Born in Hull on 1 July 1903, Amy Johnson was the daughter of John William Johnson from the family firm of Andrew Johnson, Knudtzon and Company, fish merchants. She was also the granddaughter of successful mill-owner William Hodge who was Mayor of Hull in 1860.
When she was eighteen Amy began a relationship with a Swiss businessman, Hans Arregger, who was living in Hull at the time, and although she had hoped they would marry, the relationship broke down and Hans married another woman. Despite this, Hans kept Amy’s letters for the rest of his life.
On 16 October 1985 the letters came up for auction at Christie's and Hull Local Studies Library was able to purchase them for the City. The full collection of 286 letters (reference L DIAJ) chart Amy Johnson’s life during the six year period covering 1922-1928. In one, dated 29 April 1928, she states "now for the good news - I'm going to learn flying! I’m joining the London Aeroplane Club and then I can get tuition and always use their aeroplanes."
The majority of the letters are from Amy to her partner Hans Arregger, but the collection does also include letters to Amy from her father at Andrew Johnson Knudtzon Ltd. There are also letters to Amy from Vernon Wood of William Charles Crocker and Company, Solicitors, of London offering her a job with the typing staff at three pounds per week, saying that when she had acquired the relevant legal "atmosphere", she would be found a job which was "more congenial employment."
The letters were digitised and for some years were available to view via the History to Herstory website at Huddersfield University. Now the site is no longer in operation we have created 5 volumes of the letters, the first of which is available to read from 5 January 2021 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Amy’s tragic death. The remaining four volumes will become available at two-weekly intervals following 5 January 2021.
Part I: 5 March 1922-25 May 1925 (PDF, 83MB)
Part II: 27 May 1925-26 November 1926 - not yet available
Part III: 28 November 1926-7 June 1927- not yet available
Part IV: 1 June 1927-5 November 1927 - not yet available
Part V: 8 November 1927-July 1928 - not yet available
For more information about the books and records relating to Amy Johnson at the History Centre download our guide: Discovering Amy Johnson at the Hull History Centre (PDF, 0.9MB).