Richard Taylor was born in 1967. He studied English at Cambridge University and Law at London University, and now lives and works as a lawyer in Sheffield. He is the author of the bestselling book How To Read A Church and presenter of the BBC4 series Churches: How To Read Them, inspired by his book.
The National Archives is one of the most remarkable collections of documents in the world, holding over 120 miles of papers. In 2010 the staff at the Archives were asked to select their favourite document. The results of this poll form the basis of this book, skilfully curated by bestselling author Richard Taylor. Each of the documents has a timeless quality, acting as a true testament to a moment in history. The Magna Carta is a document sealed in a damp field in Surrey, yet is deferred to centuries later by Governments and Courts around the world; a parchment letter written by a terrified young girl pleading for her life paves the way for the girl to become Elizabeth I; the first example of musical notation is discovered on the back of another document; the actual telegram sent from a sinking Titanic remains heart-rending today; a ship's log written by Captain Cook, at anchor in Botany Bay, records his first encounter with Australian Aborigines. Far from being dusty documents from the past, these papers twinkle with life and resonate powerfully today. Fully illustrated, this book allows us to glimpse history as it really happened.