Openstorytellers has received a grant award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new project entitled ‘The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Fanny Fust: An 18th Century Adventure Story’, based in Frome and Wells. The project will focus on researching and retelling the story of a young heiress who had severe learning disabilities, and was abducted by a fortune hunter in 1700’s Bristol.
Openstorytellers’ group of storytellers and project managers who have learning disabilities will be researching the life of Fanny Fust, in collaboration with the University of Bristol and telling her story. The group are particularly interested in how she was taken away against her will, and how her mother supported her to have the marriage annulled. The story raises many issues around capacity and consent that are still relevant to people with learning disabilities today and this project will enable conversations and raise awareness around these issues. “We want people to change the way they think about people like us like we did with our ‘King of the Goblins’ story (at a storytelling Festival) we asked the audience questions and made them think. We want to show people that even though we have special needs we are the same as those who don’t.” – OST group member.
In order to get a feel for what life was like for Fanny, the group are investigating all aspects of 18th century life, including the fashion, the food, the leisure pursuits, architecture and schooling. The group want to give Fanny a voice and plan to tell her story to a wide audience. “Our show and talk will inform, make people think and entertain the audiences.” Working with a steering group of professionals from Bristol University, the Open University, local museums and other heritage specialists, participants will gain a deeper insight into this previously under-researched part of their history, as well as learning valuable new communication skills to use to bring Fanny’s thought-provoking story to life.