|Description||Letters from Neville Chamberlain, to his sisters Ida and Hilda dated between 1906 and 1940. A few other items are including with some of the letters such as letters from Anne to Ida and Hilda; a few letters received by Neville Chamberlain from various other people; press cuttings; and election publicity material.|
The letters contain a great deal of evidence about the political and personal life of Neville Chamberlain, and are regarded by many historians as one of the principal sources about Neville, and a significant source in general about politics during the period covered by the letters. They have been referred to as 'diary letters', as like a personal diary they contain a detailed discussion of the events during each week.
Regularly discussed subjects in the letters about his political life include: Chamberlain's opinions on political events and topics; his thoughts about other politicians and others he met; speeches by Chamberlain and other politicians; House of Commons debates; letters received and sent by Chamberlain relating to politics; election campaigning; and the Conservative and Unionist Party organization.
Subjects about his personal life which are regularly discussed include: Chamberlain's family; his hobbies and interests including fishing and natural history; parties, dinners and other social events attended by Chamberlain; holidays including details of places visited and activities on holiday; anecdotes about interesting or humorous experiences; his health; his friends and acquaintances; and the weather. The letters also discuss his business interests.
Most of these letters have been transcribed in 'The Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters' edited by Robert Self and published in four volumes in 2005. The volumes also include: additional details and background information provided by footnotes for each letter; an introductory chapter on the events covered in the letters; and an index. However the volumes do not contain full transcriptions of the letters and often very large parts of the letters, indicated by ellipses in the transcriptions, are omitted. The omitted parts of the transcriptions are what Self considered as 'mundane material' such as discussion of travel plans and arrangements; descriptions of daily activities and places visited on holidays; and much of the non-political content such as about Chamberlain's family and personal interests. Some letters during the period covered by the volumes are entirely omitted because of these editing decisions, for example some letters sent during Chamberlain's holidays. Self considers however that 'little of any consequence has been removed from the text'.
See also NC1/16/2 for other letters from Neville to Ida Chamberlain, dated between 1890 and 1914.