After a quiet early childhood in Warwickshire, Susannah Walker attended five different secondary schools in the UK and Denmark in just over three years, surviving the experience to become Smash Hits Young Journalist of the Year in 1982 and then read English Literature at Trinity Hall, Cambridge two years later. Quite a lot of her time there was spent designing costumes for theatre productions. This led to an MA in the History of Art, run jointly by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art, where she spent a year out working for the Student Union and wrote a thesis about 1950s mass-produced tableware.
She carried on working for the Ceramics Department as a freelance curator and after two exhibitions, one with an accompanying book (Queensberry Hunt: Creativity and Industry, Fourth Estate, 1992), and a small bit of journalism, she started working as a TV researcher, initially in the field of art and design – a diversion which ended up as a career.
She first spent three years at the BBC, working as a researcher on The History of British Art with Andrew Graham-Dixon, the interior design series Home Front, then making films about architecture and design for The Late Show. After this, she went freelance and spent four years working on Changing Rooms, ending up as the show’s producer. Following this, she worked on a variety of different series for both the BBC and commercial channels, in areas ranging from archaeology and food, to observational documentary and decluttering. Her experience includes developing new formats and running large series with multi-million pound budgets, as well as casting new talent, fixing programmes that have gone wrong and painting lots of walls.
After the birth of her daughter in 2006, Susannah gradually stepped back from working in television. Since then, she have written two books for Shire (HOME FRONT POSTERS and 1950s MODERN, both 2012) and set up a website about vintage posters (Quad Royal – vintageposterblog.com), which is now recognised as one of the leading resources on the subject. From this, she has lectured on design in a range of places including the National Army Museum, Compton Verney Art Gallery and the Marks & Spencer archive. In addition, she has been licensing the work of the designer Daphne Padden for a range of homewares and stationery, as well as holding her archive.
During this period, she has also project managed the refurbishment of a rundown seventeenth century coaching inn into her family home and written two novels, working with both Lindsay Clarke and Andrew Miller as mentors. The second of these was shortlisted in a Mumsnet/Janklow & Nesbit writing competition in 2015.