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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

One mystery solved... and tennis

I’ll get to tennis in a moment. First, an update and an exciting discovery…

While digging around for information on my gran’s singing career (see A Musical Investigation) I came across this wonderful bundle of letters.

I’ve read them before, of course, but you know what it’s like - the more you know, the more information already uncovered makes sense - so I was thrilled to find correspondence from my great aunt, clearly replying to my mum’s request for her aunt’s memories of her childhood, and that of her sisters, one of whom was my "musical" gran.

Two particular letters excited me – one of which solved a mystery and another which posed a new one to investigate! So, once I’ve dissembled all the information, I’ll give you recap and share these intriguing revelations. Watch this space!

Back to tennis

Meanwhile… back to tennis.

I have a batch of photographs I always refer to as my “mystery pouch” collection. In the little leatherette pouch in question are over a hundred little snapshots, which I believe were sent to my great aunt, Hilda Griffiths from her cousin, Anna Helena “Nellie” Talbot. (Confusingly, some of the messages are signed “Di”, within quotation marks. Nellie's nickname, perhaps?)

What I find most fascinating in this bundle of photos are the enigmatic notes scribbled on the back, such as on the reverse of these two.

One reads, I think this is quite good of me, don’t you? Mabs and Gracie moved so I didn’t bother to print them. Well, that explains why their heads have been chopped off! Mabs is probably Nellie’s sister, Mabel.

On the back of the other photograph of the lone tennis player the note reads, ‘It’ trying to play tennis. Auntie snaped [sic] me while I was playing you can just about tell who it is.’ If only! Though, I think it must be Nellie, though why she refers to herself as ‘It’ I’ve no idea!

My tennis memories

I wonder whether the tennis themed photographs were taken in Wimbledon fortnight and in which year? The date of this blog post (9th July) is the anniversary of the very first championship of the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, founded in 1877.

92 years later (though not quite on the exact date), I wrote this in my junior school “news book", marking the occasion in 1969 of Ann Jones winning the women’s single final. Also that year, she won the mixed doubles.

She must have been very proud of her achievements and delighted to be presented with the winner’s trophy by Princess Anne. As I say in my piece: Princess Ann [sic] wears a large hat and a rather dashing coat while the other Ann wears a tennis dress and an extra large smile!

While it won’t be a British player fighting for the women’s Wimbledon title this year (though perhaps in 2022 - after Emma Raducanu and Katie Boulter showed their potential earlier in the tournament), I’m sure Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova will give us an entertaining match.

After that, of course, we’ll have to brace ourselves for Sunday’s European Football Championship final…. Gulp! C’mon England!


To find out about the Esme Quentin books, click on the image below!


Carolyn Retallick
Carolyn Retallick
Jul 10, 2021

I remember when Ann Jones won Wimbledon! I left school that year and got my first job. It was so exciting (the tennis, not the job!) I remember also she was called Ann Haydon before her marriage. The British sporting achievements were so few and far between, I remember what years they were - 1934-36, 1966, 1969, 1977, 2013, 2016! Even though I live in Wales now, I was born in England and am wishing them all the best tomorrow.

Wendy Percival
Wendy Percival
Jul 10, 2021
Replying to

Glad to bring back some memories for you, Carolyn! Yes, tomorrow’s game is going to be tense, isn’t it? I think I might watch it hiding behind a cushion! 😂

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