Letters to Santa: the winners
Following the success of 2020’s Postcards from the Past competition, BBC History Revealed, with HistoryExtra.com, launched a festive competition for children aged 6-13 designed to challenge their historical knowledge and inspire their imaginations
Their task: to write a letter to Santa from the perspective of a historical person telling him what they’ve been doing over the past 12 months and what they would like him to bring them for Christmas.
Yet again, we’ve been amazed by the enthusiasm, artistic talent, imagination and level of historical knowledge shown in the entries submitted. Sadly, there could be only 10 winners, whose entries you can read below.
Whether their Christmas wishes will be fulfilled remains to be seen (he might manage a new lamp for Florence Nightingale, but it’s doubtful America or France would fit inside the sleigh), but regardless, we’d like to say a huge thank you and well done to everyone who entered – your letters brought many smiles to the magazine team. And congratulations to all 10 winners – you each win a £20 book token and a framed copy of your letter.
Editor, BBC History Revealed
Name: Violeta Puyana-Batlle
Writing as: Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kent
Judges’ comments: “Great to see a less well-known figure from history featured”
Could I prithee have some herbs for my ointments and remedies? For I have run out and thou have everything, right? Many people in these Stuart times are getting sick because of the plague. Over yonder in the North Pole is it all right? Thank you very much.
The Countess of Kent, Elizabeth Grey of Wrest Park
Name: Electra Parry
Writing as: Ignatius Sancho
Judges’ comments: “Excellent historical detail”
I’ve been very good this year. It’s been a good year for me: I’ve ceased to be a valet and my sixth child, Katherine, was born. Santa, I know this is a big ask, but my wish this year is to have the right to vote in the General Election next year, and to become the first black Briton in history to vote.
Ignatius Sancho, also known as “the extraordinary black man”
- Read more: | Black history
Name: Ben Chick
Writing as: Henry VIII
Judges’ comments: “Sounds like Henry VIII is probably on Santa’s naughty list!”
I’ve been very good this year, destroying the abbeys, killing my wives and getting rid of the pope. For Christmas, I would like money, France and more power. If you don’t give me this, I’ll make myself Santa instead.
Name: Lily Mitchell
Writing as: Walt Disney
Judges’ comments: “Superb Mickey Mouse drawing!”
My name is Walt Disney. I am very keen on animation for children and have come up with the idea of Mortimer mouse, but my wife, Lillian, prefers Mickey. What do you think? I am writing this letter in October because we will be filming in November and I want to make a pre-Christmas wish. For my Christmas wish, I would like you to make my mouse famous.
- Read more | The real history behind 6 Disney films
Name: Evelyn Adams
Writing as: Samuel Pepys
Judges’ comments: “Fantastic use of imagination”
In September, fire destroyed most of London. I buried my prized wheel of Parmesan cheese in my garden, but when I dug it up, it was covered in maggots! Please may I have a new one for Christmas? And please may you bring a cake for Mrs Pepys because the bakers in Pudding Lane burnt down.
Name: Amy Wiggin
Writing as: Emperor Nero
Judges’ comments: “Mothers everywhere should feel nervous after reading this!”
I have had the worst year! My mother kept telling me what to do and it annoyed me, so I accidentally had her murdered. I really miss her. Please give me a new mummy for Christmas. I promise to look after this one.
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
- Read more | The 8 bloodiest Roman emperors in history
Discover more about the history of Christmas!
- Who is Santa Claus?
- Why do we eat turkey at Christmas?
- Who invented Christmas crackers?
- Everything you want to know about the history of Christmas
- What was Christmas like in the Victorian era?
- Listen: Christmas ghost stories
- A real castle for Christmas: 5 places to explore and stay this festive season
- What did people eat for Christmas dinner in the past?
Name: Sophie Large
Writing as: Mary Anning
Judges’ comments: “Great choice of character and a very reasonable Christmas request!”
I have been very good this year. I have found the fossils of a plesiosaur and an ichthyosaur, which means ‘fish lizard’. I am very pleased to have discovered them, and I sold them to the museum, but nobody has been told that it was I that found them. Please help me get more recognition for it, and I need a new hammer, for mine is cracked.
Name: Scarlett Rose Daniels
Writing as: George III
Judges’ comments: “Very funny!”
This is your current king speaking, so be good or I will have you locked up. This year is a simple list. The first one is America. I lost it last year but I was silly back then. This last one is my favourite because I love them so much. It is (drum roll, please!) a scrumptious banana.
King George III
P.S. Don’t bring my son any more socks, he buys too many.
Listen: On this podcast, historian Andrew Roberts busts some of the myths that have surrounded King George III
Name: Lucy Considine
Writing as: Amelia Earhart
Judges’ comments: “Loved the detailed drawing”
For Christmas I would like:
A fur-lined coat
Map of the world
I have practiced for my around the world flight by doing trips across the Pacific and officially becoming the first woman to cross the Atlantic solo.
P.S. It would really help if I had this stuff.
- Read more | What happened to Amelia Earhart?
Name: Benedict Adams
Writing as: Florence Nightingale
Judges’ comments: “The Lady with the Lamp definitely needs her lamp!”
I am in Scutari nursing soldiers. I dropped my lamp at night in the ward and it smashed. Please may I have a new lamp and some oranges for the soldiers who have scurvy?
From Florence Nightingale
Charlotte Hodgman is the editor of BBC History Revealed and HistoryExtra's royal newsletter. She was previously deputy editor of BBC History Magazine and makes the occasional appearance on the HistoryExtra podcast