20 February 2014

William Pitt's 'fan girl'

It seems William Pitt the younger had his share of, shall we say, interesting fan mail. One of these letters, undated, came from a woman who in modern times we would call a 'fan girl.' The writer is unknown, and as it's found amongst the Dacres Adams MSS (which was partially derived from Pitt's papers taken from Walmer Castle shortly after his death), it is assumed that Pitt received this missive whilst he was staying there. It's impossible to tell. I've transcribed the letter in full, and it's definitely, ahem, worth a read:

 (Source: BL Add Ms 89036/1/17, f. 46)

“I have for years looked up to your character and abilities with respect and admiration, but I had never seen you till a few months since at the play - I need now scarcely say the delight I felt at being so near the man of all others I so highly esteemed. I am believe me perfectly aware of the impropriety of my conduct in writing you this letter, however its the only hope I have of ever being better acquainted with you. I think it's just possible I could get introduced to you, but surely any fancy of this kind is better kept to ourselves. 

I shall remain here till the 20th and then go to London. I am there my own mistress. If some happy woman does not engage the whole of your heart, its not improbable you may wish to see the strange creature who has written you this. Should you honour me with a line, I shall feel myself highly flattered. I dare not hope you will have a wish to meet a woman who can act thus. 

Will you direct for Mrs. [H.? St.?] James, Post Office, Margate? That name will do as well as any other.”

It appears the lady in question may have been using an alias, as the name seems to be referred to incidentally. Either way, she certainly appears to have taken a personal liking to Pitt after seeing him at a 'play'. It's impossible to tell whether Pitt ever replied, but he must have been amused - or bemused - by its contents!