In the summer term of 1929, Cynthia Ewing, who had just turned 14, was sent to boarding school in York. This is when her letters home to her parents in Newcastle began. Her mother saved only the letters from her first term, but she stayed at this school for the next few years, as she met new friends, had new experiences, in fact, grew up. I remember her complaining that changing schools affected her knowledge of English history, as she repeated lessons on the Tudors several times, but never did deal with the eighteenth century. Her handwriting also changed over the years at boarding school, from the script you see in these letters to what she used as an adult.
To share the letters, I will post the images of the pages, faded ink and all, but will also transcribe them because I am none too confident in my photographic abilities and the clarification might be helpful.
c/o Mrs Palmer
27th April 1929
Thank you very much for your letter, I was very glad to get it yesterday evening, I get on quite well and all the girls are very kind and nice to me. This morning I went to town with two other girls I got a black bow and then we went and looked round Woolworths, we did not get any lunch as we were not hungry. I think I shall send back all of the photos, daddy dear, as I should not like to loose any of them as they are so nice. I started this letter yesterday evening only I haven’t finished it yet. I played tennis yesterday afternoon and had a lovely time, I think that if I go on playing as much as I did yesterday I may get quite good. At school I get on quite well, at geometry on Friday I could do the things better than the other girls. There are only eight girls at the boarding house now, Jessie Muir and Phyllis who are in the fourth form with me, Gertrude, Eleanor and Mary and Marsha and a girl Sylvia who lives in Benwell and hasn’t come yet. I had a little weep in bed this morning Daddy, I felt so lonely but I am trying to be good and read my Bible every night and say my prayers. I had a bath last night, it is the second one I’ve had, I like having baths. We are going to church this morning and it is horrible and wet, I am not putting on my panama hat or best shoes but school shoes and my black hat without the school band. There is a new matron come this term called Miss John, she is very nice and quite young, she is a glorious tennis player for she played with us yesterday. I shall write again on Wed: please give my love to Dickie and Dot and Nancy and I still love you with heaps and heaps of love and I’m longing for the holidays to come so that I can see you and Mummy again, please write again soon to your loving little girl Cynthia.
You know all my news so all I have to send you is my best love and kisses and darling, please don’t forget to buy a birthday present for Nancy on 14th and Marjorie on 29th May so I am ever your loving little girlie who is trying her best to please you and Daddy with heaps of love your own Cynthia.
It reads like a different era, doesn’t it? Her childhood friend Nancy Allen was presumably the one with the birthday, and Jessie Muir became a lifelong friend as well.