Quarto, one page, a typed letter signed on crested Commonwealth of Australia letterhead (with the printed title 'Prime Minister' typed over), Nelson Road, Lindfield, Sydney, NSW, 19 December 1924; and octavo, two pages (one leaf), an autograph letter signed on Commonwealth of Australia letterhead (with the printed title 'Prime Minister' struck out), Lindfield, 25 December 1924.
Both items are creased where folded for posting, with a few marginal marks and pinholes; in very good condition.
The letters are addressed to Master Leo Cooke, Royal Hotel, St Kilda. The first letter is in response to a recent letter from Leo, a thank-you to Hughes for sending his autograph. 'My dear little boy, I ... am very glad to know you are pleased with my Autograph. I am sorry to know that you are still strapped down flat on your back. It must be very tiring, but you are a brave little fellow, and that is what I like you for.' Hughes then suggests if 'there any Autographs that you would like ... I will try and get them for you. I am sorry that we have none of the wonderful things that you have, but my little girl has asked me to get her a parrot for Christmas. I am showing her your letter, and I'm sure she will be quite envious. I have not forgotten about going to see you, and bringing my little girl, whenever we go to Melbourne. I am sending you a book, and you must let me know if you like it, and if you would like any other, and if so I will send it'. The second letter was written on Christmas Day: 'My dear little boy, I hope you will like the book I sent you. Yesterday I went to see the Test Match & got the Autographs of the Australian XI & two or three great cricketers of former years. I am sending you these by this mail, & as soon as I can get them will send along those of the English XI.' Both letters finish off with best wishes for a Happy Christmas and New Year, 'I am, Your sincere friend, W.M. Hughes'. These letters come with an autograph letter signed by Hughes's young daughter, Helen: octavo, two pages (the outer surfaces of a bifolium), 'Elderslie', Lindfield, NSW, 21 January 1925; creased where folded for posting, with minor marginal blemishes and remains of prior mounting on the blank verso; in very good condition. Helen continues the correspondence with young Leo, thanking him 'very much for the dear little birds, they were very cold when they came, and wet, we put some dry sand in and they came and warmed their feet, they are getting used to us now. I am very sorry you have to be on your back all the time ... It is dreadfully hot in Sydney and I like Melbourne much better. I hope you will get better soon. Yours sincerely, Helen Hughes'. In March 1901 William Morris Hughes (1862-1952) won a seat in the first House of Representatives. He 'replaced Andrew Fisher as Prime Minister in 1915 [until 1923] and led Australia during World War 1. Hughes' campaign for conscription during the 1914-18 war split the Labor Party and affected political alignment in Australia for the next half century. After the war, Hughes was instrumental in the international recognition of Australia as an independent nation through its membership of the League of Nations.... [To this day] No parliamentarian has surpassed his 51 years and 7 months of continuous service as a member of Australia's House of Representatives from the 1st parliament in 1901 to the 20th in 1952' (National Archives of Australia website). His lengthy entry in the 'Australian Dictionary of Biography' states towards its conclusion: 'A controversial figure all his life, he remains so still. To some a great statesman and patriot, to others he was a renegade and mountebank. He aroused extremes of admiration or hatred, but never indifference. Abrasive and ruthless, he could also be charming and amusing. Often mean, he could sometimes be very generous. He would fly into violent rages, which would soon be forgotten. A gift to cartoonists, he became in old age a figure of fun to those who knew nothing of his prime'. These warm and personal letters show another side to William Morris Hughes. He had 'fathered six children out of wedlock with his first partner, de facto wife Elizabeth Cutts', who died in 1906. Hughes married Mary Campbell in 1911, and Helen was born on 11 August 11 1915, 'when Hughes was 52 and Mary 41. For Hughes, estranged from his first family, Helen's birth brought a late discovery of the joys of fatherhood. He doted on her, taking her on some of his long overseas voyages'. These letters, written when Hughes was 62, clearly bear out these feelings of affection, and not only for Helen. Tragically, she predeceased her parents: she 'died alone in a London nursing home in August 1937, just three days short of her 22nd birthday ... as a result of complications from pregnancy'. The child survived, according to the article in 'The Age', 7 August 2004, from which this information is derived. [3 items].