We’ve had a letter to a granddaughter, a letter to a son, and now we have a letter to a daughter-in-law. Harold Nicolson wrote this welcoming note to Philippa Tennyson-d’Eyncourt, his son Nigel’s then-fiancée, on April 1, 1953:
I am glad you are coming to Sissinghurst on Saturday, as it will give us time to get to know you and to break through the awful embarrassment inseparable from such introductions. You will find us shy, eccentric, untidy, but most benevolent. You will find Sissinghurst the strangest conglomeration of shapeless buildings that you ever saw, but it is an affectionate house and very mellow and English.
Viti says that she asked you to call her “Vita”, and you must call me “Harold”. That is far simpler. I always called my own beloved father-in-law “Lionel”, and it seemed quite natural after the first ten years or so.