Letters in the Victorian Era
By Kaitlin O’Riley, Author of The Heiress He’s Been Waiting For
In our current, fast-paced world of emailing and texting and with the immediacy of all news and information, the very idea of a handwritten letter seems a bit antiquated, quaint and definitely rather slow today.
It’s incredible to think of it now, but Victorian London was a rather fast-paced city for its time. The advent of the Penny Post in 1840, just at the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, made letter writing available to the masses, because it fell to the sender to pay for the postage, not the receiver, which had previously been the case. Mailing a letter became more standardized and affordable. The use of fountain pens in the 1850’s and the invention of the envelope as we know it (which became more commonly used in the 1860’s) also contributed to the ease of letter writing. And no surprise, people wanted their messages delivered quickly and by the late Victorian era the mail in London could be delivered up to twelve times a day! Yes, it was so important to send and receive news that in parts of London uniformed letter carriers could deliver mail across town within an hour or so. Letter writing was really the only communication method society had to stay in touch with each other, since telephones, although in use in the late 1870’s, weren’t installed in homes until the next century.
So correspondence was a crucial form of communication. Letters were written to inform relatives of life events and express congratulations at happy news and to convey condolences at a death. Letters were sent as invitations to events large and small and a written response with acceptance or regrets was expected. There were business letters and letters of introduction, and of course… love letters. Letter writing was a necessity in the Victorian era which required guidelines in the proper etiquette of writing them, but there was still an elegance to their letters. Victorians used lovely textured paper and took pride in their penmanship. They sat at writing desks and even had portable and beautiful wooden writing boxes to take with them when they traveled.
Today letter writing is truly a lost art. Handwritten letters were a recorded history of the lives of the people who wrote them. Yes, texting and emailing is very convenient and quick, but will anyone open a pretty box in their grandmother’s attic a hundred years from now and find a treasure trove of old faded text messages or emails tied with a ribbon?
In Victorian London, the Hamilton sisters are known for their bookshops—and for finding their happily ever afters on their own terms. Now, much to their chagrin, their offspring are following in their unconventional footsteps—in life and in love . . .
Raised in New York, shipping heiress Sara Fleming was ready to elope—until her disapproving parents tricked her onto a boat heading to England. Her only consolation is getting to see her beloved aunts and cousins. Even the start of London’s Season—and a strikingly handsome earl—can’t make her forget the man she left behind.
Considered one of London’s most eligible bachelors, Christopher Townsend, the Earl of Bridgeton, is not what he seems. Having inherited his father’s crushing debt, he must choose a wealthy bride to save his family’s estate. Though rumored to be penniless and committed to another, Sara takes his breath away—and makes him question what he truly needs to be free of the past. But he’ll have to win the headstrong beauty’s heart one kiss at a time.
About the Author
Author of the Hamilton Sisters series, Kaitlin O’Riley fell in love with reading historical romance novels when she was just fourteen years old while growing up as one of five sisters in New Jersey. Now the acclaimed author of over eight historical romance novels, which have been translated into various languages all over the world, Kaitlin lives in Southern California with her family, where she is busy writing her next book. Learn more about Kaitlin at www.KaitlinORiley.com or on the social media platforms below.