In 1828, British publisher Thomas Richardson provided the gentlemen of England a twenty-six page pamphlet full of Valentine’s Day samples to use in conducting affairs of the heart. As often seen with publications from the days of yore, the title is recorded from the whole front page and extraordinarily long— Richardson’s New London fashionable gentleman’s valentine writer, or, The lover’s own book for this year: Containing a very choice selection of original and popular valentines with appropriate answers
. . . or as the illustration page below better sums up, Richardson’s New Valentine Writer
Thanks to The Internet Archive, the entire pamphlet can be read. LINK HERE. Richardson later published a similar pamphlet for the ladies (alas, not archived) titled Cupid’s festival of love, containing all the most popular new and elegant valentines. As it happens, such “letter-writers” or advice books instructing readers in forms of correspondence proliferated in the UK and US during the 18th and 19th centuries. These types of books were not exclusive to Valentine’s Day, the form letters covering a wide range of topics such as calling in a physician, declining a social engagement, soliciting employment, or refusing a marriage proposal.
Historians suspect the Valentine declarations of love found in Richardson’s New Valentine Writer – and the other publications which followed – were probably meant as amusing social satire rather than a source of true help. How often the letters, or responses of compliance or rejection, were actually used in social situation remains unknown. Probably rarely, although quite a few are very poetic, such as the example page below.
Several pages contain Valentine love letters written in the voice of gentlemen with specific occupations. These texts, especially with the “answer” from the intended lady, are almost certainly meant to amuse.
Richardson ends his little booklet with a short, sweet, and hopeful Valentine that even to our modern ears would do quite well indeed. Might be just what YOU are looking for to dazzle your special someone on the Valentine’s Day.