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Writing Through the Decades: "The Ladies' and Gentleman's Model Letter Writer" (20th Century)

Welcome back to the October installment of the Writing Through the Decades series. Today we're taking a look at "The Ladies' and Gentleman's Model Letter Writer: A Complete Guide to Correspondence on all Subjects with Household and Commercial Forms". Read on a for a closer look at how a lady in the early 20th Century might have received or declined an Engagement, how a fellow would have asked a friend to be a Best Man, and finally, how to address members of the Royal Family should there be an occasion to write such a letter.

This beautiful volume is soft to the touch with age...and worse for the way for it, unfortunately. With much of the binding agent dried up many of the pages are either loose, or hard to turn for fear of splitting the groupings. It was a real experiment in patience to get a flip through of this beauty for the Blog but we're so glad we did!

Frederick Warne & Co. Again?:

Published by Frederick Warne & Co, this is at least the fourth in the Writing Through the Decades series by the Publishing house. At this stage we might as well rename the Writing Through the Decades series the "Frederick Warne & Co. Writing Through the Decades Series"!

There's the April "Gentleman's Letter Writer", the June "Correct Guide to Letter Writing" , and the August "Ladies Letter Writer" . If you'd like a deeper dive into the history of the publishing house, we took a look at that legacy in March while researching the "1954 Ladies Letter Writer". Fundamental things to know before we proceed: Frederick Warne & Co. were founded in 19th Century England and published primarily Children's Books from one author you might know especially well: Beatrix Potter!

Being in marketing for my 'day-job' these guides are such a treat for a peak at the publishing industry in the 20th Century. Often times the front and back covers are studded with other necessary volumes for the Lady or Gentleman. Here we see an assortment of Children's Music Books for purchase.It's especially interesting to note the publishers experience in Children's books and the advertising of volumes like "The Children's Musical Companion" or "Songs for Our Little Friends".

I get a real kick out of the latter half of the page though, where Model Manuals for things like Etiquette, Modern Out-Door Amusements, and Humor Anecdotes are on offer. I'll take one of each, please!

Ladies Model Letter-Writer:

As noted previously there were several volumes from Warne & Co. for both sexes or individual audiences like the Lady or Gentleman. Because this volume has no date it can be hard to place with pinpoint accuracy when it falls on the timeline. However, in this first half of the guide helpful titled "The Ladies' Model Letter-Writer" we can see why this book might have been a welcome addition to the ladies desk.

I'm particularly fond of the Romantic or Romantic Entanglements and Engagements advice section of these guides. Who can blame me when they offer up juicy bits like this:

I adore the formality but also the tenderness of slipping into the nickname of "Charlie". Remembering that for most of history marriages were not love matches but instead business and insurance policies, it's nice to see how the game was quite literally played by the lady and her pen.

Gentleman's Model Letter-Writer:

Proceeding with the theme of Weddings here we have a hilarious look at a Best Man invitation, for the Gentleman:

The "mournful occasion" is a nice dose of humor to cut the sentimentality of "the man and woman I love best will unite in confirming my happiness", still a wish of many Grooms-to-Be even in 2021!

To Her Majesty:

I've waffled on enough above so to say thanks for your readership I'll leave you here with "Directions for Addressing Persons of Rank, &c."

For future reference, I would appreciate "May it please your Majesty" but I will accept "Your Grace" from close friends.

Get in Touch.

Thanks for reading! Have you been enjoying these flip through history blogs? Let us know! Have a guide you'd like to see featured? Or a letter story you're eager to share? Send us an email at

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