How the Newsletter Evolved From Esther Gilbert

Photo: Sir Martin’s books, 1 to 88, in various editions

I was quite overwhelmed by the responses from my last piece (in the June newsletter), not only from those who have followed me through the many ups and downs (or downs and downs) of the last few years, but also from new readers who have helped to fill the mailbag. So I’d like to follow up on how the newsletter evolved, with a bit on how it is produced and hopefully answer some questions that arose.

Every month the newsletter gives me an opportunity to put everything else aside and concentrate on what Martin wrote. In a world where people’s views have become so polarised, it is a time to reflect on the “challenging” times of the Twentieth Century and how we have arrived where we are. And who better than with the balanced and clear voice of Sir Martin as our guide! I am continually amazed at how he “covered the field” both geographically and historically. Much as I miss him sitting next to me to watch the evening news and discuss it afterward, I do feel the presence of his historical insight. The problem is which particular issue to ask him!

Once I decide which book and which atlas to focus on in the newsletter, I try to find something that I hope will pique your curiosity, and in a short piece try to give you the “taste” of his writing, either in an excerpt from the book or from another piece he has written. Although it is not the same as sitting across the dinner table from him, between his publishers and his loyal following of readers, most of his books are in print and available. Hopefully they inspire conversations at a dinner table near you!

In 2013, with the help of the very capable Estelle Botsman, the two of us embarked on a programme to update Martin’s old website, with the generous and professional help of Andy Brandon of Stepto & Son website designers. I wanted the website to be the “go to” for any information on Sir Martin Gilbert, a sort of web biography, in his own words. Estelle taught herself the website programme and uploaded whatever text I gave her – descriptions of each book, excerpts, reviews, and information on his education, travels, views, as much as possible in the way Martin described it. The publishers of his ebook editions kindly supplied pdfs of his indexes so we were able to add that to the book webpages (more on that below).

Then Martin died and the flood of obituaries was both widespread and powerful; they were excerpted and added to the website, as was the video and the text of the speeches from the memorial. Within a few months of his death we were able to launch the website and the changeover from my direct emails to this newsletter format. Now I send Estelle the text and she tears herself away from her beach in Spain where she now resides to format the newsletters and send them to you.

I came to Martin through his writing and yes this newsletter is a labour of love. It is also a desire to share his work and hopefully provide some insight and understanding into some of the background of the “challenges” facing our world today.

Please forward this to your family and friends, to your colleagues and acquaintances, to those who agree with you and those who don’t, yet; in short to anyone who could benefit from Sir Martin’s writings.

From Esther Gilbert

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