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Thursday, 14 February 2013

My Modern Valentine: To Katy Perry from Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936)

Love struck Wellcome

In order to diversify our #historyvalentine blog series, we thought we would ask recently re-animated historic figure Sir Henry Wellcome (early 20th century collector and pharmaceutical entrepreneur) to write in about a modern woman he fancies. This is what we received:

Dear Katy, 

I wonder if I might trouble you to be my Valentine? I am not a man to waste time, nor to prevaricate, and I therefore expect you to arrive on the next Aeroplane to arrive at the London Heathrow Airport. I will send a car for you, emblazoned with the manly Wellcome Unicorn.  
For your reference, very manly

I realise this must feel like an incredible honour to you: To be selected as the new wife of a reanimated pharmaceutical philanthropist is a dream of many young women, and you have probably never dared to hope that it might become a reality. I would ask you not to dwell on the fact for too long, as I can't bear a woman with an inflated sense of her own importance. 

The moment I saw you I knew that you were right for me. Like you I had a strongly conservative Christian upbringing, and eventually escaped it into a world where I am surrounded by pharmaceuticals. Like you I initially worked with a number of business partners who did not make my vision sufficiently central to the shared endeavour, but who I later shedded as I moved into the most successful stage of my career. The mangy cur Silas Burroughs was in many ways my Columbia Records - short-sighted, wrong-headed and unable to appreciate genius. 

The object of Henry's
(fairly sexist) affections
I have also selected you because unlike my first wife Syrie you appreciate the value of international travel, in my case to find artefacts and in yours to practice your art. I very much look forward to accompanying you on ventures such as VH1 Divas Support the Troops, where I hope to acquire many objects from the fascinating cultures within which the USA currently wages war. I regret the decision of the Trustees of my Foundation to surrender so much Mid-Eastern material to the British Museum, but will soon replenish it from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the like. 

Unlike Syrie you already appreciate the folly of shacking-up with an "artistic" man (how I curse the usurper Maugham!) and are clearly now looking for someone more traditional, more conservative and more manly than the man/woman/orang-utan hybrid known as Russell Brand. 

I look forward to your telegraphed acceptance, and to us arranging a swift marriage. We will not remain Engagement Fellows ( for long! 

Yours etc,

Sir Henry S. Wellcome FRS FRCS MCRP*

*=Member of the Council of Re-animated Pharmacists

Follow Henry on Twitter @Henry_Wellcome

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