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Letter Writing Through the Decades: "How to Write Love Letters" (1914)

In a continuation of the Letter Writing Through the Decades Series this month's entry comes from a 1914 edition of "How to Write Love Letters". I found this particular copy on Etsy, many moons ago. It was the first in my letter writing book collection that is now dangerously spiraling into a full shelf.

Supposedly authored by a Madame La Fontaine the guide promises "Many model Letters for the Guidance of Lovers under All Circumstances of Courtship, Proposal, Acceptance, Rejection, Jealousy, Quarrel, Making-up, etc., etc.". Leaves one to wonder what else might be included in "etc."! It certainly seems that this book could have come in handy for some of our World War I letter writers here at Flea Market Love Letters.

The sage and romantic l genius that was "Madame La Fontaine" -- in this author's humble opinion, a pseudonym for our accredited Editor Carleton E. Case -- opens this guide with an expected flowering flourish. Ironically, Fontaine writes that the "unstudied naturalness of the writer" is part of the charm in written correspondence.

The first pages of the introduction in this guide alone is a study in early advertising. Its usefulness is outlined, its discretion promised, and its purpose determined. One need merely flip through to find such stirring examples of letters as "From a young Lady in Answer to a Proposal for a Private Meeting" -- where the author declares with abject horror their"female propriety" as forbidding the aforementioned Private Meeting.

Perhaps most interesting to me as I read this particular entrance in the Letter Writing Through the Decades series was this entry entitled "Proposal to a Lady who Advocated the Equal Rights of Women" addressed to a "Miss Stanton". Perhaps, a Miss Elizabeth Caddy Stanton? Mentioned in the sample are "earnest and deep love" and linking destinies. I can't help but think that this entry could be well used even today when writing our beloved Equal Rights representatives.

All in all, for a book which was likely sold under the guise of a tool to capturing a spouse in the early 20th Century this Letter Writing Through the Decade entry was a favorite to research and write about. There's something deliciously subversive about a Love Letter Guide including a note to suffragettes -- before mind you Women had the right to vote in the U.S., when the guide was published in Chicago, IL -- that makes me pleased as punch to count this record among my collection.

I bet you didn't expect a love letter post in February to end up being about Equal Rights, did you? Got you there!

Fond of Letters?

You're in the right place then! Check out the Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society for all things letter appreciation. I am proudly a card-carrying member of the society since November 2020. Interested in letter writing in 2021 and want to deploy some of Humphrey's advice? Join "Penpalooza" a large international collective of letter writers. Already letter writing and want a cool coffee mug? Check out our Write More Letters Project merchandise -- 100% of the proceeds go to charity.

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