During the late 1980s, a collection of sixteenth-century merchant letters appeared for sale. Over four sales at Christie's, the letters, all addressed to the Corsini firm of London merchants, were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Thankfully, copies were made of each of the letters, which gave an insight into Tudor life both in Britain and abroad, and these were placed in the Guildhall Library, London. Comprising some 3,600 letters and other documents, the Corsini letters form the largest extant archive for any English merchants of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Although philatelic essays have been published on aspects of the archive, The Corsini Letters is the first book to look at the archive as a whole, detailing why it is important, giving a breakdown of the contents of the letters, and yielding a fascinating insight into Elizabethan life. Containing everything from letters about pirates and spices to one of the very early communication from the small West African island of San Thome, the archive is destined to become an important research tool for those interested in this period of history.
Philip Beale is the author of England's Mail, he lives in Liphook, Hampshire. He has also written on the postal history of Sierra Leone. Mike Scott-Archer lives in Brecon and is an acknowledged expert of Elizabethan postal history. Adrian Almond is a retired doctor whose passion is Elizabethan maps. He lives in Devon.