Margot Fry

Tom's Letters: The Private World of Thomas King, Victorian Gentleman

ISBN: 9780864733917

‘I enjoyed this book. It is accessible, informative and easy to read . . . a valuable addition to New Zealand’s explanding historical collection.’
—Wanganui Chronicle

In 1854, Thomas King temporarily left his wife and three children in New Plymouth to attend the first General Assembly in Auckland. Lonely and alone he wrote to his Mary:

I shall come back starved for want of kisses and shall have to return not to a coy blushing maid, but to a ripe joyous woman, one who will return my kisses with ardour and respond with warmth to my embraces.

While there has been considerable interest in revealing the lives of 19th-century women, men have been slow to emerge from behind the positions they held or the jobs they did. The personal letters of Thomas King—businessman and politician (and father of Frederic Truby King, founder of The Plunket Society)— offer an extraordinary opportunity to consider the whole man.

The letters in this book are drawn from the Alexander Turnbull Library’s large Thomas King Collection. They take us from the young bachelor on New Plymouth Beach in 1841, to the family man well established in the worlds of business and politics. They take us close to the pleasures and pressures of colonial life, and give us a finely nuanced insight into a Victorian marriage.

Praise for Tom's Letters

This book not only gives a contemporary account of life in colonial New Zealand, but more importantly the private life of one man.

It is accessible,informative and easy to read, well referenced but unobtrusively so. A valuable addition to New Zealand's expanding historiacal collection.


. . . accessible, affectionate

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