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Through letters spanning 500 years, the latest exhibition With Love at The National Archives, will explore intimate written expressions of love from across the collection, offering insights into private worlds and personal relationships. Visitors can then explore the wider context of how these secret accounts became part of the collection at The National Archives, with examples of letters that were intercepted by police or found on captured ships. The exhibition will include a range of original documents, from a medieval or Tudor love song to letters sent during the First World War. Depicting feelings of love, loss, heartbreak and jealousy, exhibits feature recognisable historical figures alongside soldiers, diplomats and families facing separation.
Key documents include:
- The will of Anne Lister in which Lister left her substantial estate to Ann Walker.
- The Instrument of Abdication signed by Edward VIII, alongside a recording of Edward’s broadcast and an interpretation of the document by historian Anne Sebba.
- Love letter written by former Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald to Lady Margaret Sackville, a glamorous aristocrat.
The exhibition will be structured thematically and documents are presented under the themes reputation, sacrifice, separation, families, advice, heartache and legacy. It has been curated by a team of historians from The National Archives.
With Love will open at The National Archives on Valentine’s Day and runs until 5 July 2020. The exhibition will be accompanied by a selection of themed events, including curator-led tours.