Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Archive for September, 2007

Sad news

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

I just learned that one of my all-time favorite used bookstores, Ace Books and Antiques, is about to close. Unfortunately it’s about an hour and a half away and I don’t think I can get there before they go out of business. My mom and stepdad called me from Culpeper this morning after seeing a sign announcing the closing; they stopped by later and picked up a few things.

The one bit of good news is that they’ll continue to be selling online through AbeBooks.com, but I’m still sad the store is going by the wayside. It was the perfect combination of great titles, great organization, and just the right amount of dirt and grime associated with a fabulous used bookstore.

I’m sorry I didn’t visit more often, Ace. Thanks for the good books. 🙁

1881: Love Letters

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

This week I received a lovely gift from a coworker, Gene, who was looking to lighten his bookshelves at home. Knowing I had my little obsession with advice books (he came to my Valentine’s Day presentation at the Library of Congress), he so graciously gave me a book written in 1881 called National Encyclopedia of Business and Social Forms: The Laws of Etiquette &c.; &c.; by James D. McCabe.

Coincidentally, the book has a section on correspondence, which ties in nicely with the Post article I mentioned in my previous post.

For those of you thinking about texting a very brief note to the one you are wooing, let’s take a look back at how things were done back in the 1880s, waaaay before all this technology hit. I was going to quote something from the “Love Letters” section, but this one from “Letters of Excuse” struck me as a bit more entertaining, and more appropriate for the length of a blog post. The subject for this sample letter is “To a lady, apologizing for a broken engagement.”

Richmond, Ind., May 10th, 1881.

My Dear Miss Lee:

Permit me to explain my failure to keep my appointment with you this evening. I was on my way to your house, with the assurance of a pleasant evening, when I unfortunately stepped upon some slippery substance, lost my footing and fell to the ground, spraining my ankle severely. I am now confined to the house in consequence of this accident.

I regret my disappointment as much as the accident, but hope that the future may afford us many pleasant meetings.

Sincerely your friend,
Albert Holliday

Now, would you prefer this instead?

“sorry cant keep fun date W U this evening. but slipped and fell 2 the ground, hurt ankle. stuck @ home. sorry, try again 2MORO?”

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Love in the Age of Texting

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

In cased you missed it, there was a fun article in the opinion section of the Washington Post this weekend called Rule of Thumbs: Love in the Age of Texting. My next post will have some advice from a time when our ancestors would have reached for the pen, instead of the keyboard or cell phone.