Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Fiona Joseph and Beatrice Cadbury

This week at our local writers' group we spent a lovely morning in the company of Fiona Joseph. Fiona is the author of a recent biography, titled 'Beatrice: The Cadbury Heiress Who Gave Away Her Fortune'.

If I say Cadbury, I guess most of you will think of chocolate. Maybe you will be aware that the Cadbury chocolate firm was founded by a Quaker family, who built a village for their factory workers, at Bournville, Birmingham. But did you know that in 1920 Beatrice Cadbury decided her wealth was incompatible with her social conscience, and so gave all her shares in the company to Cadbury employees? Well, I certainly didn't know that, despite my addiction to everything chocolatey.

During the morning, Fiona read extracts from the book, and spoke about how her first glimmer of interest in Beatrice Cadbury grew to something of an obsession. Research took Fiona to The Netherlands, where Beatrice spent much of her later life, raising eight children in circumstances very much poorer than she had known as a child. Fiona talked about the process of publishing the book, which she did under her own imprint of Foxwell Press, and shared lot of useful advice with members of the group.

I really enjoyed hearing about Beatrice's unconventional life, and how she dedicated herself to working for peace and social justice. For further information, Fiona's website is here.