“With Love”, National Archives Exhibit (online)

January 20, 2021 at 10:46 am (entertainment, history, news, postal history) (, , , )


Received in my email last week the Newsletter of The National Archives (Kew, England). They have a wonderful *new* ONLINE exhibition centered on their collection of LETTERS!

With Love – Letters of Love, Loss and Longing” covers the famous (Queen Elizabeth I; Anne Lister), as well as the personal and poignant (World War I, for instance).

You can EXPLORE on your own the various topics; or TOUR – the latter can be accomplished with a short Youtube introduction. I watched this presentation last week, and remember one thought that I wanted to add to the presenter’s thoughts, as regards Anne Lister and Ann Walker:

When Anne Lister left her estate to Ann Walker – which Ann would forfeit IF she married, the main meaning stressed, because of lover Mariana Belcombe’s marriage to Charles Lawton, would have been calling upon Ann Walker not to marry a man (the only definition of marriage, as recognized by church and state, at the time of Lister’s will). A significant difference to the speaker’s “should she [Ann Walker] ever marry again“.

I will also point out, again in speaking of Anne Lister and Ann Walker in the youtube presentation — friend had a different connotation in the 19th century. Think of the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams, “My dearest friend.” Certainly, Anne Lister could not have called Ann Walker her “wife” in her will, but there was a “closeness” of relationship inherent in the word friend which we (in the 21st century) have lost.

The nuance of language…

This online exhibition will open doors to new letter-writers, and for all of us to put on our thinking caps and contemplate further how such short tidbits coalesce into a greater, historical whole.

The exhibition, in TNA’s own words:

In our latest exhibition, love letters offer glimpses into private worlds – from a queen’s treasonous love letter, to the generous wish of a naval hero and the forlorn poetry of a prime minister. Expect secret stories of heartbreak, passion and disappointment as you explore 500 years of letters in this intimate exhibition.”

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