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Literature / Hetty Feather

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The first book, cover illustrated by Nick Sharratt

'Hetty Feather' is a book series created by British author Jacqueline Wilson, the title book being released in 2009.

Having reached critical success, 'Hetty Feather' went on to spawn a TV series by the same name, first broadcast in 2015.

Set in mostly in Victorian London in the first book, title character and Fiery Redhead Hetty, with her extraordinary Photographic Memory, recounts her early childhood in foster care and the life altering event of returning to the Foundling Hospital along with her surrogate brother Gideon. Hetty then has to navigate her pre-adolescence under the care of pretty bad teachers and finds little kindness, the search for her mother driving the plot of the first book which eventually comes to fruition.

The second book 'Sapphire Battersea' sees Hetty's first attempt at a new identity, explores Hetty's working life and as a scullery maid, enjoying the naivety of Puppy Love with the local Butcher's boy and her mother's traumatic death, the effects lingering throughout the rest of the series.


The 3rd book and the final book that concludes 'Hetty Feather', 'Emerald Star' sees Hetty's 2nd attempt at a new identity, finding her father to the dismay of his current family, returning back to the country for her foster father's death, and reconciling her feelings to Jem, her foster brother whom she shares a brief romance with, and running away to the circus.

'Hetty Feather' has gone on the have 2 sequels and a 2 spin-offs, exploring Hetty's life after the events of the first book and the people she meets along the way.


The Hetty Feather book series:

  • Hetty Feather
  • Sapphire Battersea
  • Emerald Star

The Hetty Feather spin-offs:

  • Diamond
  • Little Stars

Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Diamond's father, who sells her to the circus.
  • Attempted Rape: In 'Little Stars', the significantly older Sampson attempts to rape the underage drunk Hetty, fortunately foiled, though costing her job as a result.
  • Bitter Wedding Speech: Hetty is asked to speak at Jem's wedding, and says goodbye, rather bittersweetly.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Hetty and Gideon throughout the first part of the book in the Hospital.
  • Betty and Veronica: Janet and Hetty in 'Emerald Star'.
    • Also, arguably Jem and Bertie could apply in a gender-inversed way.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: All girls at the Hospital are destined for service.
  • Fiery Redhead: Hetty's flame red hair mirrors her flame red temper.
  • Gene Hunting: Hetty is desperate to find her mother and father..
  • Held Gaze: Hetty and Jem at his wedding reception
  • Insufferable Genius: Hetty, particularly as a child.
    • Thankfully, by the 3rd book Hetty has mellowed in her precocious-ness.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Jem, when he is forced to accept he and Hetty will never be.
  • Last Kiss: Jem and Hetty before his wedding.
    • Also arguably signifies the end of Jem and Hetty's romantic relationship.

  • Love Triangle: Janet, Jem and Hetty in "Emerald Star", then Jem, Hetty and Bertie in 'Little Stars.'
    • Made even more painful when Hetty almost ruins Jem and Janet's wedding by cropping up, causing Jem to admit his undying love for her and kissing him in 'Little Stars'.
  • Parental Substitute: Peg Cotton and Nurse Winnie during Hetty's early years in 'Hetty Feather', Mrs Briskett in 'Sapphire Battersea', Lizzie in 'Emerald Star' and Madame Adeline throughout 'Diamond/Little Stars'.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The entire series is written from child and teenaged Hetty's perspective, naturally unintentionally or even intentionally skewing facts at times.
    • Hetty even rewrites some of her memoirs in 'Emerald Star'.
  • Tagalong Kid and The Baby of the Bunch: Diamond
  • The Runaway: Hetty first runs away age 10 during a hospital outing in Hyde Park to seek out Madame Adeline, her . She runs away again to the circus 5 years later after realising she can't stay in the village.
  • Unfortunate Name
  • Unwanted Harem: Throughout the series, Hetty is almost constantly surrounded by suitors, such as Jem, Bertie, Marvo and unfortunately Sampson, who attempts to take advantage of Hetty multiple times.
  • Shrinking Violet: Gideon to a T, throughout the whole series.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Hetty the whole way through the series, often pushing peoples buttons.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Hetty's eyes are described as 'Sapphire blue'.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Hetty and Jem, then Hetty and Bertie.
    • Thankfully at least by the end of 'Little Stars' Hetty and Bertie finally get together after months of the Relationship Revolving Door.
  • The Wicked Stage: Hetty's landlady Miss Gibson disapproves of her Music Hall and Acting career.

Example of: