The spiral-locked letters of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

Dambrogio, J., Starza Smith, D., Pellecchia, J., Wiggins, A. , Clarke, A. and Bryson, A. (2021) The spiral-locked letters of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. Electronic British Library Journal, 2021, 11. (doi: 10.23636/gyhc-b427)

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Abstract

This article presents evidence about the use of the 'spiral lock', a highly secure letterlocking mechanism used by Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and other letter-writers in early modern Europe, to secure their correspondence shut. After explaining the concept of letterlocking, a centuries-old communication security technique, we demonstrate how the spiral lock worked, using photographs, vector drawings, and videos alongside textual descriptions, and show both how the lock was made and how to recognize it in an archive. The findings are set in multiple contexts: letterlocking as a new field of study; new digital humanities research in the life and letters of Mary, Queen of Scots; and a major exhibition at the British Library on the intersecting lives of the two queens.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wiggins, Dr Alison and Bryson, Dr Alan
Authors: Dambrogio, J., Starza Smith, D., Pellecchia, J., Wiggins, A., Clarke, A., and Bryson, A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Journal Name:Electronic British Library Journal
Publisher:British Library
ISSN:1478-0259
ISSN (Online):1478-0259
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Electronic British Library Journal 2021:11
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
300690Archives and writing livesAlison WigginsArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/P009735/1Arts - English Language and Linguistics