Mr Horniman’s Walrus tells the story of the rise and fall of three generations of a remarkable and dysfunctional Victorian family – the Hornimans – exploring the lives and loves behind their extraordinary and varied legacies.
Family patriarch John Horniman established the tea company that bore his name in 1826, which went on to become one of the best-known brands of nineteenth-century Britain. His son Frederick created the eclectic and wonderful Horniman Museum in London, and his granddaughter Annie was a theatrical impresario responsible for founding Ireland’s national theatre, the Abbey. Across more than a century, the family embodied changing middle-class attitudes from patriarchy to the new spirit of modernity; and their progress mirrored the high point of Victorian entrepreneurialism and the changes ushered in by the Edwardian age.
Drawing on her years of research and unfettered access to the family archive, Clare Paterson has written a riveting tale of trade, collecting, the stage, sex and politics in Victorian Britain. For the first time, Mr Horniman’s Walrus unpicks the lives of this fascinating family, including their slips from grace as well as their astounding achievements. It’s a story of capital and culture, philanthropy and empire, but also bankruptcy, betrayal, intrigue, lunacy and deep involvement in the esoterica of the occult.
About the Author
Clare Paterson is an award-winning television executive with extensive experience of commissioning and making documentaries, some of which have been honored with BAFTAs and International Emmys. Recent credits include The Day Mountbatten Died (BBC Two); A Very British History (BBC Four); The Bank that Almost Broke Britain, (BBC Two); and the multi-award-winning Exodus – Our Journey to Europe (BBC Two), a terrifying, intimate and epic portrayal of the migration crisis.