In May this year, as the world was locking down, BBC History Revealed, with HistoryExtra, launched a competition for children aged 6–13 designed to challenge their historical knowledge and imagination. Their task: to write and draw a postcard from the perspective of a historical person living in a past lockdown.
The response has been amazing, with more than 600 children across the UK putting pen to paper and channelling their inner historians. The panel of judges was bowled over by the sheer variety of characters chosen – from Elizabeth I, Blackbeard the pirate and Martin Luther King, to Ötzi the Iceman, Boudicca and Samuel Pepys – as well as the artistic talent, imagination and breadth of historical knowledge.
Sadly, there could be only ten winners, whose postcards you can see below, as well as some bonus ‘highly commended’ entries. A huge thank you and well done to everyone who entered – your postcards brought many smiles to the whole magazine team.
Congratulations to all ten winners! All ten winning postcards will be published in the October issue of BBC History Revealed – on sale from 3 September.
Editor, BBC History Revealed
The 10 winners
The following ten winners (in no particular order) all win a framed version of their postcard, a HistoryExtra T-shirt and a water bottle!
Writing as: Mary, Queen of Scots
Judges’ comments: “Captured the relationship between the two queens very well”
Dear Elizabeth, my frenemy,
I’m happy that you can’t execute me.
I can’t do much because I’m self-isolating, but I’m having a fun time with my dog and son, James. Maybe we can meet up at the end of lockdown and be friends again and you won’t execute me.
Love Mary, Queen of Scots
From: Tyne & Wear
Writing as: Anne Frank
Judges’ comments: “Great sense of atmosphere and a fantastic drawing”
My name is Anne Frank and I love writing.The Nazis have just broken into my house but we are hiding behind a bookshelf in a secret passage. The Nazis are ripping down walls and tearing up carpets. I hope they don’t find us! My diary keeps me occupied through these tough times, as I love writing about my day. Thank you for reading this. Love, Anne Frank
Writing as: Nelson Mandela
Judges’ comments: “Moving and very inspiring”
Historians may call this lockdown. But there can be no lockdown where there is freedom. I’ve been in isolation inside this jail for almost 27 years. No bed. No family. No despair. Just pen, paper, peace, hope and a vision. There are ignorant minds surrounding me, chained by their own prejudice. It is only within their minds that this pitiful lockdown exists.
Writing as: Charles Darwin
Judges’ comments: “We loved Darwin’s tortoise excitement!”
Thought I’d send you a card from HMS Beagle where I’m locked down because of the travel restrictions. We’re currently stuck off the coast of the Galapagos Islands and I really want to get off this boat onto the island because I can see these MASSIVE tortoises from my cabin window. They’re HUGE! I’ve collected lots of beetle specimens – I love beetles! I’m spending time writing my journal (The Voyage of the Beagle) and trying to social distance from the crew. Stay safe.
Writing as: Spartacus
Judges’ comments: “Loved the menacing drawing”
I’m having a fantastic time in lockdown because I’m not having to fight for my life just to entertain a crowd. It’s horrible fighting animals and gladiators in the gigantic Colosseum! I’ll try to escape if I can.
From: East Yorkshire
Writing as: Katherine Johnson
Judges’ comments: “Great character choice and use of imagination”
This is a pandemic and all the people of the USA are affected. Life has changed as we have a lockdown across the country. These past months have been completely altered: our family, the food we eat and my job. There has been a serious decrease in the food. This discrimination has gone too far! We African-Americans have been living on hardly enough. I have three children to feed! The white stores have an incredible array of nutritious foods, however we have been on a minimal diet and I dread that malnutrition will occur. Another problem is NASA. I am on a low income as it is. I have had a cutback in work as we have been advised not to enter the offices. The mail has been delayed so any crucial work is always rushed to the deadline. Let’s hope and pray our situation will improve soon. Kind regards, Katherine Johnson
From: South Yorkshire
Writing as: Harald Hardrada
Judges’ comments: “Impressive knowledge of Viking games”
This is the Viking king here, writing to express my boredom. During lockdown, I have counted all of the gold and jewellery that I have stolen. During my spare time, I have been playing Hnefatafl, a logic game, against my wife, but she’s beating me 9-6. As my wife has told me to start going on runs, I’ve been running (every morning) around the village.
From, Harald Hardrada
Writing as: Henry VIII
Judges’ comments: “Excellent Tudor knowledge”
I am King, quarantine should not apply to me or my future wife. I am stuck at Rochester, waiting for Anne, and your infernal policy has her stuck in Deal. She’d better be worth this endless wait. You’ve promised me that she is as influential as Catherine was, that she is gentile, unlike the charming Anne, and as likely to give me a son as Jane. I have some faith in Holbein’s ability to portray her accurately as he did when he painted me. However, if I am not satisfied, heads will roll. I order you to lift this accursed lockdown now, regardless of what physicians are advising, or I will strip you of your titles and change the law anyway. HR
Writing as: Thomas Becket
Judges’ comments: “Loved the drama and detail”
Oh thank goodness coronavirus is here and we are in lockdown. Hopefully now a knight won’t come and throw a sword and slice part of my skull off and my brains won’t spill all over the cathedral floor. As I am the Archbishop of Canterbury, I am now stuck in my cathedral all alone. To occupy myself, I check on all of the other bishops and see if they are ok.
Writing as: King Arthur
Judges’ comments: “Lovely drawing. Surely every garden needs an Excalibur!”
In lockdown, the Knights of the Round Table have been busy while I have been gardening with Excalibur. I have grown some carrots, potatoes, potatoes, broccoli and asparagus. I have also been cutting the hedge down with Excalibur. My sword has been very useful in lockdown.
From King Arthur
There were so many fantastic postcards submitted that it was incredibly hard to choose the final 10 winners. Although sadly they don’t qualify for a prize, check out some of our other favourite, ‘highly commended’ entries below…
Amelia Earhart – by Alice Hurd, 8, Essex
Hi, my name is Amelia Earhart. Right now I am in lockdown for the situation of coronavirus. I am missing my yellow plane, the Canary, so much because I am not allowed to fly it. So I have been staying in and making paper planes, also watching old videos of me on my plane. Bye for now.
Boudicca – by Elizabeth Ansdell, 12, Kent
I am going crazy! Those Romans think they can just walk in here and take everything I own! Well, by the god Lugas, St Albans, Colchester and London will feel my wrath. In my hours of boredom, I have sharpened my sword 67 times so I will be ready when we are released from lockdown. I will lead the Celts to victory, for that is the meaning of my name. Boudicca
Hiawatha – by Mia Virgo-Cox, 12, South Yorkshire
I am in the Cayuga (or Gayogohó:no) nation, with Jigonhsasee and the Great Peacemaker. We were travelling to the Seneca people to negotiate peace but the Norsemen gave some of us an illness that they carried on the longboats, so we are forced to quarantine. I hope the Haudenosaunee will remain strong during this difficult time. Maybe Tadodaho will see sense in peace in this period. Hiawatha
Henry VIII – by Jasper Knowles, 8, Tyne & Wear
Lockdown is boring. I’ve run out of sausages. I’ve played frisbee with my crown and now I’ve lost it in the garden. My wife is starting to get on my nerves. Love from King Henry VIII
Edward III – by Max Farish, Surrey
I am stuck inside wondering when I will finally resume my war with France (which has already begun). I know only a few years ago was the end of a three-year plague killing a third of England. Coronavirus is even worse. When this new illness is over I will destroy France and Scotland to make myself the greatest king in English history. Also, I’ll give Wales and Ireland a punch up too.
From Edward III (the best English king, (personally))
Billy the Kid – by Rory Barry, 12, Herefordshire
I am Billy the Kid. I am an outlaw cowboy. I am in lockdown in Arizona on the run from sheriffs. Yesterday I needed to get out. It’s so boring here and I don’t have anyone to bring me what I want. I illegally went down to raid a bar in the nearest town. Before I knew it, 5 sheriffs were chasing after me. It took me only 5 shots of my revolver to knock them off their horses into the dust of my galloping horse. Unfortunately, my hat went flying off into the distance. Luckily I got to the hideout safely and I regret going out.
Mary Shelley – by Ursula Newbould, Kent
I’m thinking of a book called Frankenstein. I can’t wait to publish it. The problem with lockdown is that I’m still waiting for my stationery to arrive. I’m wearing more black of course because I’m a goth. It’s sad that my friends can’t come. I want to freak out people! I miss midnight picnics. I’m making cakes, maybe with black food colouring. Sincerely, Mary Shelley
You can also view a selection of the other fantastic entries here
The October issue of BBC History Revealed is on sale from 3 September 2020