventures.

The Hetty Feather trilogy will continue to always be popular with visitors, and is a great way for children to engage in the history of the FoundlingHospital. We regularly sell out our Hetty Feather events which we co organise with Jacqueline.

Following the success of Hetty Feather, Jacqueline Wilson has written two more books about Hetty’s life in the Foundling Hospital and beyond (Sapphire Battersea and Emerald Star). The Foundling Museum has maintained close links with Ms Wilson, holding three Family Days. Could you explain what the Family Days involved?

The family days that The Foundling Museum runs around the Hetty Feather trilogy usually feature a reading and a book signing by Jacqueline Wilson, and a range of different art activities and events around the museum. There has been conversations about a family day around Jacqueline’s sequel to Hetty Feather ‘Diamond’ being launched at the museum later this year, so keep your eyes peeled on the website for news!

The recently-launched ‘Hetty Feather Trail’ must be very popular with your young visitors. How will the self-led interactive trail enhance a visit to the Foundling Museum for Hetty Feather fans?

When designing the Hetty Feather trail it was important that the history of the Foundling Hospital and the objects in the museum related to the story of Hetty. She may be a fictional Foundling but a lot of Jacqueline’s book is based around accurate historical facts of the daily life of a Foundling child. We wanted Hetty fans to learn about the history of the Foundling Hospital but also closely related to the book and Hettys experiences. The resource was about making not just Hettys story come to life but that of all the Foundling children.

What is your own personal highlight of the new ‘Hetty Feather Trail’?

The learning team at the Foundling Museum love the Hetty books, especially Hettys brave and imaginative personality. We like the dress up doll section and Hetty picturing her future at the end of the trail.  We are very proud of how well it has been received by Hetty fans and hope that it provides a fun and interactive learning experience.

For more information about ‘the Hetty Feather Trail’, please click here.
To read more about The Foundling Museum, please click here.
To read more about Jacqueline Wilson, click here to read our interview with her (from Oct 2012). You can also click here to read our review of her appearance at The Royal Hall in Harrogate, North Yorkshire on October 2012.


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