Talk: The Orphan Hero: The Foundling Who Fought at Trafalgar
Chester: Sunday 27 October, 17.10–18.10
Talk synopsis: Historian Helen Berry tells the compelling story of foundling George King, based on a remarkable narrative that is at the heart of her new book Orphans of Empire: the Fate of London’s Foundlings. The author discovered George’s autobiography while researching the history of nearly 6,000 orphaned and abandoned children raised by the London Foundling Hospital, the most famous charity in Georgian England. From his earliest memories of being nursed in the countryside, to how he came to terms with his lot as a ‘foundling’ child educated and raised in a military-style orphanage, George King’s is the only surviving account written by a foundling born before modern times. Come and hear about his incredible journey, from runaway apprentice to life as a press-ganged sailor who found himself at one of the most iconic sea battles in British history. Orphans of Empireuncovers the harrowing and often inspiring history of the thousands of children who, like George, had to fight for survival before the creation of the modern welfare state.
Speaker bio: Helen Berry is a professor of British history at Newcastle University and a prizewinning Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She studied history at the University of Durham and Jesus College, Cambridge, and has published extensively on the social history of Georgian Britain.