Have you ever written an email in anger or in jest, and then decided it would be better not to send it? Where do your drafts go? And if a social historian were to compare it with the sent version of the email in years to come, what would they think? And what if only the draft survived – would it present you in a drastically different light?
Here at The National Archives we can make such a comparison for none other than Queen Elizabeth I, as we hold a draft letter addressed to the earl and countess of Shrewsbury that was evidently considered to be too frivolous to be sent, while the final version of the letter survives in Lambeth Palace Library. 1
- 1. The reference for the draft letter is The National Archives, State Papers 53/10, folios 9-12, (item 84). The reference for the sent letter is Lambeth Palace Library, MS 3206, folio 819. All quotations from the letters are from modernised transcriptions in Elizabeth I: Collected Works, eds Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller and Mary Beth Rose (London: University of Chicago Press, 2000), pp. 229-231. ^