Audible, The National Archives and Bloomsbury are to release In Their Own Words, an exclusive collection of largely unpublished letters from throughout history.
Covering centuries of protest, scandal, cultural revolution and technological innovation, the series gives audiences an "intimate window into the past", documenting momentous events through personal letters from well-known figures and ordinary citizens alike. Bringing together "some of the world’s most shocking, funny and poignant writing", the collection spans some 500 years including writings such as Catherine Howard’s adulterous love notes and the letter that marked the start of Nelson Mandela’s trial.
With around 80 pieces curated by Dr Hester Vaizey, publishing manager at The National Archives, the collection is grouped into six thematic chapters: ‘Companions, Comrades, Lovers’, ‘Espionage & Deception’, ‘Allies, Diplomacy & Foreign Relations’, ‘Protest, Revolution & Rebellion’, ‘Scandals, Loopholes & Murder’ and ‘Cultural, Technological Change’.
Notable highlights include a letter from Churchill to Roosevelt asking for America’s support during the Second World War, letters from the Ford Dagenham women rallying one another to strike for equal pay, a letter sent to the Houses of Parliament warning MPs of the gunpowder plot and cryptic letters sent to the police from ‘Jack The Ripper’.
Working with some of Britain’s "best loved performers", In Their Own Words has been brought to life by a BAFTA and Tony award-winning cast including Miriam Margolyes, Indira Varma, Martin Shaw, Daniel Mays, David Haig and Rhashan Stone amongst others.
Vaizey said: “Reading old letters can feel like stepping into a time machine, taking us back to the moment when the author set down their thoughts and feelings on paper. Letters contain the full array of human emotions, from love to hate, from fear to excitement. This anthology of letters has been selected from the 126 shelf-miles of documents held in The National Archives and offers a fascinating insight into the lives of men and women who are no longer with us.”
Tracey Markham, UK country manager at Audible, said: “We’re thrilled to have worked with the National Archives and Bloomsbury to bring such a unique and compelling collection of letters to life. From Churchill to the Kray Twins, it’s packed with a weird and wonderful selection of writings, narrated by some of Britain’s finest performers. Whether you fancy a bit of history on the way home from work, or want something to make you feel inspired on your morning run, it’s a great listen for every occasion.”
In Their Own Words is available as an audiobook (priced at £14.99, or free for subscribers), hardback (priced at £20.00) or e-book (priced at £17.99).