Norfolk's rebels have always done different
PUBLISHED: 15:56 21 February 2012
From Robert Kett to Stephen Fry - a new book celebrates the people of Norfolk and Norwich - rebels with a cause.
It is a book all about rebels – the people who have made Norfolk and Norwich of the 21st century such a special part of the country.
Over the years we have produced more rebels, men and women, than most.
Extraordinary people – rich and poor, old and young – who have helped to shape not only the county we live in but the country and the rest of the world.
Now a new book celebrating these colourful and larger-than-life characters has been written by an author in love with our neck of the woods and the people it has produced.
Nowadays we tend to think of rebels in far off places where the wars and uprisings of today are raging as people fight for their freedom.
As author Joanna Lehmann-Hackett points out, over the centuries many rebels have also risen up in Britain, with violence equal to any we see in other countries today.
Imagine what it must have been like in Norwich of the 1540s when Kett’s bloody and savage rebellion was tearing the heart out of the city as men fought in the streets.
The quiet face of Norfolk today gives the appearance of a backwater that has changed little for centuries. But this most easterly of England’s counties has a history of dissent and upheaval.
“Norfolk,” says Joanna, “ has been a surprising hotbed of subversion and rebellion.”
Her book tells the stories of Norfolk’s rebels, many of them linked, and weaves them into a vibrant tapestry of rebellions that is our inheritance.
And Joanna’s journey starts with one of the greatest rebels of all – Boudica, the tall redheaded Iceni queen who led the uprising in AD 60 against the mighty Roman power that ruled Britain.
As we turn the pages, moving backwards and forwards through the years, we are introduced to a rich collection of men and women from Norwich and Norfolk.
We live in a city and county which has always refused to roll over, has “done different” and been a thorn in the side of our often greedy and cruel leaders.
“The independence of Norfolk people coupled with their experience of great hardship goes a long way to explaining why Norfolk can claim so many rebels,” says Joanna.
It is easy to think of people like Thomas Fowell Buxton, who fought to abolish slavery, and Elizabeth Fry, who devoted her life to helping women prisoners, as reformers rather than rebels but they fought for changes to age-old ways of doing things and were considered rebellious and subversive.
By the early 19th century Norwich was referred to as a “city of sedition.” Quite an honour really when you consider how corrupt our country was.
But this isn’t just a book about people from long ago, we still produce plenty of fine and talented rebels – how about the brilliant artist Colin Self, author Philip Pullman and our very own national treasure Stephen Fry?
Fire In The Veins: Norfolk Rebels by Joanna Lehmann-Hackett is published by Wymer Publishing at £9.99. Part of the profits will go to the World Horse Welfare charity based in Norfolk. I have three copies of this fascinating book to give away. Answer this question. Name the Norwich woman whose face appears on the £5 note. Send your answer to me at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE, or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Entries should arrive by Tuesday February 28 and usual Archant rules apply.