Every Friday we’re inviting our experts and guests to share a letter to something they love linked to the post.

Dear Harry,

I’d really like to know you better. Sure, there’s lots I already know: Henry George Daniels, lived at 23b Theatre Street, Battersea, London (an address I’ve looked up on Google Maps several times – so far, so stalker). I know in 1914 you married 27-year-old Olive Durst. You shared just a few short years of marriage before you were killed in action in France, in 1917. But I have more questions for you because I’ve read so many of your postcards and spent hours looking at the drawings you decorated them with.

I remember when I first found the stack of postcards you wrote, each illustrated with a beautiful picture. I hadn’t been working at The Postal Museum for long and you made me feel so lucky to have this job and the opportunity to share your story. Where did you learn to draw? Do you have a sketch pad somewhere, in an attic maybe? Half-forgotten and dusty but full of your life and imagination.

Is that you, on the postcard you sent to Olive in 1907? Did you lean your bike against the wall, light a pipe, write your message and sketch the view? I think it must be you, but tell me – am I right?

‘In a by-lane’ Postcard – hand drawn and coloured by sender, 1907 (2014-0038/14)

You wrote to Olive so frequently but didn’t marry until years later. Did your relationship change? Did the coming war make you both realise your love? And why did you always place your stamps at a certain angle? Were you using the ‘language of stamps’ code to send an extra message of love to Olive, or did you just like the way it looked? Am I reading too much into the little details you’ve left behind?

I’ve written about you before and I was convinced somebody would see your illustrations, smile and nod, ‘ah yes, that’s Harry’. I thought they would show me a photograph of your wedding day and fill in the gaps about your life. But so far, all that’s been left to my imagination.

We’re sadly lacking provenance on your collection. Did Olive keep the postcards for years after your death or were they painful reminders of her loss that she had to remove from the house?

“The Moon” Olive Postcard (front), 1908 (2014-0038/032)

“The Moon” Olive Postcard (back), 1908 (2014-0038/032)

Did you send postcards to lots of people? Where are they now? I don’t think you only live in the museum. I’m sure you are alive in someone’s memory, somewhere.

See you soon for a catch up, Harry.

Joanna Espin


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