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Do not get her out of bed for a signature
Hilary Mantel's rules for writing love letters
Welcome to the 28th issue of the Lists of Note newsletter: a new (old) list each Sunday. You can support this project by becoming a paid subscriber, or by donating, or by purchasing a copy of the Lists of Note book. Thanks.
Born in Glossop, England, Dame Hilary Mantel was the author of, most notably, Wolf Hall: a multi-Booker Prize-winning trilogy of historical novels charting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII. Sadly, Mantel died on Thursday. She was 70 years old.
A decade ago, as Valentine’s Day approached, Mantel wrote a list of rules to be followed when writing love letters.
1. No photocopies.
2. It is considered bad form to enclose folding money. Money-off coupons are all right.
3. No verse. Your own would be embarrassing. You could quote, but do you trust your taste? Most poetry is covert metrical bullying with a clear end in view. You might as well send condoms.
4. Trust the postman. Do not get her out of bed for a signature. A courier service looks a bit needy. Any accompanying gifts should be valuable but compact: that is, nothing that will need help to carry to the pawnshop.
5. Don’t draw hearts at the bottom. Henry VIII used to do that, and look how his affairs ended up.