Audible has been making audiobooks lately of some very unconventional things. Nothing personifies their new direction then the new partnership with The National Archives and Bloomsbury. Right now you can listen to letters written by Churchill, Catherine Howard, ‘Jack the Ripper’, the Ford Dagenham women and more.
Audible, The National Archives and Bloomsbury today debut In Their Own Words, an exclusive collection of largely unpublished letters from throughout history. Covering centuries of protest, scandal, cultural revolution and technological innovation the series gives audiences an intimate window into the past, documenting momentous events through personal letters from well-known figures and ordinary citizens alike. Bringing together some of the world’s most shocking, funny and poignant writing, the collection spans some 500 years including everything from Catherine Howard’s adulterous love notes, to the letter that marked the start of Nelson Mandela’s trial.
With around 80 pieces expertly curated by Dr Hester Vaizey, the collection is grouped into six, thematic chapters: ‘Companions, Comrades, Lovers’, ‘Espionage & Deception’, ‘Allies, Diplomacy & Foreign Relations’, ‘Protest, Revolution & Rebellion’, ‘Scandals, Loopholes & Murder’ and ‘Cultural, Technological Change’. Notable highlights include (full contents in Notes to Editors):
- A letter from Churchill to Roosevelt asking for America’s support during WWII
- Letters from the Ford Dagenham women rallying one another to strike for equal pay
- A letter sent to the Houses of Parliament warning MPs of the gunpowder plot
- Letters sent to the Home Office urging for the decriminalization of homosexuality in the 1960s
- Letters lamenting ‘class antagonism’ aboard the Titanic after its fateful maiden voyage
- Cryptic letters sent to the police from ‘Jack The Ripper’
- A letter from Idi Amin to Queen Elizabeth II inviting her to celebrate Ugandan independence
Working with some of Britain’s best loved performers, In Their Own Words has been beautifully brought to life by a BAFTA and Tony award winning cast including Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter), Indira Varma (Game Of Thrones), Martin Shaw (Judge John Deed), Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs), David Haig (Four Weddings & A Funeral), Robert Bathurst (Downton Abbey) and Rhashan Stone (Desmond’s) amongst others (full list in Notes to Editors).
Tracey Markham, UK Country Manager at Audible, said: “We’re thrilled to have worked with the National Archives and Bloomsbury to bring such a unique and compelling collection of letters to life. From Churchill to the Kray Twins, it’s packed with a weird and wonderful selection of writings, narrated by some of Britain’s finest performers. Whether you fancy a bit of history on the way home from work, or want something to make you feel inspired on your morning run, it’s a great listen for every occasion.”
Dr Hester Vaizey, Publishing Manager at The National Archives, said: “Reading old letters can feel like stepping into a time machine, taking us back to the moment when the author set down their thoughts and feelings on paper. Letters contain the full array of human emotions, from love to hate, from fear to excitement. This anthology of letters has been selected from the 126 shelf-miles of documents held in The National Archives and offers a fascinating insight into the lives of men and women who are no longer with us.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.