“Your ever attached …”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (source: Baylor Digital Collections)

Below follows Marlies Reitsma’s second blogpost:

I remembered seeing an unusual subscription in a letter written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning a while ago. I searched for the subscription again in the digital collection of the Browing Letters and found it: Your ever attached – Ba, which she writes in a letter addressed to Anna Brownell on 10-14 May 1859. She varies the subscription as well, as a letter to Hugh Stuart Boyd from May 1830 shows, in which  she writes: Your grateful & attached friend EB Barrett. She used this subscription and its variants in 102 of her letters, which is quite often.

I had never seen this subscription before, which made me wonder if it was a common formula to use in the subscription of nineteenth-century letters. If it was, I imagine it will be mentioned in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), as the two common subscriptions, yours sincerely and yours affectionately, are, about which the OED says: “Used in the subscription of letters” and “Also used in the subscription to correspondence”, respectively (OED, s.v. “sincerely” and “affectionately”).

The lemma attached did not give any results in the OED with regard to the subscription of letters. Therefore, I do not believe this was a very common formula to use in the subscription to correspondence, even though Elizabeth used it more than a hundred letters. It seems likely that this is a subscription which is characteristic to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  I’d be interested to hear from readers of this blog whether this is indeed the case.

Reference:

Bijkerk, Annemieke (2004), “Yours sincerely and yours affectionately. On the origin and development of two positive politeness markers”, in: Journal of Historical Pragmatics 5(2), 297-311

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