Tessa Boase

Non-fiction writer
University of Sussex

Tessa Boase is an editor, journalist and author, specialising in popular history books for adults. After a career in national newspapers, followed by a decade as a freelance features writer, she was invited to write a book about the English country house — and leapt at the chance. The Housekeeper’s Tale: The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House (Aurum Press, 2014) brings vividly to life a handful of anonymous women from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Using the skills of an investigative journalist, Tessa trawled through obscure archives to find individual stories. The result is a series of in-depth, dramatic narratives that combine scholarship with readability.

Her second book was regarded as something of a revelation: the untold story of how Britain’s biggest conservation movement, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, was founded by women in 1889. The challenge was to create a dynamic, emotionally engaging narrative out of dry facts and newspaper cuttings. Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism — Women’s Fight for Change (Aurum Press, 2018) has so far sparked a play, a series of portraits, a statue campaign and a ‘women in conservation’ debate.

Tessa enjoys teaching, entertaining and communicating. She has voiced both her books for Audible, and lectures frequently to diverse groups in all manner of locations, from the V&A to the U3A. She’s an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society, and has led a series of adult reading groups on the Sussex coast. She lives with her family in St Leonards-on-Sea.

Tessa Boase

Fellowships

University of Sussex 2020/21