Chris and Bessie…. to a letter….

In e.mail correspondence with Bernard Barker, a friend and education colleague today, he told me that much to his surprise, his father’s wartime letters to his mother have gained recent literary success.  He told me that after his father’s death, he had …

“… deposited 500 letters (fully archived) at Mass Observation – they have been found and published in Simon Garfield’s To The Letter (see here ); and promoted assiduously in various ways. The reviews, from the Washington Post to the Guardian have celebrated my parents as wonderful writers and now there is talk of a freestanding book and an audio version with Benedict and Kerry Fox. I had envisaged the letters providing verite for second world war historians in years to come, the odd footnote; I had not anticipated a sensation. The experience is surreal but very exciting and enjoyable…..”

Here is Benedict Cumberbatch reading from one of the letters:

Here is a link to the reviews:


Washington Post

While there’s inevitably a slightly intrusive feeling about listening in on intimate conversation (unless it’s a publicity seeking celebrity), there is something about this intimacy that warms the spirit – it is a gift from those who have passed away to us who still live.

Thank you Bessie and Chris and and thank you Bernard.  Your sharing has enriched us all.


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