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!


Love Archive

Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends! I thought I’d share with you some recent finds from a shopping trip I took in Austin, Texas, with my budding antique-loving 10 year old niece, Olivia. We had a grand day shopping at Uncommon Objects. She scored a great mechanical pencil and a cute little painted wooden bug, plus we both got some old coke bottle caps and inscribed them with our initials and dates to remember our fun trip by. Talk about love!

Anyway, my big score was four “Your Perfect Wife/Your Perfect Children” cards, from 1935. I have five of the “Your Perfect Husband” cards that I posted on my Facebook page awhile back – sadly I couldn’t immediately find the original images to repost on Flickr (so much for good personal digital preservation practices), and the original cards are somewhere in my messy office. But you might be able to get to them by clicking here.

I hope you enjoy these, I think they are a hoot!
Your Future Wife, Your Future Children

Your Future Wife, Your Future Children

Your Future Wife, Your Future Children

This one is my favorite (seeing as I married a musician):

Your Future Wife, Your Future Children

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

I had big plans for a post today about love, but my main computer went into the shop last night and I am typing on the iPad, which I admit I am not very speedy at doing! So instead of a big post here, I thought I would share snippets of love advice and other quotes about love on my twitter account @dearmissabigail (https://mobile.twitter.com/#!/dearmissabigail) and over on my Facebook page:


I hope you will join me there!

Permit of Freedom

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Permit of Freedom

My dear sweet husband made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies today, and it’s the anniversary of the week of our first date (I know, sappy!), so I hereby dedicate this special Lover’s Fun Card to him.

Retaining the Sweetness of Love (1923)

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Here wraps up the tale of Richard and Sallie (featured recently in how to win a woman, from Elinor Glyn’s The Philosophy of Love. Glyn summarizes how this couple should work to keep their love going:


To keep love it requires the united effort of Richard and Sallie! It cannot be a one-sided affair!

To put the matter concisely:

(1) Love is caused by some attracting vibrations emanating from the two participants which draw each to each.

(2) Thus love depends, not upon the will of the individual, but upon what attracting power is in the other person.

(3) Thus obviously it lies with each to cultivate and continue to project the emanation if either desire to retain the love emotion of the other.

(4) When these points are clearly understood, intelligence can suggest the most suitable methods to use to accomplish the desired end, namely, the retaining of the power to draw love mutually.

So, as in everything we do in life, is it not well to use some intelligence and though over the great matters of Love?

For cynics may say what they please ~ Love is the supreme and only perfect happiness on earth. Everything else is second best ~ often a very good second, but nowhere near the real thing.

So why, when love is bound to come to us all sooner or later, not try to retain its sweetness?


How to Win a Woman, part II (1923)

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Recently, I featured some advice from the lovely and talented Elinor Glyn on how to win a woman. Excerpted from her 1923 book The Philosophy of Love, Glyn tells the story of Richard, who is trying to woo his love, Sallie. We left off wondering if any of Glyn’s tips might have paid off for our dear sweet Richard. Let’s read on and see…


He has met Sallie several times, but seems not to have been able to make much advance. He has been just ordinary and has talked of the everlasting old things that he has talked to every girl about since he first went to school. Now the next time they meet he must turn the conversation on to personal things and get her to tell him her likes and her tastes; he must make her talk about herself (not a very difficult matter with most women!), and he must plainly show his interest. He must let her feel her maneuvering to be alone with her and desires her company. And the more he lets her see that his character is strong, the more he will attract her.

It is not of the slightest consequence how masterful a man shows himself to be, if at the same time he is a passionate lover ~ the woman in the case will always adore him. It is coldness and casualness which disillusionise, and, as I said in another chapter, above all, mulish wordlessness!


Glyn goes on to give some examples of ways to show that a man loves a woman, depending on the type of girl she is and what she might respond to. It’s quite long so I will cut to the chase and get back to how Richard and Sallie are doing, in particular:


When he is quite sure that she loves him, and when the psychological moment has arrived that he asks her to marry him, he must see that his caresses are tender as well as passionate, for exquisite caresses are the strongest of love awakeners. The touch of a hand in passing is enough to make a delicious thrill! It starts the working of the magnet, and that is why continuous flirtations are so stupid.

Lovers always like to be close together. And if touching grows to mean nothing to them, then they may know very well that the intoxication is over, and at best a friendship is between them. Love always manifest itself in the desire to touch the Beloved One.

When Richard marries Sallie he can almost certainly keep her in love with him if he desires to do so. He has only to remain a masterful and fond lover to accomplish this miracle, and not subside into the usual stodgy, complacent husband, absorbed in business and too tired when he comes home to be agreeable!


In my next post, I’ll share some parting thoughts from Glyn on how Richard and Sallie (and all of you out there) might keep that love going.

How to Win a Woman, part 1 (1923)

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

This weekend prior to Valentine’s day, I return to Elinor Glyn’s The Philosophy of Love, which is a wonderful little book from 1923. In this excerpt, from a chapter titled “The Man’s Side,” the author provides advice to the fictional Richard, about the object of his love, Sallie:


A young man should be very sure that it is the special woman who is drawing him strongly, and that he is not just imagining that she is his heart’s desire because he himself is experiencing the desire to love. Do make your own examination of your emotions, Richard, when you first fall in love with some girl ~ that is, first experience that drawing sensation which makes you desire to be near her, and causes your heart to beat, and gives you a sense of exaltation. Do ask yourself if she is appealing to your mind or your soul ~ whether you feel degraded or uplifted in spirit after you have spent some time with her. Because if it is only the physical she is appealing to, you have not much chance of future happiness with her ~ and you had better crush the feeling before it has gone too far and landed you in a morass….

Men are absolutely idiotic about women once they fall in love. They cannot see their faults; they appear to have no intuition which warns them they are being deceived; they are bamboozled and led by affectations which would not for an instant impose upon women! But because men’s senses are delighted, their reason sleeps, and they court their own unhappiness.

So do try to remain awake, Richard, and strip off the glamour from your emotion for Sallie, and see if there is “anything to it.” We will suppose you do this, and find she is quite a nice girl really, regardless of her attractions; then go ahead!

Show her that you like her, and think of little things to please her ~ she will be greatly touched if you do. Make her feel that you respect as well as love her, but that you do not intend to stand any nonsense, and the first time that she is capricious and unreasonable let her see that you resent it and will not be made a fool of.

If she is fond of you she will not want to lose you, and if she is not, you had better retire in any case ~ the abject lover is such a pitiful creature! But to make her love you in the beginning, when she seems to be indifferent, you must use intelligence.

Nothing pleases a woman so much as a quiet self-confidence in a man and his showing that he is taking trouble about her. If he asks her out to dinner, that he has arranged everything for her comfort; if he is to meet her anywhere, that he is not casual about it.

Any action which suggests to the woman that the man has used thought about her is delightful to her self-love.

Audacity, when it does not develop into impertinence, is also a great charm!


Curious to see how things turn out for Richard and Sallie? Tune in to my next installment

Professor Huggum

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Professor Huggum

Yet another card in this month’s Fun Card series: “Wholesale dealer in Love, Hugs, Squeezes and Kisses… samples free on request!” Hee! This one speaks for itself.

Lover’s Fun Card Set: Kicking off the Month of Love

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Lover's Fun Card SetIt’s February, and you know what that means – Valentine’s Day! Which is super fantastic if you have a mate in your life. Of course, if you are still looking for — or on a break from — love, it can be a bit of a downer what with all that mushy red heart stuff happening all around you.

Never fear, Miss Abigail is here to help! All this month, I’ll be featuring advice for the lovelorn, advice for those in love, and those looking for love. I’ll highlight some of my favorite posts about love and heartbreak, the joys of being single, and the joys of making out.

As a special treat, I’m going to share with you something I forgot I had in my collection, until I found them on my bookshelf the other day. It’s the Lover’s Fun Card Set. “This card case has dozen real funny cards each one good” says the cover, so it’s bound to bring you some chuckles this month. I’m not sure of the date, so we’ll just have to go with “classic.” I’ll post the first one this weekend.

And if you haven’t picked up my book Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage yet, February would be a great time to do it, don’t you agree?

Falling in Love with a Married Man

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

tender anguish and exciting unfulfillmentThis was originally written long ago with Monica Lewinsky on the mind, but perhaps it will continue to guide other young people as they make decisions about who they spend their time with.

1956: Falling in Love with a Married Man

Very little has ever been written about falling in love with a married man. It is supposed not to happen. Yet it is not at all uncommon, especially among teen-age girls, and even among older women, too. The reasons are understandable.

Married Men are Older. For the teen-age girl, the married man is usually older and therefore, in her eyes, more experienced and mature. We have already seen that girls mature earlier than boys of their own age. So it often happens that a girl who is growing up much faster than the boys around her thinks that they are childish and silly and finds herself dreaming about the charms of older men. The married men she has contact with ~ the coach, a teacher, perhaps the principal, or a minister ~ seems so much more grown up and excitingly mature that her love interests turn to them rather than to the boys of her own age who are still just “children.”

Girls may do foolish things in their attachments to older men. They should guard themselves from becoming either too obvious in their infatuations or too deeply engrossed inside themselves. Fortunately, most girls outgrow this stage fairly soon and may look back upon these early crushes with amused wonder. But while emotionally entangled with the older man, it is not funny at all.

The Romance of Unfulfillment is Different. Not being able to do something about love makes the romance especially exciting. When one loves a boy of one’s own age and kind, who is a possible fiancé and husband, one can date and dream and plan for a common future. One’s friends can talk about the plans and one’s family may tease. One is free to tell the world about his love and its great promise. It pours out in a thousand ways.

But loving a married man gives no such outlets. It just isn’t done. Almost no one can be told about how wonderful he is. There can be no plans that give promise ~ nothing but dreams that go around and around, tenderly reliving his possible light touch, the way he looks, the way one feels about him, and the utter hopelessness of the affection. Love with no place to go tends to be absorbing, tensely frustrating, full of tender anguish and exciting unfulfillment. With all its excitement and romance, it still has no future, no place in our fullest lives.

Society Scorns the Other Woman. In almost all triangles involving married persons, it is the unmarried outsider who is blamed for the affair. Marriage is such a sacred institution that any girl or woman who alienates the affection of the married man is apt to be held in contempt by most people. The girl who wants to punish herself will find that getting involved with a married man is a sure way of doing it. Girls who are going through difficult days in breaking away from their parents may unconsciously get themselves into disgrace as a way to hurt their families. They find that social disapproval falls fast and hard upon the heads of the silly school girls who do it.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ pp. 316-17, 320-21 ~

The Husband as Lover

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

keep on wooingThis was originally posted as the wedding of my baby sister approached, with thoughts of love and marriage obviously been on my mind. This excerpt is from the 1940 edition of the ever-informative and open-minded Happiness in Marriage, by none other than the founder of the birth control movement, Margaret Sanger.

1940: The Husband as Lover

Happiness in marriage must be endlessly recaptured and renewed. It cannot be gained once and held forever in the possession of the husband. Therefore to husbands of all ages ~ young, middle-aged and even old ~ these directions are indispensable:

Keep on wooing.

Make the love you have found and which means so much to both of you your religion. For it can be the noblest of religions.

Keep your wife eternally youthful. This may seem an impossible task, but it is not and will more than repay you. Happiness is essential for the health and growth of love. Love must keep on growing. It cannot stand still. It grows or it dies. Love cannot thrive in silence. Therefore assure her, reassure her of your deep and growing affection. Good tidings invigorate the flagging energies of a band of explorers; a deep joy enables men and women to transcend the frailties of human weakness. Disappointment, sorrow, depress and disturb the vital functions. Therefore, husband and wife as well, tell your love at all times to each other.

Some men only do this occasionally, or when desire is at high tide. They make a grave mistake. Acts may express this love more eloquently than words. But do not, on this account, conclude that words are not necessary also. They are. Love needs constant reassurance. Your wife is in all probability not a mind reader. Unless you tell her, break through the reticence and embarrassment of expessing your thoughts, she may never know what you are thinking and feeling.

This is a greater problem among men who are naturally taciturn and silent, among men who are born and brought up in a tradition which encourages a suppression of stirred emotions. But do not make the mistake of supposing that women do not like to be told over and over again of the love she inspires. This is a story women never tire of hearing. This is a thought all husbands should keep constantly in mind. This is the tonic that rejuvenates and keeps both young.

This next section is from later in the book…

In homes where there are no servants, the household duties such as washing and clearing away the dishes are often shared equally, and the slight burdens become an easily and pleasurably accomplished task.

What were formerly considered exclusively feminine duties seem today to be voluntarily taken on by the husband. Surely there is no loss in manliness or dignity in sharing the heavier and more disagreeable household tasks. In my estimation this mutual acceptance of household duties by the husband as well as the wife does more than any other single thing toward the creation of that splendid comradeship and companionship which are the solidest foundations of permanent homes and happy marriages.

The husband who balks at such tasks and looks upon such duties as essentially feminine, who considers himself henpecked when asked to help in them, is indeed a pathetic creature. He is, moreover, exhibiting an ungenerous and thoughtless side of his nature which will be apprehensively watched by his wife. He cannot know the real joys of true companionship in his married life, and he has himself only to blame when his own action brings out similar traits in his wife. This has been the traditional and unfortunate attitude of many foreign born men toward their wives. Women were not made merely to serve the physical and sexual needs of husbands, with no obligation on the part of the latter except to provide a house and to pay the bills. Fortunately for all of us this type of husband is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Source: Sanger, Margaret . Happiness in Marriage. Garden City, New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1940.
~ pp. 221-222, 225-26 ~