The identity of the mystery love letter writer, Harry, has been discovered.

Love letters, written by Harry to his wife Gracie, were stored in Stratford District Council archives and Council staff recently put out an appeal to find their rightful owners.

Gemma Gibson, communications manager at Stratford District Council, says the archives team thanks everyone who got involved in trying to solve the mystery.

A photograph of Harry, the writer of the letters found in an old house in Stratford.
A photograph of Harry, the writer of the letters found in an old house in Stratford.

With the letters dated 1895, and no surnames to go on, there wasn't much information to start with.

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Harry's full name has been revealed as Thomas Harry Penn, and the recipient of his letters was his future wife, Grace Martin.

Gracie eventually moved to Stratford to join her devoted husband there.
Gracie eventually moved to Stratford to join her devoted husband there.

Gemma says thanks to a relative coming forward to identify the young couple, more is now known about their story.

"We have discovered that Harry was the clerk of the Town Board in Stratford, and the secretary of the Stratford Hospital Board for 25 years. Harry married Gracie in 1896 in Roslyn, Otago. Gracie remained there with her parents for a few years before moving to Stratford to be with him. "

How the letters came to be in Council's possession isn't fully known, but Jill Penn, the grand-daughter in law of the couple says it might have been after Harry and Gracie's son, Thomas, moved out of the family home on Hamlet Street.

"The letters must have been well hidden, tucked away somewhere in the house, so when it then was demolished about 30 years ago, they must have been found and handed in."

Jill says she is grateful to whoever handed them in, and pleased she is able to now have the old letters in her possession.

"My grandson is really interested in family history, so this is good for him to be able to read. It is nice to sit and read their letters and know their story had a happy ending."

Both Harry and Gracie are buried in the Kopuatama Cemetery in Stratford.

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"We are so pleased to be able to return these letters to the family," Anna Officer, Information management specialist says.

"This love story has a true happily ever after, and it's been quite the buzz here at Council and in the community to know the letters are in the right hands now."

After searching for clues to the identity of Harry, it is slightly ironic to learn a photo of him is actually on display at Council, on one of the old Council photographs that line the Stratford District Council hallway.

A photograph of Harry, the writer of the letters found in an old house in Stratford.
A photograph of Harry, the writer of the letters found in an old house in Stratford.