Thursday, 19 December 2013


A major challenge that comes with delving into private, hand-written letters is the process of transcription. Arthur's letters home, dashed out in pencil between trips within earshot of the war at the 'Front, are infused with character.
Working across the collection with my 'Timewheel' I can see his handwriting style varying - shaped by the stress of battle and later, responsibility. Exposure to a particular 'hand' enables the transcriber to read what to the unfamiliar eye would be an indecipherable scrawl. Arthur was no scholar, his punctuation was often non-existent, but what he managed to place between the lines remains in place for us to interpret. At times it's as though we are reaching out across the last century toward each other - 'only just failing to touch. It's a remarkable feeling - quite a privilege.

May 1st, 1917
"I haven’t worked today. I have written quite a few letters, I don’t know if you have got them. I haven’t had any from England yet. The weather has been simply beautiful, much too beautiful for now.  We’re very close to the line here and see a lot of interesting things. I landed rather near the line today and was told that a house just next door had been blown up a few minutes before so I hopped into my machine and skidaddled as quick as I could. I am just about to have dinner it being 8 o’clock and I haven’t had any food since breakfast.
Love to all from Arthur"

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