Julie hails from a Cambridge town family of bakers, bus cleaners, booksellers and college bedders, and works independently as a social historian, author, researcher, facilitator and micro-publisher.
Julie is available as a guest speaker on topics such as the tale of Norah C. James and her banned book, ‘Sleeveless Errand’; the history of Heffers of Cambridge; the history of labyrinths and mazes; haunted hostelries of Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire; and aspects of doings social history and publishing. She also offers a facilitated session called The Book Labyrinth, exploring what books and stories mean to us (see separate page on this website).
Her standard fee for delivering a live illustrated talk within 20 miles of Louth, Lincolnshire (where Julie resides) is £50 including travel. A talk may last anything from 30 to 90 minutes. Additional travel charges apply for talks further afield. For talks delivered online, the standard fee is £40. Fees for The Book Labyrinth sessions vary depending on the size of the group and travel. Julie can be contacted by email: [email protected]
Illustrated talks and facilitated group sessions currently available:
The strange tale of Norah C. James and her banned book, ‘Sleeveless Errand’
Known as ‘Jimmy’ to her friends and associates, Norah James officially became an ‘authoress’ with the publication of ‘Sleeveless Errand’ in 1929. The novel was swiftly ruled obscene, giving James a place on the roll call of authors with British banned books; a place neglected in favour of more esteemed names including James Joyce, Radclyffe Hall, D.H. Lawrence and Vladimir Nabokov. If it wasn’t for ‘Sleeveless Errand’, however, which led to the establishment of the Obelisk Press, banned books by these authors would not have been made available so quickly to a wider audience. Her first novel presented a real challenge to re-imagining the nation after World War One, and the story of its suppression, seen as a conspiratorial or state-sanctioned action, is fascinating. James went on to write over 75 publications including romantic novels, radio plays, short stories and articles. During the 1930s, she had a weekend cottage near Cambridge and people still talk about her. She died in 1979.
The Remarkable Story of Heffers of Cambridge, 1876-1999
William Heffer started his bookselling and stationery business in 1876. By the 20th Century this family business had become a famous Cambridge institution and was known all over the world. Occupying the middle ground between ‘town and gown’, the Heffers shops became a haven for many Cambridge characters and eccentrics. Capturing the spirit of a past era of retail, publishing and printing, the talk portrays the character and style of the firm – its people, the premises, outings, parties and other special occasions, and the unexpected.
The Curious History of Labyrinths & Mazes
The curious history of mazes does not run in a “steady straight” line, but, instead, begins with the labyrinth: a simple motif that is no doubt familiar to us all. With its true origins still shrouded in mystery, the chronicle of the labyrinth, and more recently of the maze, spans the past four thousand years, taking many twists and turns. It is a truly fascinating social history.
Beer and Spirits: tales of sightings, sounds and sensations in our local haunted hostelries
Ghost stories and strange happenings are an integral part of our folklore, in every city, town and village. In some places we feel a palpable sense of timelessness, of standing still, as though nothing has changed. We feel that people from the past are still with us. But of course, over the years people have come and gone, and communities have witnessed many changes. It seems inevitable that reported hauntings reflect our rich seam of history and often originate from well-known stories and legends that echo the past.
The Book Labyrinth: a facilitated session exploring pathways to wellbeing through the books we love
Do you love reading? Do you like to talk about books?
Books and stories are everywhere and when we thread our way through those written lines of life, we may lose ourselves, or even become the story, as we explore different perspectives on life events.
See The Book Labyrinth on this website.
Publications and background
In April 2016, Julie was awarded a doctorate from the University of East Anglia after passing her viva with ‘no corrections’. Also, in 2016, Julie wrote and published an illustrated social history of Heffers of Cambridge, and in September 2017 was presented with a Local History Personal Award by the Cambridgeshire Association for Local History, for the Heffers history.
In 2017/18, Julie wrote an illustrated popular history of labyrinths and mazes, entitled The Curious History of Mazes, for the US publisher, Wellfleet Press (out Oct 2018). She also assisted History Needs You with a 2018 Heritage Lottery funded Project for Gt. St. Mary’s Church, Cambridge, entitled ‘A Window on the War’. For this project, Julie’s curated a photographic exhibition about Cambridge women in Cambridge during WW1 and wrote an accompanying blog post, ‘It’s not knitting: Cambridge women supporting Belgian refugees 1914-18’
During 2018, Julie co-authored and published Beer & Spirits: Haunted Hostelries of Bedfordshire, with Trevor Bounford; a gazetteer of haunted public houses accompanied by an original ghost story. A Cambridgeshire edition published in 2019 won a Cambridgeshire Association for Local History Award in 2022.
In 2016/17, having published the history of Heffers, Julie went on to project manage the third Cambridge History Festival on behalf of the Museum of Cambridge. In 2018 Julie volunteered at the Museum, helping out with collections on Monday mornings.
Julie lives with her husband, Trevor Bounford, in the town of Louth, Lincolnshire UK. Trevor is a talented graphic designer and illustrated The Curious History of Mazes. Julie is the proud mother of George and Phoebe, two young people who are pursuing their careers in computer science and social care respectively in the US and the UK.
Previously, Julie was employed at the University of East Anglia from 2005 to 2014 as a manager in public & community engagement and then as a research fellow and tutor. This nine year period followed nineteen years in local government and voluntary sector roles in Norfolk. She has extensive management and partnership experience in homelessness, social policy and criminal justice. In 2005, Julie instigated UEA’s Annual Community Engagement Survey and in 2007 she co-authored UEA’s successful bid to host a ‘Beacon for Public Engagement’ and subsequently managed the four year Beacon, CUE East, from 2008 to 2012.
After decades of labouring full-time on management reports, committee papers and such like, Julie is finding her own, more expressive, writing voice, particularly through her social history research and writing.