In addition to the letters written by George Hooke to his daughter Trixie in 1913 we have a small selection of letters written to his son Cyril. They were written in 1916 & 1918 during the war and in 1919 in the immediate aftermath, to Cyril, serving with the B.E.F. in France & Belgium. After Cyril returned to London in 1919 it wasn't long before he joined the British Army in India and didn't return home until 1924, by which time he had got engaged to Elaine Oakden in 1923, prior to their marriage, back in India, in 1926. Other letters were written to Cyril in India between 1919 and 1925.
Cyril kept his father's letters, but at some point he went through them and destroyed most. What remains, presumably, are ones which he selected and kept for reasons which we can speculate on. Presumably, they triggered special memories for Cyril or were particularly poignant or significant to him. There are letters from 1920, 1921 when George retired and had a great holiday in Switzerland, 1922 when he had another family holiday in Switzerland, and then in 1925 after Cyril had returned to India for a further tour of duty there prior to his wedding.
You can read the transcripts of these letters here.
There is something special about reading a hand-written letter so I have selected some extracts which I found particularly interesting or moving and photographed them for you to read below. Fortunately, George's handwriting is often quite neat and easy to read!
In this first extract, written to Cyril as he participated in the final push of WW1, George appreciates his son's positivity and cheerful attitude, something I too remember well of him when I knew him as an old man, my grandfather.
George jokes about the clergy and pompous politicians!
The family celebrate Cyril's Military Cross award in January 1919.
George delights in the way that all his children make the most of both work and play.
George becomes interested in cameras and photography.
As Registrar for Shipping and Seamen George would have had a particular interest in the topic he writes about below - the introduction of time zones around the world - something we take for granted today!
George reflects quite openly about the future and the pleasure he has found in all of his children.
George comments on both Cyril's grandfathers who had the same birthday... and how one of them managed his life after both his hands were blown off!
A very sweet comment from George about his beloved wife, Ellen.
George speaks up for his four daughters after Cyril, still a young and single man, had perhaps written somewhat disparagingly about women! There was no question about his respect for his sisters but perhaps he overstepped the mark in more general terms in a recent letter. George's comments, and what we can deduce of Cyril's, are probably very much "of their time". However, my own impression of the Hooke family in the early 20C, is that they were quite progressive and actually ahead of their time, in particular in encouraging their womenfolk towards the very best in academic achievement at a time when young women were discriminated against in the awarding of degrees. All four daughters built successful careers based around their particular strengths, remaining unmarried until Trixie and then Mildred married much later in life.
George reflects on Cyril as an infant, and marriage...!
George writes from holiday in Switzerland, immediately following his retirement in August 1921.
The letter continues as George tells Cyril about the silver tray he was presented with on retirement. (Pictures of this with the transcript)
George reflects on whether retirement is something to be congratulated for and on the length of his career with the Civil Service since he was just 14 years old.
George writes about cars and marriage - and his hopes, sadly for him unfulfilled, that he might see some of his daughters married. It must also have been a sadness to him that he was unable to attend his son, Cyril's wedding in 1926, out in India.
More about cars...
In the next two pages of a letter written in 1922, George writes very openly about his finances; his salary progression since 1907 and his position in retirement.
George reflects on his own mother as the "kindest, sweetest lady I ever knew". See her photo below.
George regrets an occasion when he was hard on Cyril as a little boy, confesses to his sense of guilt and apologises.
The very last letter to Cyril, written by George in scrawly writing just a month before his death in 1934. Trixie adds her comments on the reverse about how the family are trying to make his final days as comfortable as possible.
Those are just a few extracts! Do take the opportunity to read the transcripts which I have illustrated with contemporary photographs. You can also read George's letters to Trixie in 1913 and finally his letters to Cyril in 1928 as his beloved Ellen suffered terminal illness and passed away.