building relationships by keeping in touch Hathi and Teddy
the original stories send a card Sir Henry's notebook


Sir Henry Thornhill

It was 1914 and I was a soldier and administrator in India. Although doing an important job for the British Raj, I was sad as my grandchildren were back in England. Communications were very slow in those days. It took 2 months for a letter to get to England by boat. Nevertheless,I did not want them to grow up without knowing me so I decided to send picture postcards to Teddy, my grandson. I had always enjoyed drawing (only as an amateur, sadly) but this was my way of showing him some of the many beautiful and interesting things I had experienced in my lifetime.

Sir HenryAs Teddy grew older, I wrote illustrated letters and in turn, cards and letters to his sisters, Margaret, Elizabeth and Anne. As well as filling them with pictures of animals, birds, insects and fishes, illustrations of the inventions and marvels of the time, they featured the adventures of my imaginary characters, Hathi (the elephant) and Mr Hare. They were joined in all sorts of adventures by their friends Muglhi Ji, Mrs Stork, Mr Frog and the Cockiobolli bird.

When I retired and returned to England I was so looking forward to at last being with my beloved grandchildren. But, by an unkind twist of fate the family were posted to India so I couldn't be near them. For the next 15 years I continued to write and draw letters to the four of them every week, it was, almost, my only way of forming a relationship with them. Many years later I was so touched when Teddy, then a grandfather himself, described me as 'the best friend he ever had'.

All my letters were kept by the four grandchildren and lay in the family attics for 60 years before being rediscovered. They amount to nearly 1200 items and my great grandson has been told they are the largest collection of illustrated correspondence in the world, and a unique record of a grandfather's love for his grandchildren.

I thought that you and your grandchildren might like to enjoy them so they are now being put on this web site. My great grandson Charles will be reading you one each week. Also you can now send my original cards to each other with a space for your very own message. This amazing new internet technology means that you can communicate across the world in seconds and I am so impressed that I have decided to start up where I left off 70 years ago and am writing a brand new letter in my notebook every week.

I do hope you will enjoy my letters and cards and that they may give you the opportunity to have fun with your grandchildren if, like me, you can't be with them as much as you would like.

Please let me know how you get on, my great great grandson Nick tells me you can use something called e-mail (whatever that may be).

Regards Sir Henry

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Sir Henry Thornhill
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