Jehanne has always loved history and biography, even her Norman French name has a strong historical connotation as Joan of Arc was originally spelt Jehanne d’Arc.
After graduating from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, she worked as a graduate trainee investment banker before becoming an historical researcher.
Her first book was a biography Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s Unconventional Daughter (Harper Collins). She has also written family and corporate histories.
She has contributed to television and radio programmes, such as BBC Two ‘Reputations’ series and Radio Four Women’s Hour.
Jehanne Wake is an English author who lives in West London.
HOW JEHANNE WAKE CAME TO WRITE ABOUT THE CATON SISTERS…
‘When I was first asked by BBC Radio 4 to talk about how rich women historically managed their money, I went along to ING Barings, which has the oldest banking archive in the City of London.
I hoped to find evidence to disprove the long held assumption that women of the nineteenth century “cannot understand investments” and had no interest in finance and the stock market. I was reading through documents concerning women clients when I came across a letter written by an E. Caton. It was extraordinary. Her voice was so vivid and authoritative – on the subject of investments and speculations, no less. Wow! Here was my researcher’s pot of gold!
Then I heard it again when, using words familiar today as the jargon of the global financial markets, she advised a female friend to buy bonds as “if peace continues the fives will rise above a hundred & one wd now get very nearly 5 & ½ pr Ct interest buying at 92.”
She was writing not in the early 21st-century but in the early 19th-century. I was amazed. Who was she and how did she come to be active in the Regency stock market?
This was the beginning of my journey through the lives of the four Caton sisters as I followed the trail of their letters back to their family in Maryland and learnt the answers to the questions that had been asked nearly two centuries before by Regency society: “Who are they?” and “What is their fortune?”