A charity shop worker from Edinburgh was left stunned after discovering a 19th-century love letter in a vintage book.
Lena Kelly, 69, told STV News she owned the 1864 set of In The Silver Age by Holme Lee for around four to five years, before making the discovery last week.
“I bought them at a car boot sale, and rediscovered them recently as I thought they’d make a good item to sell at our shop,” the manager of Live Care Give on Portobello High Street said.
“I’d just completely forgotten about them, and I was rifling through when I noticed the letter in one of the books.
“It was this beautiful, four-page love letter to a woman written around 157 years ago – I couldn’t believe my eyes!”
‘Wheree’r thou art, my heart shall truly love thee’Letter, dated 1866
Ms Kelly shared images of the long letter, written in cursive, with STV News.
While some portions are difficult to make out, one of the clearest sections near the end appears to say the books were a birthday gift, from a man to the woman he loved.
It reads: “May the lord bless you, dear, sweet love of mine.
“This is a birthday present, though these words are written before the day. And that you might never know another unhappy day.
“Love me, trust me, wait for me – in silence if you think it [fit]. But love, trust, wait, wheresoever I am.”
After a slightly unreadable line, the author adds: “Wheree’r thou art, my heart shall truly love thee.”
It is signed off by the writer as written in Hastings, in 1866 – making it 157 years old.
Ms Kelly said she believes the letter tells a tale of unrequited love, saying: “It’s like he’s trying to woo her, but it’s not going to happen.”
The books themselves, published in 1864, are a collection of essays by Victorian-era writer Harriet Parr – under her pseudonym, Holme Lee.
They feature the original maroon-brown leather cover, embossed with gold on the spine and front.
“I think I just found them at a car boot sale and thought they were beautiful,” Ms Kelly said.
“My first thought when I found the letter was, ‘my god, imagine that! This man sat there 157 years ago, writing this incredible love letter – and I’m sat here reading it in 2023’. It’s just mad.”
Ms Kelly’s next steps are to have the books appraised, and then sell them at her charity shop in a silent auction.
Live Care Give is an independent charity shop on Portobello High Street, working on behalf of Loanhead After School Club (LASC) childcare services.
All profits go towards helping LASC provide childcare via community nurseries and holiday, breakfast and after school clubs.
They also offer a thriving community-focused inclusive day care service for young adults with additional support needs.