Friday, 1 July 2011

Elizabeth - a childhood in postcards

I don’t usually buy postcards because they are laborious to list and often sell for just a few pounds. So why did I focus in on this collection and why was I still bidding when they sold for more than four-times the auction estimate? Because the cards were all sent to the same little girl, they told a story, and it was a story I wanted to read.

I would guess ‘Elizabeth’ was around five years old when she received the first postcard in 1955. That would make her fourteen in 1964 when the last and most intriguing one arrived. Who is Elizabeth? I have no idea! If anyone out there recognises her or Tiggy or Elizabeth’s mother and father, please get in touch by leaving a comment at the end of the post. Elizabeth was living in Brighton when she received the postcards and according to Tiggy she looked like a little girl in a Mabel Lucie Attwell painting;

This message was on a card sent by ‘Tiggy’ in 1955;
Just waiting on my train at Victoria Station. This little girl reminds me of you.

This card also sent in 1955 made me wonder if a new baby brother or sister might be on the way;
I had my breakfast in bed to-day. There are lots of nice nurses and doctors here. Did you remember to give a big kiss to daddy for me? Better give him another one this afternoon. Mummy
In August 1956 granny sent this message;
Dear Miss Muffett I enjoyed our game on Sunday and we will have another one soon on a real beach I hope. Love to all. 

One sent by “Brenda” makes me smile; 
We have a pet mouse, I hope Martin is well. We are going to watch shooting stars.

This pretty Margaret Tarrant fairy card on the left sent in 1957 simply says;
Sorry you are not well pet. Make haste and loose that cold, granny.

And in July daddy asked;
How is my darling today? Mummy and I stayed the night at a little hotel beside the river and a nightingale sang us to sleep.

This 'Muffin the Mule' card was also sent in 1957;
Hello darling, here is a picture of Muffins picnic for you. Can you find Willie the worm? I have done joined up writing today. Mummy sends lots of kisses. Lots of love from daddy.
A little worm is drawn on the front of the card

Another card sent in July;
Hello darling, sorry to hear your hair is being difficult but hope it’s better to-day. We stayed in a house where there was a huge, big dog last night. I think it must be dear little Tessie Bear on this card. A big hug for you Love from Mummy and Daddy.

In August a card showing the changing of the guard in Whitehall asks;
Do you like these horses darling? Isn’t the white one beautiful? I wonder what Willie the worm is doing there! Can you find him? Love Daddy
A small drawing of a worm is hidden on the front

In September daddy must think ‘his darling’ is old enough to be addressed by name;
Dear Elizabeth hasn't this little girl a big pen?  I should think it is too big to write with. I wonder how Martin and Bow-wow are? Lots of love Daddy

December 1957 sees a flurry of cards sent to the Royal Alexandra hospital for children – this is the message on one of them;
Daddy, Tiggy and I were so happy to see you. Daddy and I will see you again soon. Much love from mummy.
Elizabeth seems to have spent about three weeks in the hospital. I was curious to know why and found the answer on a postcard addressed to ‘the tonsil ward’

In April Elizabeth received this message;
Hello darling There is an owl in a tree outside my bedroom and he hoots at night. I hope you have a nice time at school on Thursday. Daddy
'Daddy' has drawn the owl in the top left corner of this Rene Cloke postcard.

The final card in the collection sent in 1964 reads;

"I am waiting for you"

nothing else - no return address and no senders name.

Is it possible Elizabeth had a boyfriend? Maybe her first love? Or is this a message from a friend or relative? 

If my guess at Elizabeth’s age is correct she is in her 60s now. I wonder what happened to her. Did she get married? Have children? What do you think? Is there enough information to write Elizabeth's story? Would anyone like to try?

Update July 2016: As a bookseller, I often regretted parting with certain books. I didn’t expect to feel the same passion for postcards, but I soon did and I now bitterly regret parting with these cards. Since writing the post in 2011, I’ve become something of a family historian and have learnt how to search for family members. I’m not related to Elizabeth (as far as I know), but I could certainly find out more about her now. C'est la vie.


  1. These postcards are great! There definitely seems to be a story here. In fact, I'm now imagining a novel based on this. The main character comes across these postcards and tries to piece together the story behind them. She tries to track down the person by posting the postcards on the internet. In the end she could either meet the woman and return the postcards or perhaps the woman has passed away and the main character has now honored her memory through the postcards.

    Thanks so much for sharing these!

  2. Oh, these are so wonderful! I always think the pleasure in old post cards comes from what's written on them, rather than the picture on the front :)

  3. You always have the best graphics here, I love coming over and looking at them. These postcards have the same great flavor. Thanks for including them today.

  4. barbaraannefisher1 July 2011 at 20:40

    Hi Kelly
    I love your ideas. Maybe I could get to play the main character in the film of the book - would you like to be Elizabeth?

  5. barbaraannefisher1 July 2011 at 20:40

    I agree, the pictures on the front are great but the words on the back are better.
    Thank you for commenting.

  6. barbaraannefisher1 July 2011 at 20:42

    Thank you so much. appreciate your visits and comments.

  7. This is amazing! I wouldn't have been able to resist either. I love Margaret Tarrant.

  8. barbaraannefisher2 July 2011 at 16:46

    Thanks so much for your comment. Some of the Margaret Tarrant postcards are really beautiful.

  9. How charming! Thank you so much for sharing at The Book Frog's Reading Roundup today. It brought a sweet, sad tear to my eye.

  10. Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  11. I am 66 and I found the postcard of the Blue Fairy in England when I visited there in 1969 and have kept that image with me ever since. Now I have 3 granddaughters to send them to. I live in Texas.

    1. Hello Vera, thanks so much for leaving a comment. You and I are very close in age (although I’m a couple of years older) and I too have postcards from my youth – although sadly none from Texas! We have two grandsons aged 22 and 24 and two little granddaughters 3 and 5. The boys live in the UK, but the girls live in Australia. They came to England to stay with us for Christmas & New Year, and we are now saving in the hope we can go and see them in a couple of years. Barbara


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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