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Synopsis

A window into love, marriage, family, and war at the start of the twentieth century, this book presents original letters from a British Army sergeant to his young wife. Some, written in Bermuda in 1899, cover the couple’s courtship, engagement, marriage, and migration to England. Others are from South Africa, where James Hill served from 1900 to 1902 in the South African War. He seeks to reassure his wife, Carrie, of his safety and expresses his concerns for her. Carrie, newly arrived in Britain, stayed with her paternal grandparents near Chatham, where her first child was born in 1900. She treasured the letters for the rest of her life. Carrie’s own voice is silent. Her feelings, preoccupations, tasks, and entertainments are mediated by Jim as he responds to the contents of her letters in his replies. The silence of her destroyed letters compounds her lifelong verbal silence about her early life in Bermuda. The letters and background commentary will explore family relationships and the impact of migration across continents at a time when gendered roles were assumed to be fixed but in reality had to be negotiated.

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