Book Cover front“THE NORFOLK MILLER’S DAUGHTER”                                       by                                                        JOHN D SLATER

   A wife in ten-thousand that’s how Sir James Reckitt described Ann, his mother – but many would say she was a wife in a million and Hull’s unsung heroine.
If it hadn’t been for Ann – a Norfolk miller’s daughter, Hull would have been a poorer place and thousands upon thousands of people would not have had steady jobs.
This biographical novel is her untold story; from a childhood, when her mother was left a widow with six daughters – to being the wife and mother who held the family together thus ensuring the prosperity of the
business enterprise, now known all over the World and bearing the name –  Reckitt. 

Now available to be read at Hull & East Riding public libraries.

UK Price £7.50 – Shipping £1.50.

Available also  at The Georgian Rooms, 56 High Street , Bridlington Old Town YO16 4QA.

Or by post from John D Slater, Apartment 4 – 3 Sands Lane, Bridlington, YO15 2JG. Cheques payable to John D Slater. Enquiries – tel  01262 601456   – email

Under the title “A Wife In Ten Thousand” the author is available to give a 60 min presentation to interest and social groups. This will cover the research and background to the book plus readings from the book. Fee by arrangement. Call 01262 601456.

“A Wife In Ten Thousand” is being given during Hull City Of Culture year on Tuesday October 24th – Carnegie Heritage Centre 342 Anlaby Road Hull HU3 6JA
7.30pm Admission £2.50
Further information. Tel 01482 561216

Preface from the book is below.

Preface by the author

Up to the year 2014 few people in The British Isles – and others world wide, would have not been able to go to their medicine cabinet, the cupboard under the kitchen sink, or to a shelf in the utility room and not find at least one product bearing, somewhere on the label, the name Reckitt. Amongst many others, it could be Dettol, Harpic, Airwick Cilit-Bang, Calgon, Finish, Strepsils, Nurofen, Gaviscon and now Scholl products.

From 1840 – to 1938 the company was known as Isaac Reckitt and Sons, and then simply Reckitt and Sons. From 1938 – to 1999 it would have been Reckitt & Colman and from 1999 to 2014 Reckitt Benckiser.

Alas, from 2014, the name Reckitt disappears from the label and the company has simply become RB; though now probably one of the biggest domestic and pharmaceutical product manufacturers in Europe – and throughout the world.

But if it hadn’t been for a miller’s daughter from Norfolk, it’s probable that, none of it would have happened.

She was born Ann Colby in 1798 – met Isaac Reckit in 1817 and became Ann Reckitt in 1818. From then on she was to be Isaac’s strength and stay, upholding not only him, in all aspects of the ups and downs of his life but her son’s and daughters as well.

Ann was described by her son Sir James Reckitt as a wife in ten thousand. He also referred to her as a heroine.

From their humble beginnings she had a practical interest in the well-being of their workers; at one time even taking classes in reading and writing for employees who lacked the basic skills. Few families from the Hull area would not have, at some point in time, at least one member of their family involved in the manufacture of Reckitt products; to have a job with Reckitts was thought to be quite something and Reckitts treated their workers very well.

Sir James Reckitt was said to have announced to the board one day that he considered it a poor show, that when they lived in quality houses, their workers lived in comparative squalor; and so came into being Hull’s Garden Village – decent housing for their workers. It is still today one of the prides of Hull.

In 2001 the author met Isaac & Ann’s great grandson, Basil Reckitt – then aged 96, whose books, kindly loaned to the author, have revealed much about his great grandparents; though much had been written about the company and its growth, it was from this meeting that the seed of an idea was planted to tell Ann’s story.

At that time the author was living in Boston, in a house on the banks of one of Lincolnshire’s many waterways; a little further along that waterway, known as The Maude Foster, was a windmill – still in operation producing flour to this day; it was one of Isaac Reckitt’s early endeavours.

Isaac and Ann were to spend the first 11 years of their married lives in Boston, place of the mill and where the first four of their children would have been born.

It’s a long way from Boston to the French Riviera town of Menton, the place where our story opens and where Ann and Isaac’s son has been taken to see if he can be cured of the dreaded disease consumption, which eventually came to be known as tuberculosis.

The year is 1862 and Ann has just had the news delivered to her by telegram, that her beloved husband Isaac, who had previously been with them at Menton but returned to Hull, subsequently becoming ill and has died.

Much of the research for this book has been gleaned from a journal which Ann kept whilst they were staying on the Riviera; some of the words in the story being taken directly from her own writings. Other material has been gleaned from visiting the various locations.

Where the facts have been available, they have been used but the colouring of the story and filling the gaps are from the imaginings of the author.

Thanks for help go to Dr.Roger Rolls – for information on the history of Bath Hospital and mineral water treatments; Gordon Stephenson (Reckitt Archives) for help with research. Basil Reckitt and his wife Mary for loan of books and background. Ruth Whatley and Carole A Holmes for moral support and acting as proof-readers.


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A Desire To Entertain”

by John D Slater.

Cover outside“I came into the business by way of school plays, church  concerts, scout gang shows, amateur dramatics and morris dancing; yes morris dancing.

At the time of the writing of this book it was 30 years after launching our own production company – that is to say in partnership with my business partner and mentor – Colin Bean – who’s main claim to “fame” was that he played the part of “Private Sponge” in 73 episodes of “Dad’s Army”

The book is dedicated to him.

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“God Loves People And The People Who Love People – And The People Who Love People – Love God”                            

by John D Slater


This book could best be described as a journey; you might even say – journey into enlightenment – for certainly the picture becomes clearer each day. But enlightenment does tend to suggest the final bit of the process – the end of the journey – and I’m certainly not ready for that – yet!

But – like any journey, it has its ups and downs; its “wrong” turnings and its weary-some parts – so mine has too. Also like any journey has its exhilarating glimpses of the sheer wonder and glory you see out of your “window” – but a journey also presents us with the “tunnels” the darkness – the fog – the mist and the rain. But then again, when you look back – you see it all as part of the process. I hope you can share with me, the things in this book – though I have to give due warning here and now – some things might tend to make you “raise your eyebrows” – but not too highly I hope.

Purchase online by PayPal, UK price: £3.50
Or – send cheque/PO to
Bijou Enterprises,  Apt.4 – 3 Sands Lane, Bridlington, YO15 2JG.

The download facility will be sent to you by email – please allow two days.


**Coming soon to this page – other of our  “books” for you to online:-

Titles will include.

“Natasha’s Magic Clock & Other Stories”

“Mrs. Moses”