David McKie

People curious to know more about the history of surnames are invited to an event in Lichfield.

Surnames are much more than convenient identity tags; they are windows into our families’ pasts.

Some suggest ancestral trades (Butcher, Smith, Roper) or physical appearance (Long, Brown, Thynne) and some offer a hint of something just a little more exotic or esoteric.

David McKie

All are grist to the mill for David McKie who, in What’s in a Surname?, sets off on a journey around Britain to find out how such appellations have evolved and what they tell us about ourselves.

David formerly worked for the Guardian as a political reporter, deputy editor, chief leader writer and author of the ‘Elsewhere’ and ‘Smallweed’ columns.

His much-praised account of a Victorian conman, Jabez: The Rise and Fall of a Victorian Rogue, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award. He has also written such widely acclaimed books as Great British Bus Journeys and McKie’s Gazetteer.

During his visit to Lichfield he will reveal how such appellations have evolved, celebrating not just the Smiths and Joneses, but the Chaceporcs and Swetinbeddes too.

The event is part of the Lichfield Literature Festival and takes place on October 11 at 10am at the Winterton’s Auctioneers saleroom. Tickets are £10 from the Festival website or the box office on 01543 306271.