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A Dress for Kathleen

15th September 2023 – 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm



Every family has shadow people, the ones who slipped out of the story too soon, leaving a blank space where they should have been. In my father’s family, that person was his sister Kathleen.” 

So begins Heather Richardson’s astonishing fragmentary celebration of her aunt, Kathleen Hutchinson, whose life was cut tragically short aged just 14. It is the early days of WW2 and Kathleen has just left school to start her first job at a linen mill. But this dark and cold December night she doesn’t make it home.

Heather, who originally stitched details of Kathleen’s life into the fabric of a dress she made as a tribute to her, now tells her story for the first time in a book. In the process, Heather Richardson also tells the stories of Kathleen’s parents and their lives together in rural Northern Ireland in the first half of the 20th Century. A Dress for Kathleen is a labour of love from a niece to the aunt she never met.

About Heather Richardson  

Heather Richardson grew up in Belfast. She escaped to England at 18, but after a decade was lured back home. After a non-literary career that began with bus driving in Leicester and ended as Sales and Marketing Director of a pharmaceutical distributor, she finally discovered academia and is now Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at The Open University. She has published two historical novels, Magdeburg (2010) and Doubting Thomas (2017), and her short fiction and poetry has been published in journals in the UK, Ireland and Australia. 

About the Linen Biennale  

The Linen Biennale Northern Ireland makes its much-anticipated return in August 2023. The themes of this year’s event, Renew & Revive, seamlessly intertwine as the organisers strive to deepen the understanding and admiration for the timeless legacy of flax and linen. Participants will explore the enduring value of these materials in the present and their potential significance in the future. Proudly brought to you by R-Space Gallery, the Linen Biennale Northern Ireland promises to be a captivating celebration of art, history, and culture. Find out more.


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15th September 2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


The Linen Hall
17 Donegall Square North
Belfast, BT1 5GB United Kingdom


The Linen Hall
+44 (0)28 9032 1707
View Organiser Website

Booking is essential for all events including free events. All event tickets are non-refundable. Please view our Customer Service Policy.