Thursday, 25 March 2010


That's a key principle for me in this job.

Here's a for instance: my very first day in the cages, I picked up a silver grey box at random...this was before a lot of the material had been properly catalogued. The box was marked "R" , and contained mid nineteenth century correspondence from people whose name began with "R".

I pick up a letter from Lord Raglan.

Now Lord Raglan, at the time he wrote to Murray, has just been appointed commander in chief of the joint Anglo-French expeditionery force which is going to the Crimea to protect (supposedly) Catholic shrines in Turkey from the encroachments of the big bad Russian bear.

His Lordship was later to become famous for a) forgetting that the French were on the same side, b) sending the Light Brigade up the WRONG valley at Balaclava...

And what's he writing for?

He wants a guidebook to Turkey.


That's archive serendipity...the congruence of personality and history captured in the moment of writing a thouroughly incongruous letter...and then, 150 odd years later, me coming along and snickering.

I'll be on the lookout for stuff like that. Let you know what I find.

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