This is definitely, as they used to say, Best of the Web:
Bess of Hardwick (c.1521/2-1608) is one of Elizabethan England’s most famous figures. She is renowned for her reputation as a dynast and indomitable matriarch and perhaps best known as the builder of great stately homes like the magnificent Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House. The story of her life told to date typically emphasises her modest birth, her rise through the ranks of society, her four husbands, each of greater wealth than the last, and her ambitious aggrandisement of her family.
Bess’s letters bring to life her extraordinary story and allow us to eavesdrop on her world. The letters allow us to reposition Bess as a complex woman of her times, immersed in the literacy and textual practices of everyday life as she weaves a web of correspondence that stretches from servants, friends and family, to queens and officers of state.
What really makes it LH material is the Background section, which includes The Material Features of Early Modern Letters: A Reader’s Guide (“What did it mean to be handed a letter tied up with plum-coloured silk ribbon, or sealed with black wax? If a letter was written on a very large piece of paper, or was folded up very small, was your correspondent trying to tell you something?”), The Language of Early Modern Letters: A Reader’s Guide (“How do we read a letter that has no punctuation marks? How can we tell who is being sincere when so many early modern letters sound so fawning? How do we know if a servant has phrased a letter appropriately to a countess? How do we decipher early modern spelling?”), and Tutorial: Reading Early Modern Handwriting, inter alia. And a beautifully designed website to boot.