Complete Letter Writer

Published by Ward Lock & Co the book is not dated but is likely from the early twentieth century.

This gorgeous little book (Crown 8vo, Cloth, 1 shilling) belonged to my grandfather (1891-1954).

It purports to provide “practical information in the subject of correspondence, and specimen letters that may be adapted to meet almost any case.”    The specimen letters are hilarious in their seriousness and cover an awful lot of ground.  A random sample (with original capitalisation intact) includes:

  • From a Schoolmistress complaining of one of her Pupils
  • From a Lady inviting an acquaintance to visit her at the Seaside
  • From a Father to his Son at School
  • Refusal to lend Money
  • Introducing the Captain of a Ship
  • A Joking Letter from Charles Lamb to Mr Patmore, to whom he had entrusted a dog

Honestly, who amongst us has not needed an example of a Joking Letter to a man to whom we have entrusted a dog?

So, in the first of an intermittent series, I include for your reading delectation one of the wonderful specimen letters contained in my little book.  Each one could easily form the basis of a terrific novel.

I hope you may find it instructive….


No. 160 – To a Young Lady on her Engagement (Disapproving)

The Knoll, Rosamore

(Date in full_________________)

My Dearest Agnes,

I hardly know how to begin my letter.  Your news is so unexpected, and by no means altogether pleasant, I am sorry to say.  Forgive me, dear, but I really cannot approve of your selection of Mr. ______ as a husband.  No doubt he is an attractive man, and a great favourite; but these universal favourites seldom make the best husbands.  They have been made so much of before marriage, that they are apt to think themselves neglected after marriage unless their wives are very attentive to all their little humours.  You will think me unkind in thus throwing cold water upon your prospects.  I do not mean to be unkind, I assure you, but I cannot congratulate you so warmly as I would have done had you chosen a different type of man.  I understand that Mr. ______ has no profession; that in itself is a mistake.  No man, unless born to wealth and responsiblity, can afford to be idle; and a lazy husband is in the way at times, unless he possesses a common sense so sound as to be uncommon.

However, I trust that you will be happy, and enjoy your future together.  I wish well to you both, and shall have much pleasure in being introduced to Mr. ______ when you can find time to bring him here.  Though he is not the husband I would have selected for you, I have little doubt that your good sense will triumph in the end.  Write to me soon, and tell me your arrangements.  When the time comes, I dare say I shall find something for your wedding or your new home, but don’t be precipitate.

Your uncle unites with me in love and best wishes.

I remain your affectionate aunt,

Martha Dalkelly.