Laurel pen pal letters to go under the hammer

  • 5 September 2007

Letters charting the 10-year correspondence between a Scottish housewife and comedy legend Stan Laurel are to be sold at auction today in Edinburgh.

Walterina Hunter wrote a letter to Laurel as a fan in 1952, which led to the two becoming pen pals. The subsequent correspondence over the next decade concerned everything from the mundane to the death of his on screen partner Oliver Hardy.

After Hardy’s death in 1957, Laurel wrote that he had not attended the funeral of his friend on the advice of his doctor.

Suffering a nervous breakdown, he later wrote: “I don’t visit the studios anymore because I don’t know anyone there and would feel like a stranger.”

The letters are on headed notepaper from hotels in which the comedians were staying while on tour, with others sent from Laurel’s Californian home. There are three signed photographs in the collection.

Hunter and Laurel only met once – in 1954 - when a UK tour took the double act to Edinburgh.

Alex Dove, from auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull, said of their relationship: “He discusses everything from his illness to his trips around America, moving house his partnership with Oliver Hardy and the gifts that he and Mrs Hunter sent backwards and forwards to each other.

“Quite a friendship was built up and that was reflected in the content of the letters. He made a lot of time to sit down and write to her wherever he was.”

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