26 November 2012

The correspondence of Bess of Hardwick (Elizabeth, countess of Shrewsbury) will be explored in a new exhibition at The National Archives - Unsealed: The Letters of Bess of Hardwick.

One of Elizabethan England's most famous figures, Bess of Hardwick was an influential matriarch and dynast, lady at Elizabeth I's court, and the builder of great stately homes like Hardwick Hall. All of the Elizabethan world populated her letters: dukes and spies, queens and servants, friends and lovers. She wrote hundreds of letters throughout her life - they were her lifeline to her travelling children and husbands, to the court at London and news from the world at large.

A display of portraits and letter facsimiles in our reading rooms will bring Bess and her correspondents to life, and visitors can further explore Bess's world through a series of podcasts on food, fashion and gossip - available via listening stations in the reading rooms.

To mark the launch of the exhibition, Dr Alison Wiggins will be giving a free talk on the letters at The National Archives on 29 November at 14:00, where there will also be the chance to see some of Bess's original letters.

Unsealed: The Letters of Bess of Hardwick can be seen at The National Archives from Tuesday 27 November 2012 to the end of February 2013. The exhibition is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and is supported by the National Trust and the University of Glasgow.

Find out more

AHRC Letters of Bess of Hardwick Project 

Unsealed: The Podcasts 

Dr Alison Wiggin's talk

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