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Secrets of the National Archives The Stories Behind the Letters and Documents of Our Past by National Archives

Secrets of the National Archives The Stories Behind the Letters and Documents of Our Past


Sue Baker's view...

The holdings of the National Archive at Kew involve 120 miles of paper– and in those vast archives there are many treasures, documents that illuminate our history. Highlighted here is a selection of these treasures ranging from the Magna Carta to a tragic telegram written from the sinking Titanic.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. What a treasure trove lies within the National Archives. It is a collection bursting with letters, photographs, art, telegrams, reports, diaries, sketches and secrets. Its contents, growing by the hour, stretch back to the early history of England and forward to the present age of mass information. Its groaning shelves, home to archivists and researchers, have been scoured, and selected records, which will intrigue and fascinate, are offered up here for our delight and information. Here, in full colour, is a kind of national museum in the form of a book in which interesting, curious and unique primary sources are displayed, and where the shocking and disturbing also feature. These select records from Britain and the world are illustrated, presented and described, and it makes an eclectic but fascinating mix. Among them are notes from heads of state, diplomatic files, indulgences sold by the church, and even the Special Branch file on George Orwell.
~ Jonathan North


Secrets of the National Archives The Stories Behind the Letters and Documents of Our Past by National Archives

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.

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'Secrets of The National Archives provides a fascinating sample of the extraordinary and often unexpected treasures which are the essence of our history.' -- Antony Beevor

About the Author

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th September 2014


National Archives

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Ebury Press an imprint of Ebury Publishing


304 pages


General & world history



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