Archives and archivists audio

Whether you’re an archivist, researcher or interested in the field, experts from The National Archives and elsewhere offer insights into archival history, records and the challenges archives face.

  • Audio contentA podcast about the court case that banned Radclyffe Hall's book 'The Well of Loneliness', a 1920s lesbian novel.

    Unfolding the court case that banned a 1920s lesbian novel

    In 1928 Radclyffe Hall wrote ‘The Well of Loneliness’, a novel that featured female characters in same-sex relationships. Shortly after it was published, the Sunday Express called for the book to be suppressed and urged the Home Office to censor it. Despite […]

  • Audio contentBill to amend the law relating to homosexual offences 1961, Catalogue reference HO291 125 1.

    The Sexual Offences Act 1967. Part 2: Wolfenden’s silent women

    On 27 July 2017, The National Archives held a day of talks to mark the 50th anniversary of the royal assent of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales. In this recording, Caroline Derry […]

  • Audio contentMap noting the locations of urinals in London where arrests were made during 1953

    The Sexual Offences Act 1967. Part 1: The lives of men from 1953 to the 1967 Act

    On 27 July 2017, The National Archives held a day of talks to mark the 50th anniversary of the royal assent of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales. In this recording, Sammy Sturgess discusses […]

  • Audio contentA photograph of Jane Austen from an old print, 1905. Catalogue reference: COPY1/487/457

    Jane Austen: from beginning to end

    To commemorate the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death in 1817, Professor Fiona Stafford delivered a talk on Austen’s life and work at the The National Archives, where Austen’s original will is held. Fiona Stafford is a professor of English Language and […]

  • Audio contentA podcast about Catherine Howard's last letter to Thomas Culpeper

    A tormented Tudor queen’s treasonous ‘love letter’

    In this episode, Neil Johnston and Christopher Day discuss a letter written by Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, to Thomas Culpeper, a groom of the King’s Privy chamber. The document was part of a body of evidence collected against Catherine […]

  • Audio contentA podcast about a letter seized from an LGBT-friendly club in 1930s Soho

    Sexuality under scrutiny in 1930s Soho

    In 1934, homosexual acts between men – in public and in private – were illegal in the UK. Police surveilled a number of social spaces across London suspected of permitting what the state then considered to be ‘immoral activity’ and in August conducted […]

  • Audio contentA photograph of a note addressed to Oscar Wilde. Catalogue reference: CRIM 1/41/6/1895

    Oscar Wilde’s trial and imprisonment – a short play

    This short play explores the trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. In 1895 the celebrated author and playwright was found guilty of gross indecency and sentenced to two years imprisonment, with hard labour. The words are taken directly from records […]

  • Audio contentA podcast about civilian bravery during the First and Second World Wars

    Bombs, bulls and civilian bravery

    In this podcast The National Archives’ Principal Military Specialist reveals some of his favourite stories about civilian gallantry from the First and Second World Wars, from the bravery of the youngest recipient of the George medal to a bizarre tale involving a bomb and some table […]

  • Audio contentA photograph of a newspaper clipping detaiing the first  VD prosecution

    ‘A Bit of a Scratch’, a radio drama about the battle against Venereal Disease during the First World War

    ‘A Bit of a Scratch’ explores the first recorded prosecution under the Venereal Diseases Act 1917. The legislation was introduced due to the large numbers, roughly 5%, of UK troops returning from the First World War with venereal diseases and to […]

  • Audio contentA podcast about medieval treason and magic

    Medieval treason and magic

    In this podcast, two of our records specialists tell us about treason and necromancy in The National Archives’ medieval records. The first part, narrated by Paul Dryburgh, tells the story of a band of men from Coventry who planned to kill King Edward II […]

  • Audio contentAn image of the front cover of the book Dadland.

    ‘Dadland’: the father who was also an undercover guerrilla agent

    Keggie Carew discusses her book ‘Dadland’, a story about a madcap English childhood, the poignant breakdown of a family, and dementia. The novel centres upon her father Tom Carew, an enigmatic, unorthodox character, who was an undercover guerrilla agent during the […]

  • Audio contentA photograph of a 'Boycott Apartheid' bus

    Black British politics and the Anti-Apartheid struggle

    In 1948, from the introduction of apartheid in South Africa, racial discrimination galvanized the international community into protest. British people and black communities in particular attempted to lead the global opposition against apartheid. Historian Dr Elizabeth Williams (Goldsmiths, University of […]

  • Audio contentSomme to Arras

    From the Somme to Arras

    Andrew Lock discusses the progress made by the British Expeditionary Forces between the battles of the Somme (1916) and Arras (1917). Although lessons were learned during the Somme campaign, Arras clearly exposed command and preparation deficiencies, leading to setbacks and […]

  • Audio contentA podcast about Whitehall's official government cats

    Bureau-cats: A short history of Whitehall’s official felines

    Public interest in the cats of Whitehall began long before Larry, Palmerston and Gladstone graced our front pages and Twitter feeds. In this podcast, records specialist Christopher Day reveals his favourite anecdotes from the ‘Home Office Cat’ files, including the story behind the […]

  • Audio contentPrivate-Lives-of-the-Tudors-small

    Tracy Borman on ‘The Private Lives of the Tudors’

    Tracy Borman reveals how the Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers, even in their most private moments. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, […]

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