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Written in History

A collection of the greatest letters in history, charting world-shaping events and revealing the unique personalities of some of history’s most famous figures.

WRITTEN IN HISTORY celebrates the great letters of world history, creative culture and personal life. Acclaimed historian Simon Sebag Montefiore selects over one hundred letters from ancient times to the twenty-first century: some are noble and inspiring, some despicable and unsettling; some are exquisite works of literature, others brutal, coarse and frankly outrageous; many are erotic, others heartbreaking. The writers vary from Elizabeth I, Rameses the Great and Leonard Cohen to Emmeline Pankhurst, Mandela, Stalin, Michelangelo, Suleiman the Magnificent and unknown people in extraordinary circumstances – from love letters to calls for liberation, declarations of war to reflections on death. In the colourful, accessible style of a master storyteller, Montefiore shows why these letters are essential reading: how they enlighten our past, enrich the way we live now – and illuminate tomorrow.

‘Very moving’ THE TIMES
‘Entertaining and enlightening’ THE DAILY MAIL
‘Astonishing’ THE ARTS DESK


‘Entertaining and enlightening … Some [letters] are truly revolutionary and visionary … Others are very personal … but all are fascinating, as are the compiler’s comments on each letter, little gems of potted history in their own right’ Tony Rennell. History Books of the Year, DAILY MAIL

‘If you loved Ernst Gombrich’s A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD and are in the mood for another potted global history from a different angle, this collection of historically significant letters through the ages compiled by Simon Sebag Montefiore might well hit the spot … he has distilled a few millennia of world history into 240 extremely un-boring pages … Sebag Montefiore has an eye for the spicy, the horrifying, the passionate and the shocking … very moving’ Ysenda Maxtone Graham, THE TIMES

‘WRITTEN IN HISTORY is a search through the millennia, the result an astonishing array: all human life is here encapsulated, in just a few paragraphs or even just a sentence; all are surprising, and mostly unfamiliar … Everything here is a revelatory marvel, whether a hideous rant from the Marquis de Sade (1783), or the impassioned logic of religious tolerance from Babur to his son Hamayun (1529). Truly the spectrum of human belief and behaviour is revealed in this selection’ Marina Vaizey, THE ARTS DESK

Written in History