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Victorian Etiquette - Styles of Letters

As mentioned earlier, we Victorians are renowned letter writers. Some of the types of letters are described below.

Letters of Introduction

These types of letters should be short and carefully worded. They should include the full name of the person being introduced, where he is from, and words expressing the mutual pleasure that you believe the acquaintance will provide. The person who writes this type of letter should be well acquainted with both parties. If the person receiving this type of letter is well-bred, they will contact the new person introduced within 24-hours.

Notes of Congratulations or Condolence

Notes of this type should e short and only sent by near and intimate friends and not include any other topic. They should express real feeling and not just be a matter of form.


Invitations for a general reception are printed and do not require an answer unless requested with an R.S.V.P. noted on the card. Also included are the hours of the reception. If an invitation to a ball, the word "Dancing" is printed on the corner as well as the hours usually ending at 11:00PM unless being held during the Season. A ball invitation is always given in the name of the lady of the house and require an answer as soon as possible. An invitation to a large party is similar to that of a ball but does not state that it is a ball on the card. Notes of acceptance or regret are the same as for a ball.

Invitations to a Public Amusement

This form of invitation requires an immediate acceptance or regrets. A previous engagement is commonly the reason for a rejection.

Invitations to Informal Events

Invitations to tea, for a game of cards, charades, private theatricals; sailing and garden parties may be less formal in nature. However, it is required that an immediate acceptance or regrets be given.

The Letter of Friendship

This type of letter is more dignified in tone and should include matters of interest on the part of the writer and the recipient. It should be answered shortly after receipt in order to keep the friendship in tact.

The Love Letter

This type of letter should be expressive of sincere esteem and affection, written in a dignified tone and in such a style as to not present any form of embarrassment to the recipient if someone else should happen to find and read it.

Business Letters

This type of letter should be brief and to the point relating to the business at hand; written in as few words as possible while remaining as clear as possible. It should not begin with an apology or explanation. The recipient of such a letter should reply as soon thereafter as possible after receiving the letter. These kinds of letters include requests for loans of money, requests of a favor or requests for employment.

More on letter writing is described in the sections that follow.

pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Dos and Don'ts pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Manner of Address pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Styles of Letters

pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Basic Rules pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Calling Cards pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) On Calling
pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) At Teas/Receptions pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) At the Theater pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) On Mourning
pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) The Dinner Party pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Shopping pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) Breaches of Etiquette
pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) On the Street pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) In Church pearlbut.gif (1194 bytes) On Traveling

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