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Love in the Archive: 'My Dear Bessie'

Twenty hours have gone since I last wrote. I have been thinking of you. I shall think of you until I post this, and until you get it. Can you feel, as you read these words,that I am thinking of you now; aglow, alive, alert at the thought that you are in the same world, and by some strange chance loving me.

In September 1943, Chris Barker was serving as a signalman in North Africa when he decided to brighten the long days of war by writing to old friends. One of these was Bessie Moore, a former work colleague. The unexpected warmth of Bessie's reply changed their lives forever. Crossing continents and years, their funny, affectionate and intensely personal letters are a remarkable portrait of a love played out against the backdrop of the Second World War. Above all, their story is a stirring example of the power of letters to transform ordinary lives

My Dear Bessie uses the Chris Baker collection, which was donated to The Mass Observation Archive by Chris and Bessie’s children. The book has been made into a radio drama and features Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey as Chris and Bessie.

 

 

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