Lecturer unearths Daniel Radcliffe’s family history in BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Rachel Lichtenstein explained the actor’s ancestral links to London’s jewellery quarter

Rachel Lichtenstein, Reader in English, told actor Daniel Radcliffe about his family ancestry

Rachel Lichtenstein, Reader in English, told actor Daniel Radcliffe about his family ancestry (image: Julian Woollatt)

The fascinating Jewish ancestry of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the London jewellery trade was revealed by a University lecturer in the latest episode of BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Rachel Lichtenstein, historian and Reader in English at Manchester Metropolitan, is the author of a 2012 book Diamond Street: the hidden world of Hatton Garden, which describes in detail both the deep history of this historic area and the previously unrecorded story of London’s famous jewellery quarter Hatton Garden.

In the latest instalment of the popular genealogy show, Lichtenstein shared historic records that outline Radcliffe’s great-grandfather’s successful career as a diamond merchant during the early 20th century, which takes a shocking turn as the documentary progresses.

She explained the origins of the of the Jewish jewellery trade in London, what life would have been like in the area at the time, and introduced Radcliffe to a current Hatton Garden jewellery worker.

He was genuinely fascinated by the area and its histories and it was a great experience to assist him on his research journey.

Lichtenstein’s book Diamond Street “intimately describes London’s secretive and mysterious jewellery quarter”, exploring “the London diamond bourse, underground gold vaults and Dickensian-looking jewellery workshops, as well as subterranean rivers, ancient burial sites and medieval crypts”.

She said: “My ancestry is also linked to the this area, my parents and grandparents all worked in Hatton Garden in the jewellery trade, meaning there was much I could share with Daniel Radcliffe about that world. He was genuinely fascinated by the area and its histories and it was a great experience to assist him on his research journey.”

Lichtenstein is a British artist, writer and curator who is internationally known for her books, multi-media projects and artworks that examine place, memory and identity. She is the author of several books, and works as an archivist and historian at London’s oldest Ashkenazi synagogue Sandys Row alongside her position at Manchester Met. 

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