Book Chats on Ephemera.
"My Darling Daddy"
"Everyone allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female".
Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey. 1817. Last updated here in August 2020.
Most of us, at sometime or other, will have found something tucked away inside a book, and often being used as a forgotten bookmark. A four leaved clover perhaps, an old railway or bus ticket, sometimes even a banknote in old money. So, it was with some surprise that a small envelope recently fell out of a nondescript Victorian volume of Dickens. It was postmarked July 27th 1898, posted from Wimborne, nearby to our Lyme Regis in Dorset and addressed to a:
M. Boyle Esq. Hazeldene. The Heads. Keswick.
It bore the “882” Wimborne cancellation. This over a "Die 11" lilac 1p Queen Victoria stamp with sixteen dots in each corner (those intrigued by such philatelic detail could click through to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alwyn_ladell/7129535765).
On the rear, a Keswick cancellation dated July 29th 1898, and timed at 2.15 pm.
And inside...? The most charming of juvenile letters, carefully laid out between lines ruled in pencil. Her new pencil clearly a prized possession..........
July 27 1898
My Darling Daddy
I am writing this with my new pencil.
We all went to Badbury Rings Yesterday.
We were solders and Ame was drilling Master.
Lots of Love and Kisses to you and everyone
from your loving little daughter
Jane Austen took her holidays in Lyme, embodied in her novel “Persuasion”, and would have been proud of our little Marion Boyle. Anne Frank too, in her diary age thirteen, muses: “Who else but me is ever going to read this letter”. Well...in this case, as with her, quite a lot of people, and I hope that some of you will share with me, the pleasure of discovering this moment of quiet innocence.
Let's see what the 1901 and 1911 Census has to say.
More on that in a later update.
Note added 27th Sept. The 1901 Census indeed lists a Marion Boyle, then residing in Myton, Yorkshire. There are three siblings, and one is named Amee, her playmate Ame in the letter! Here, without any doubt, is our young Marion! A further search yields her Birth Record in York in the fourth quarter of 1894. So, our young letter writer was probably holiday making in Wimborne.
And her age? Marion Boyle was just four years old..!
[Update. A second note from Marion has just been found, this one dated 1901...! So, here she is again, now aged Seven. See below. Note the last line.."I will be good"..!]