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My Dear Bessie A Love Story in Letters by Chris Barker, Bessie Moore, Simon Garfield

My Dear Bessie A Love Story in Letters

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Sue Baker's view...

My first reaction on first reading My Dear Bessie was to turn to the end to make sure that Chris, away at the war, didn’t get killed and that Bessie didn’t get bombed in an air-raid. Thankfully they both survived so I was able to read on through their entrancing letters. It is thanks to Simon Garfield that we know these letters; it was during the writing of his book To the Letter that he found their correspondence newly transferred to the Mass Observation archive. Not surprisingly readers of this book wanted to know more about Chris and Bessie and here is a generous selection of the letters. It was a love story played out against the odds, that the letters reached Chris was a minor miracle, that they survive we have Chris’s son Bernard to thank.

Like for Like Reading

Wives and Sweethearts: Love Letters Sent during Wartime, Alastair Massie & Frances Parker

To War with Whitaker: Wartime diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly 1939-1945, Hermione Ranfurly

Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. ‘Can you feel, as you read these words, that I am thinking of you now; aglow, alive, alert at the thought that you are in the same world, and by some strange chance loving me?’ The power of letters to irrevocably change lives is demonstrated most deeply by the wartime correspondence of Chris Barker and Bessie Moore. Former Post Office colleagues, their relationship began when Chris wrote Bessie a letter whilst on service in North Africa. What began platonically swiftly blossomed into a full-blown love affair, seen in its entirety, as over 500 letters survived. Though they only met twice before the war’s conclusion, they married; the sheer intensity of their mutual passion, set against the volatility of the war, is heady stuff indeed.
~ Amanda Hodges


My Dear Bessie A Love Story in Letters by Chris Barker, Bessie Moore, Simon Garfield

Twenty hours have gone since I last wrote. I have been thinking of you. I shall think of you until I post this, and until you get it. Can you feel, as you read these words, that I am thinking of you now; aglow, alive, alert at the thought that you are in the same world, and by some strange chance loving me. In September 1943, Chris Barker was serving as a signalman in North Africa when he decided to brighten the long days of war by writing to old friends. One of these was Bessie Moore, a former work colleague. The unexpected warmth of Bessie's reply changed their lives forever. Crossing continents and years, their funny, affectionate and intensely personal letters are a remarkable portrait of a love played out against the backdrop of the Second World War. Above all, their story is a stirring example of the power of letters to transform ordinary lives.


'What, one longs to know, is going to happen next to Chris and Bessie? ... The thrillingly intensive experience that they lived through will continue to resonate for as long as those sheets of paper are read' -- DIANA ATHILL Literary Review

'With Chris and Bessie it is the sheer, unclouded openness that captivates' -- John Carey The Sunday Times

About the Author

Chris Barker joined the Post Office at fourteen, working as a messenger boy and then as a counter clerk, becoming an active trade union member. He served as a signalman in North Africa during the Second World War.

Bessie Moore was a colleague of Chris Barker's at the Post Office, before working at the Foreign Office, using her training in Morse code to translate intercepted German radio messages. She was thirty when twenty-nine-year-old Chris first wrote from North Africa.

Simon Garfield is the author of fourteen acclaimed books of non-fiction including To the Letter, On the Map, and Just My Type. His edited diaries from the Mass Observation Archive, Our Hidden Lives, We Are At War and Private Battles, were bestsellers.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th February 2015


Chris Barker, Bessie Moore, Simon Garfield

More books by Chris Barker, Bessie Moore, Simon Garfield
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Canongate Books Ltd


384 pages


Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Second World War
Diaries, letters & journals
European history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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