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Yr Affectionate Reg: A Nineteenth-Century Publisher Writes Home from a Commercial Tour of England and Ireland

By Karen Hodder

In 1871 a young publisher set off from London on a journey around England and Ireland to promote the sales of the books produced by his elder brother’s firm, Hodder & Stoughton.

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 During his travels, he wrote home to amuse his family circle. His letters included chat about the places he saw, hotels his stayed in, their bills of fare ‘characters’ he met, including the miniature phenomenon General Tom Thumb & Co. He also adorned each of his letters with a comic sketch and enlivened them with jokes and shared repartee, accounts of musical treats, visits and notable sermons enjoyed during rate moments of leisure. In this way, these letters give a rare informal glimpse of Victorian social life through the eyes of an ordinary, gregarious, humorous and public-spirited young businessman. They foreshadow his later, very different career as an eminent provincial philanthropist in Derby.

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