Across the UK, 3,000 people are together creating a unique war memorial made only of words – and it’s all part of a national World War 1 commemoration project jointly led by Professor Kate Pullinger of Bath Spa University.
LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER is a new kind of ‘word’ memorial that invites the public to write a letter to a soldier. Not just any soldier, but the soldier who inspired the famous Charles Jagger war memorial on Platform One of Paddington Station in London.
More than 3,000 letters have been received so far and are published for the first time today (Thursday 26 June).
Letters have been submitted from schools, groups and individuals, by writers including Stephen Fry, Andrew Motion, Sheila Hancock, Andy McNab, Lee Child, Lesley Pearce and Malorie Blackman, and by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid.
The project was created by Bath Spa University Professor of Creative Writing and Digital Media, Kate Pullinger and Novelist and Theatre Director, Neil Bartlett. It was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, as part of the official cultural programme for the First World War centenary commemorations.
Kate and Neil are working with a group of editors at Bath Spa University to present a daily selection of featured letters. All letters will be searchable by name, theme and geographical origin.
Kate Pullinger said: “Neil and I set out to create something original and inspiring, a memorial that would give everyone a voice. It’s clearly struck a chord with people and the kind of themes and stories coming through are fascinating. We’ll be featuring many of these as the memorial builds over the coming days.”
Neil Bartlett said: “We are delighted that so many people have already felt moved to write their letters to the soldier. Over the next 37 days we hope that many more – from all over the country – will join them.”
Young people are encouraged to take part and offer their own voice to this memorial.
Teachers can download easily adaptable lesson plans for schools, relevant to English, History, Citizenship, Creative Writing and Drama curriculum areas. LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER will create a snapshot of how we view the First World War, one hundred years on.
At the end of the project the entire collection will be archived online at The British Library for generations to come.
Letters are being published on the website now and until the anniversary of the declaration of war on 4 August. Everyone can contribute their letter by submitting it to the website www.1418NOW.org.uk/letter or posting it to LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER, PO Box 73102, London EC1P 1TY.