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Hugh Ramsay

'Letters from Paris'

Hugh Ramsay's letters were written while he was living in Paris to his family back in Australia.

Hugh Ramsay portrait story
Video: 2 minutes

Hugh Ramsay: His Life and Work, by Patricia Fullerton, Hawthorn, Vic. Hudson, 1988.

Images courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia and the Ramsay Archive

Sixteen pages of letters, three drawings and notebook cover from Hugh Ramsay to home from Paris, 1901 - 1902

Ramsay’s Letters from Paris

51 Boulevarde Saint-Jacques, Paris.

My dear auntie,

My luck’s in lately. I have met someone who will be of more help to me than anyone else, namely, Madame Melba.

Madame Melba was just great, and made me tell her all about myself, and how many commissions I had. I quite fell in love with her. And she has promised, quite voluntarily of her own accord, to do everything she can to help me which, coming from such a person, is almost an assurance of success.


My dear Harry,

You ought to see one darning my socks and sewing on things generally. Oh, dear me. Lambert has just told me that I look a really awful sight. A dreadful blighter, he calls one.


My dear, wee Jessie,

So you broke up last Friday did you, Jessie? Did it hurt much? Hope they stuck you together again. I was so glad to hear that you had done so well at school. Fancy you running away with all of those beautiful prizes.


51 Boulevarde Saint-Jacques

Dear Harry, and also Tom,

A boulevard is a very wide street with trees down each side. You see women out in all kinds of weather, with no hats on. In Paris the other day, Lambert and I went on the bus, and he bought two bananas for fourpence, and chewed them walking as proud as Lucifer amongst the toffs. When here I am, squatting over my chocolate roll.


My dear auntie,

Even with time, I don’t seem to get over my fits of longing for Melbourne. If everyone you meet wishes to be remembered to me, please remember me to everyone you meet.

With much love,

From Hugh

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