Joanna Quinn in conversation with Tracy Chevalier

23 March 2023, 7:00pm - 8:30pm


Spend an evening with Joanna Quinn and best-selling author Tracy Chevalier as they discuss Quinn’s debut novel, The Whalebone Theatre, a brilliant coming-of-age story set in Dorset before and during World War II. The novel was dubbed ‘the Book of the Summer’ by the Sunday Times in 2022.

The novel centres around Cristabel Seagrave, an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, with no place for her in a traditional English manor. But from the day that a whale washes up on the beach at the Chilcombe estate in Dorset, and twelve-year-old Cristabel plants her flag and claims it as her own, she is determined to do things differently.
With her step-parents blithely distracted by their endless party guests, Cristabel and her siblings bring a homegrown theatre to life, providing their own kind of education. As the children grow to adulthood and war arrives, they find themselves drawn into the conflict, with each finding different dramatic roles to play…


Joanna Quinn


Joanna Quinn was born in London and grew up in Dorset, where her debut novel The Whalebone Theatre is set. Joanna has worked in journalism and the charity sector. She is also a short story writer, published by The White Review and Comma Press among others. She lives in a village near the sea in Dorset.

Tracy Chevalier


Tracy Chevalier is the author of 10 novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring and Remarkable Creatures, about the Dorset fossil hunter Mary Anning. Tracy grew up in Washington DC and moved to the UK in the 1980s. She and her husband divide their time between London and the Piddle Valley. She is a Trustee of the Dorset Museum and the British Library, and a Patron of the Dorchester Literature Festival and the Lyme Regis Museum.

  • Opening hours:

    Dorset Museum & Art Gallery
    Daily: 10.00am - 5.00pm

    TASTE Café
    Daily: 9.00am - 4.00pm
    Sunday: 10:00am - 4:00pm

  • Dorset Museum

    High West Street
    Dorchester DT1 1XA

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