Stamback in Time

The Action for Stammering Children Youth Panel are working in partnership with the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) on a project called ‘Stamback in Time,’ funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Stamback in Time is a two year project that will bring the history of stammering to life – the great figures of the past and present who stammered, the way in which society viewed stammering – to challenge societal misconceptions, today, and provide a fun, educational resource for children and young people.

Working with the ASC Youth Panel, a group of young people who stammer, aged 13-25, from across the UK, we will look at the following two areas:

Stammering through History

Research well-know people throughout history both from the present and past who stammer, including:


George VI

Played by ASC Vice President Colin Firth in the Oscar winning ‘King’s Speech’, King George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. As the second son of King George V, he was not expected to inherit the throne, and in the mid-1920s, he had speech therapy for his stammer, which affected him his whole life. Due to the abdication of his brother Edward, George succeeded the throne as the third monarch of the House of Windsor.

Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 Nov 1874 – 24 Jan 1965) was a British statesman, army officer and writer. He served as Prime Minister of the UK from 1940-45 and from 1951-55. As Prime Minister, Churchill led Britain to victory in the Second World War. He was known to suffer from a stammer, but this didn’t hold him back making some of the most iconic speeches of recent times.

Ed Balls

Former Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, and ASC Vice President had an interesting political career, whilst also being very open later in his career about his stammer. Balls became an advisor to Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown in 1994, continuing in this role after Labour won the 1997 general election, and eventually becoming the Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury. At the 2005 general election, Balls was elected MP for Normanton, and in 2006 became Economic Secretary to the Treasury. When Brown became Prime Minister in 2007, Balls became Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, serving until 2010 where Labour were defeated in the general election. He was appointed Shadow Chancellor, a role he held until he was unseated at the 2015 general election.

Marilyn Monroe

A known stammerer, Marilyn Monroe was an American actress and model, born Norma Jean Mortenson. Although she was a top-billed actor for only a decade, her films grossed $200 million by the time of her unexpected death in 1962. More than half a century after her death, she continues to be considered a major popular culture icon.

Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt is a British actor born in London on 23 February 1983. From the age of seven she has struggled with a stammer and has been very vocal in her support for stammering awareness. Blunt made her professional debut in a 2001 London production of the play The Royal Family alongside Dame Judy Dench. She has since gone on to appear in a number of films including The Devil Wears Prada, and The Girl on the Train. She is set to portray Mary Poppins in the upcoming musical remake Mary Poppins Returns.

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran was born 17 February 1991 and is an English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. He was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire and raised in Framlingham, Suffolk. Sheeran is vocal about his stammer in childhood, but it hasn’t held him back from becoming one of the biggest selling artist of recent years. In 2015 Forbes put him as the 27th highest earning celebrity in the world earning $57 million.

A history of attitudes to stammering

One of the groups will research a more general history of stammering – how stammering has been viewed by society, the misunderstanding and superstition, stories and folk myths that grew around stammering, the various “cures” that have been proposed, and how this affected the lives of people who stammered. We will place the individuals we are researching into their more detailed historical context and use this to throw light on stammering today – how has greater understanding led to developments in therapy and changed how stammerers are viewed by society in general? What has the past taught us? And where do we go from here? The work will show how, despite facing prejudice and misconception, people who stammer have throughout history been able to succeed and contribute significantly to society.

The Outcome

The ASC Youth Panel will over the two year period produce a fun interactive microsite including online games, a leaflet and a celebratory launch and exhibition in 2020. Watch this space for further updates!


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