Letters from Mildred to Cyril


This small collection of five letters were written by Mildred to Cyril. The first, written in 1906 when Mildred was 15 and Cyril 9, is also illustrated and reveals a child/big sister relationship in which eccentric humour and poking fun was a natural part of their relationship. The other four letters, written in 1911 when Mildred was 20 and Cyril was 14, show just how their relationship has matured and how they are happy to communicate quite openly and honestly but with Mildred continuing to take her responsibilities as a big sister seriously.

The background to the letters is a mystery; the cow references and Mildred’s identification as such, the people; Glady Fellowes, Palmer, Marion & Will. I am fairly certain that Nellie is their Mum, Ellen Hooke, and B.S stands for Boy Scout.

2023 10 28 13.38.01Comp2
1906   Mildred is 15 or 16, Cyril is 9/10

Dear Chum,

Did a poor cow look over a hedge? I expect you frightened it. Next time you see it tell it I am sorry my brother gave it such a fright. If you have time and are not coming home soon I should not mind having a letter. Please let me know whether the cow has recovered.

I think Gladys Fellows is quite well. I have not seen her lately. Isn’t she sweet?

I guess Palmer treats someone else now. You poor boy! You can’t get any ½ ices of potato chips. Shall I send you some by post?

Marion & Will sent Nellie a Yarmouth bloater. Nellie put it in the larder for Dadda’s supper. Trixie went to the larder for milk. Trixie left the door open. Pussy went in and took the fish. Pussy took the fish in the garden. Pussy didn’t eat that fish. She hid it in a corner. Pussy meant to have a supper party. While Pussy went off to invite her friends Trixie found that bloater.

Moral - Never leave larder doors open when you go to get milk and never tell your pussy cat there’s fish in that larder.

2023 10 28 13.38.26Comp2Dear darling sweet gentle brother GOOD NIGHT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Animale Cubuliscum Rosam Gnobolum Arabiscum Translate and send me it to correct.

Thy soeur Mildred


5th March 1911

Mildred is 20 and studying at Cambridge. Cyril is 14 and attending St Paul’s School, London

Sidgwick Hall, Newham College, Cambridge.

5th March 1911

My dear Boy,

This is just a little note to thank you for your very nice letter of last week. I do so love to know about your thoughts and doings.

I am looking forward to seeing you very soon, and am hoping that your confirmation will be when I am at home. It will be very lovely if you are able to come with us to Easter Communion.

I hope that all is going well with work & games.

With best love, Mildred


16th July 1911

Mildred is 21 and studying at Cambridge. Cyril is 14 and attending St Paul’s School, London



2023 10 28 13.39.04Comp2Dear Chum

I found such a fine verse, that I had copied out, among my papers and I thought that you might like it. Here it is

“To set the cause above renown,

To love the game beyond the prize,

To honour, while you strike him down,

The foe that comes with fearless eyes;

To count the life of battle good,

And dear the land that gave you birth

And dearer yet the brotherhood

That binds the brave of all the earth.”

Your loving sister



29th October 1911

Mildred is 21 and studying at Cambridge. Cyril is 14 and attending St Paul’s School, London

2023 10 28 13.39.51Comp2
Sidgwick Hall, Newham College, Cambridge.


C.G.Hooke B.S

My dear Chum

I was so sorry that you were feeling depressed and unwell last week but I trust that to-morrow’s letter will be a radiant one. Shall I tease you and say “At what time have you been going to bed?”

I shall long to see you in your B.S outfit, and feel quite cross to think I shall see it so late. I am quite certain that a B.S must not be pessimistic. They have to cheer up everyone else.

I think I am feeling very optimistic on the whole and shall feel more so when I see you all again. I congratulate you very much on the Trig. It was jolly. This is only a mad little note to say “Cheer up  old chap”  written upside down: (and go to bed early!!!!!!)

2023 10 28 13.40.02Comp2Your always very loving sister


Are we downhearted?


27th November 1911

Mildred is 21 and studying at Cambridge.

Cyril will be 15 on 28th November, on receiving this letter and attending St Paul’s School, London

Sidgwick Hall, Newham College, Cambridge.


C.G.Hooke B.S

My dear Boy

2023 10 28 13.40.17Comp2I wish you very many happy returns of the day.

I thought that you might find this book useful for Christmas and please accept it with my love.

Thank you very much for your letter, and please thank the others for theirs. I hope that you will have a very jolly birthday.

Love and all good wishes

from the “Good Old Cow”