Letter 1: November 2018

My chosen letter comes as a pair, written by two children (possibly a brother and sister). The envelopes are addressed to 'Mrs Gladstone' and the letters' authors both express their condolences and sympathy at the passing of William Gladstone - as they state:

’Daddy said we could write to you how sorry we all are.’

The little boy, Leonard, who reveals he is only six years old writes:

‘I am sorry you lost Mr Gladstone. I have put up my half-mastered flags.’

Not only does this indicate the little boy’s excellent manners, but it also highlights the respect people had for William Gladstone. He truly was ‘the people’s William’.

Nora, the little girl, states in her letter:

’I know a lot about Mr Gladstone what a good man he was when I am older, I shall read all about his life.’

This again really does illustrate the level of respect the younger generation had for Gladstone, which is quite remarkable especially if we think about today’s attitudes towards politicians…

It seems evident that these positive attitudes towards Gladstone, and his family’s well-being after his passing, illustrate the impact he had on the people. Gladstone’s leadership of the Liberal party shaped politics for the better. Not only did he secure a place in people’s hearts, but he was the force behind dramatic change in the educational system, foreign policy and free trade. His morals and values were cherished and respected as he always fought for what he believed in, even if that made him unpopular with constituents in his own party, like his bid to pass Home Rule for Ireland. For Gladstone the people’s happiness and well-being was his focus, and I feel like this letter demonstrates his success with this motto as it highlights the children’s, and their parents', gratitude towards Gladstone as a leader.

These two lovely letters are very heart-warming, and I hope they brought comfort to Mrs Gladstone in her time of need.

Kate Atkinson, Graduate Work Experience student