Anne Boleyn Letters

Here is the letter that Anne Boleyn wrote to Henry VIII from the Tower of London, after her arrest. It was found in Thomas Cromwell’s belongings which probably means that it never made it into the hands of the King:-

Anne Boleyn in the Tower” Sir, your Grace’s displeasure, and my Imprisonment are Things so strange unto me, as what to Write, or what to Excuse, I am altogether ignorant; whereas you sent unto me (willing me to confess a Truth, and so obtain your Favour) by such a one, whom you know to be my ancient and professed Enemy; I no sooner received the Message by him, than I rightly conceived your Meaning; and if, as you say, confessing Truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all Willingness and Duty perform your Command.

But let not your Grace ever imagine that your poor Wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a Fault, where not so much as Thought thereof proceeded. And to speak a truth, never Prince had Wife more Loyal in all Duty, and in all true Affection, than you have found in Anne Boleyn, with which Name and Place could willingly have contented my self, as if God, and your Grace’s Pleasure had been so pleased. Neither did I at any time so far forge my self in my Exaltation, or received Queenship, but that I always looked for such an Alteration as now I find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer Foundation than your Grace’s Fancy, the least Alteration, I knew, was fit and sufficient to draw that Fancy to some other subject.

You have chosen me, from a low Estate, to be your Queen and Companion, far beyond my Desert or Desire. If then you found me worthy of such Honour, Good your Grace, let not any light Fancy, or bad Counsel of mine Enemies, withdraw your Princely Favour from me; neither let that Stain, that unworthy Stain of a Disloyal Heart towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a Blot on your most Dutiful Wife, and the Infant Princess your Daughter:

Try me, good King, but let me have a Lawful Trial, and let not my sworn Enemies sit as my Accusers and Judges; yes, let me receive an open Trial, for my Truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see, either mine Innocency cleared, your Suspicion and Conscience satisfied, the Ignominy and Slander of the World stopped, or my Guilt openly declared. So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your Grace may be freed from an open Censure; and mine Offence being so lawfully proved, your Grace is at liberty, both before God and Man, not only to execute worthy Punishment on me as an unlawful Wife, but to follow your Affection already settled on that party, for whose sake I am now as I am, whose Name I could some good while since have pointed unto: Your Grace being not ignorant of my Suspicion therein.

But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my Death, but an Infamous Slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired Happiness; then I desire of God, that he will pardon your great Sin therein, and likewise mine Enemies, the Instruments thereof; that he will not call you to a strict Account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at his General Judgement-Seat, where both you and my self must shortly appear, and in whose Judgement, I doubt not, (whatsover the World may think of me) mine Innocence shall be openly known, and sufficiently cleared.

My last and only Request shall be, That my self may only bear the Burthen of your Grace’s Displeasure, and that it may not touch the Innocent Souls of those poor Gentlemen, who (as I understand) are likewise in strait Imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favour in your Sight; if ever the Name of Anne Boleyn hath been pleasing to your Ears, then let me obtain this Request; and I will so leave to trouble your Grace any further, with mine earnest Prayers to the Trinity to have your Grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your Actions.

Your most Loyal and ever Faithful Wife, Anne Boleyn
From my doleful Prison the Tower, this 6th of May.

(Taken from The Life and Death of Anne Bullen, Queen Consort of England, printed by G. Smeeton, Charing Cross, Britain, 1820 and “Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic of the Reign of Henry VIII, ed. J.S. Brewer, J. Gairdner & R.H. Brodie 1862-1932).

You can read more about this letter and the debate over whether it is authentic in my article Anne Boleyn’s Letter to Henry VIII

Other Letters Written by Anne Boleyn

Letter Written to Henry VIII Summer 1526

Sire,
It belongs only to the august mind of a great king, to whom Nature has given a heart full of generosity towards the sex, to repay by favors so extraordinary an artless and short conversation with a girl. Inexhaustible as is the treasury of your majesty’s bounties, I pray you to consider that it cannot be sufficient to your generosity; for, if you recompense so slight a conversation by gifts so great, what will you be able to do for those who are ready to consecrate their entire obedience to your desires? How great soever may be the bounties I have received, the joy that I feel in being loved by a king whom I adore, and to whom I would with pleasure make a sacrifice of my heart, if fortune had rendered it worthy of being offered to him, will ever be infinitely greater.
The warrant of maid of honor to the queen induces me to think that your majesty has some regard for me, since it gives me means of seeing you oftener, and of assuring you by my own lips (which I shall do on the first opportunity) that I am,
Your majesty’s very obliged and very obedient servant, without any reserve,
Anne Bulen

Letter written by Anne Boleyn to Cardinal Wolsey, 11th June 1528

MY LORD, in my most hum-
blest wise that my heart can
think, I desire you to pardon me that
I am so bold to trouble you with my
simple and rude writing, esteeming it
to proceed from her that is much de-
sirous to know that your grace does
well, as I perceive by this bearer that
you do, the which I pray God long to
continue, as I am most bound to pray ;
for I do know the great pains and trou-
bles that you have taken for me both
day and night is never likely to be
recompensed on my part, but alonely
in loving you, next unto the king’s
grace, above all creatures living. And
I do not doubt but the daily proofs
of my deeds shall manifestly declare
and affirm my writing to be true, and
I do trust you do think the same.

My lord, I do assure you, I do long
to hear from you news of the legate;
for I do hope, as they come from you,
they shall be very good; and I am
sure you desire it as much as I, and
more, an it were possible; as I know
it is not: and thus remaining in a
steadfast hope, I make an end of my
letter.

Written with the hand of her that
is most bound to be

Your humble Servant,

Anne Boleyn.

Postscript by Henry VIII

THE writer of this letter would
not cease, till she had caused
me likewise to set my hand, desiring
you, though it be short, to take it in
good part. I ensure you that there is
neither of us but greatly desireth to
see you, and are joyous to hear that
you have escaped this plague so well,
trusting the fury thereof to be passed,
especially with them that keepeth
good diet, as I trust you do. The not
hearing of the legate’s arrival in
France causeth us somewhat to muse;
notwithstanding, we trust, by your
diligence and vigilancy (with the as-
sistance of Almighty God), shortly
to be eased out of that trouble. No
more to you at this time, but that I
pray God send you as good health
and prosperity as the writer would.
By your loving Sovereign and

Friend,

H. R.

Letter Written by Anne Boleyn to Cardinal Wolsey 1528

My lord,
In my most humble wise that my poor heart can think, I do thank your grace for your kind letter, and for your rich and goodly present, the which I shall never be able to deserve without your help, of which I have hitherto had so great plenty, that all the days of my life I am most bound of all creatures, next the king’s grace, to love and serve your grace, of the which I beseech you never to doubt that ever I shall vary from this thought, as long as any breath is in my body. And as touching your grace’s trouble with the sweat, I thank our Lord that them I desired and prayed for are escaped; and that is the king’s grace and you, not doubting that God has preserved you both for great causes known alonely of His high wisdom. And as for the coming of the legate, I desire that much. And if it be God’s pleasure, I pray him to send this matter shortly to a good end; and then I trust, my lord, to recompense part of your great pains. In the which I must require you, in the mean time, to accept my goodwill in the stead of the power; the which must proceed partly from you, as our Lord knoweth, whom I beseech to send you long life, with continuance in honor. Written by the hand of her that is most bound to be your humble and obedient servant,
Anne Boleyn

Letter Wrritten by Anne Boleyn to Cardinal Wolsey 1529

My lord,
Though you are a man of great understanding, you cannot avoid being censured by every body for having drawn on yourself the hatred of a king who had raised you to the highest degree to which the greatest ambition of a man seeking his fortune can aspire. I cannot comprehend, and the king still less, how your reverent lordship, after having allured us by so many fine promises about divorce, can have repented of your purpose, and how you could have done what you have, in order to hinder the consummation of it. What, then, is your mode of proceeding? You quarreled with the queen to favor me at the time when I was less advanced in the king’s good graces; and after having therein given me the strongest marks of your affection, your lordship abandons my interests to embrace those of the queen. I acknowledge that I have put much confidence in your professions and promises, in which I find myself deceived. But, for the future, I shall rely on nothing by the protection of Heaven and the love of my dear king, which alone will be able to set right again those plans which you have broken and spoiled, and to place me in that happy station which God wills, the king so much wishes, and which will be entirely to the advantage of the kingdom. The wrong you have done me has caused me much sorrow; but I feel infinitely more in seeing myself betrayed by a man who pretended to enter into my interests only to discover the secrets of my heart. I acknowledge that, believing you sincere, I have been too precipitate in my confidence; it is this which has induced, and still induces me, to keep more moderation in avenging myself, not being able to forget that I have been Your servant,
Anne Boleyn

Letter Written by Anne Boleyn to Thomas Cromwell, 14th May 1534

ANNE THE QUENE. By the Quene.

TRUSTIE and right welbiloued we grete you
well. And where as we be crediblie enformed that the
berer hereof Richard Herman marchaunte and citizen
of Antwerpe in Brabant was in the tyme of the late
lorde Cardynall put and expelled frome his fredome
and felowshipe of and in the Englishe house there, for
nothing ells (as he affermethe) but oonly for that that
he* dyd bothe with his gooddis and pollicie, to his
greate hurte and hynderans in this Worlde, helpe to
the settyng forthe of the Newe Testamente in Eng-
lisshe. We therefore desire and instantly praye you
that with all spede and favoure convenient ye woll
cause this good and honeste marchaunt, being my
Lordis true faithfull and loving subjecte, restored to
his pristine fredome, libertie, and felowshipe aforesaid,
and the soner at this cure requeste, and at your good
leyser to here hym in suche thinges as he hathe to
make further relacion unto you in this behalf. Yeven
undir our Signete at my Lordis manoure of Grene-
wiche the xiiijth daye of May.

To our trustie and right welbeloved

Thomas Crumwell squyer Chief Secretary
unto my Lorde the Kings Highnes.

The words “still like a good crystal man” are here obliterated : the pen having
been drawn across them.

(Source: “Original Letters Illustrative of English History: Including Numerous Royal Letters and One or Two other Collections Volume II” by Henry Ellis, Keeper of the Manuscripts in the British Museum (1824))

Letter Written By Anne Boleyn to Thomas Cromwell 1535

Master Secretary, I pray you despatch with speed this matter, for mine honor lies much on it, and what should the king’s attorney do with Pointz’s obligation, since I have the child by the king’s grace’s gift, but only to trouble him hereafter, which by no means I will suffer, and thus fare you as well as I would ye did.
Your loving mistress,
Anne the Queen

(Source of Letters: http://englishhistory.net/tudor/letters.html)

Click here to see poems that are traditionally attributed to Anne Boleyn.

27 Responses to “Anne Boleyn Letters”

  1. Kimberly Eve says:

    Hi Claire,
    Oh my goodness! Finally, a letter written in Anne Boleyn’s own words is found and shared with the world. How apt for it to be discovered amongst Thomas Cromwell’s things. Oh, if only Henry would have read Anne’s letter who knows if it would have changed anything. He was so willing to be rid of her in order to start his new life with Jane Seymour.
    I can’t stop reading Anne’s letter with tears rolling down my eyes too!
    I always knew her letters existed but believed they were destroyed by Chapuys maybe but this is incredible, simply incredible!!
    Every time I go to the website you provided to attempt to read the trial records they are not available. I’m guessing because they’re still in your possession!! I’ll keep trying though!

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  2. admin says:

    It is a shame that it didn’t get to Henry, poor Anne. No, I couldn’t get access to the records either, some historian must have them. I’ve just received a quote for about 50 GBP (pounds) to have them copied.

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  3. Kimberly Eve says:

    Hm, I wonder if it’s David Starkey. It might be Alison Weir too. She has a book coming out soon on Anne. She’s probably checking her reference list, LOL!
    No, that doesn’t surprise me at all. If you’re willing to ship to the states, add my name to the list!!

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  4. admin says:

    I was thinking Alison Weir too! I haven’t ordered them yet. The quote was for one “bitonal scan from film” of any records to do with Anne and a DVD, so I’m not really sure what I’ll get!

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  5. JUNE DECK says:

    He could have read a hundred of her so well penned letters [were all women of her time so well written?} but his mind was made up, and I do believe he was experiencing a loss of cognition by this time, and perhaps well before.The man was not only a beast, he was a mad beast with unending power. I wonder if Anne really thought she could change his mind or if she was trying to save the lives of the men accused with her. I have read the letter to him re: a fair trial, but she must by then have known that it was not possible and her death imminent. I have cried for her fear and her fear for her daughter, this man who pursued her and then not only wanted rid of her, he wanted her death. Her intelligence shines through all of her letters so one imagines she knew her fate well. This man was willing to believe and act upon anything that got him his way, she surely knew that well. His diseased mind and body were already becoming obvious by this time and the fact that her own family sold her down the river tells the story of his cruelty, I have almost felt sorry for Jane Seymour, she is probably lucky the childbirth fever? took her or she too may have died missing her head some years later when her son died. My solace is that he did at least allow her a death by sword and that is was if reports of the time are true quick and not protracted.

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  6. Claire says:

    I think there was a part of Anne that hoped Henry would allow her to go to a nunnery but I think she knew her husband too well to expect any real mercy. I only hope that Henry’s cruelty and tyranny was caused by his accident and that he wasn’t just evil!

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  7. Amanda says:

    I believe, in my opinion that Henry was extremely manipulated and that at the time he truly believed the awful lies he had been told. From everything I have read regarding Henry, he could be persuaded very easily into believing what his “trusted counsel” advised. This to me is a great sadness. I believe Anne was the greatest love of his life! I believe that because of his great love and passion for her, that her “crimes” (which I believe are completely untrue) drove him a little insane, with Jealousy and a false sense of betrayal. He was so angry and infused in such a rage, that in his mind it was a revenge for his broken betrayed heart. I believe it is because of his guilt that he became cruel and bitter later in his life.
    However, I must say that it is because of her, and the love that the two bore for one another that England had one of the greatest Queens of all time. It seems so wasteful, he wanted a son so badly and it turns out that the child he took for granted ended up ruling his great empire with great success. It is said that England, under Elizabeth I’s rule, was the happiest, wealthiest and most beloved.

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  8. Kathleen says:

    This is extremely interesting, and I am hoping to find out the name of the source where this comes from. If possible, could you let me know the name of the author, and where these fabulous correspondences are available in book format? I’m comparing the education and correspondence of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and its impact on their reputations and reigns as Queen of England for my graduate thesis, and would greatly appreciate any help I could get.

    Thank you very much!

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  9. Claire says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    Which one do you want the source for? If you look underneath the letters, the sources are at the bottom. You can find the first letter, Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, in the Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=75429 number 808 on that page, dated 6th May.
    Hope that helps.

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  10. Lucy says:

    Does the letter from the Tower still exist? I thought that only 2nd hand evidence remained and that there was some doubt about it’s authenticity?
    Are there other recorded letters in her hand? No matter to whom they are addressed, reading her choice of words and phrases gives such a great insight into her character…
    Thanks again for providing this resource!

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  11. Claire says:

    Hi Lucy,
    Yes, the letter does exist and I discuss this letter in my article http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/anne-boleyns-letter-to-henry-viii/5295/ and yes there is some doubt about its authenticity. There is no doubt about the authenticity of the other letters, they are all in the archives.

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  12. Sherri says:

    The letters that Henry wrote Anne were so beautiful. Can anyone doubt that Henry loved Anne truly ?

    I believe that which Amanda said about Henry being manipulated but he wanted to be manipulated. How very convenient for Henry to use those around him who thought that they were manipulating him when he was actually the puppet master.
    If he believed these insidious allegations against Anne then he could absolve himself of any blame or guilt. In the end, in his own mind he could always say that it wasn’t his fault – he didn’t know. When in fact Henry knew full well what Anne’s destiny was. This is where as June puts it that Henry “was a mad beast with unending power.” Henry was a narcissistic personality and they believe that they are the be all and end all. This can occur at any stage of life. Cruel, evil, distorted, mad – Henry was everything and more. In the end though, I do believe that Henry did regret having Anne executed and therefore could not look upon or be near Elizabeth for any length of time. I believe even though Jane Seymour was supposedly his “true wife” – I question that because he was not even at the same castle where Jane was giving birth to Edward nor was he beside her when she was dying.

    I will always believe that Anne was the grand passion, the love and the soul mate that Henry had looked for all his life. It is a sad and tragic love affair gone wrong somewhere, somehow. I believe that Henry had to execute Anne for different reasons than most people. I believe that hate and love go hand in hand and Henry could not afford to have the love of life still living – it would torment him to one of the deaths. The other reason being that I bellieve that Anne had a large following and one day in the future, Anne and Elizabeth might have contested the dynasty.

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  13. Charlotte says:

    I agree wth Sherri that Anne was Henrys true love. Jane wasn’t around long enough for Henry to get bored of her, who knows what may have happened to her if she had survived. Henry would have almost certainly tired of Jayne at some point.

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  14. Annie says:

    Claire, Why does Anne sign her last name as ‘Bulen; for one of the letters? I am familiar with crude speak and spelling, but I also know Anne was a very educated lady…

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    Claire Reply:

    Hi Annie,
    There was no standardised spelling in those days. I was looking at at primary source the other day, a Tudor letter, and it had the same surname spelled a couple of different ways in the same paragraph!

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    Annie Reply:

    Haha, wow! The more you know!

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    Julie Reply:

    From a”royal”struck american…first thanks for putting do much wonderful information ready to see. Seems to me that most purple forget thy henry seemed to love his first wife with all his heart and was just as happy to put her aside after all her efforts to give him children. Henry loved himself and started to believe his own propaganda. The bad thing is that no matter how smart you are you can’t deal with crazy. I do feel so much for Anne but I just can’t forget Catherine. Did Catherine at least get to have some good years after Henry?

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  15. Ingrid says:

    I have my heart in my hands reading her last letter ;/

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  16. Anna says:

    This is the first time I read the letter from the Tower in the original language and I am stunned by the personality of this amazing woman. Royalty does not come from the birth, it comes from the power of character and Anne Boleyn was a true Queen indeed. Thank you Claire for running this site, I’m really grateful for all the info that you have gathered here.

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  17. I love reading about the Tudor era I read a peice on ann where she and her accuser exsape the ax.do you know anything about this book or the tile of said book.

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  18. Tara says:

    Where are the letters kept? Are they able to be viewed?

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  19. Michelle says:

    Thanks so much for this, Claire. Are these the only surviving letters written by Anne? Have any of the letters Anne sent Elizabeth’s governess survived? I was surprised to see a letter Anne wrote to Henry in 1526as I thought that none of the letters she wrote to him had survived – are we sure of its authenticity, or is it in question? If you could tell me in total (excluding the Tower letter) how many letters we have written by Anne, I would be very grateful….thank you for your wonderful, informative site!!

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  20. Myra McGee says:

    I love your website and always learn something new. I have a masters degree in history and have always been fascinated by the Tudor period. To read Anne’s letter, filled with so much passion and strength of will, have really made her come alive for me! Thanks for the great work you do.

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  21. Bronagh says:

    Thank you for posting this,I have read it before in a boigraphy, but I was unawrae that it most likely never reached Henry.I am always impressed bythe articulate way Anne expresed herself and her sheer bravery, protesting her innocence to the end, even though she must have known that the outcome was a foregone conclusion, in fact seems to acknowledge as much. The erudite way that she pleads for the men´s lives and her daughter is very moving.
    But I am a little confused by the letter of 1534, it is in a completely differen t style, and uses completely different spelling. It is almost as though it was written by someone else. is there any explanation for this?

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  22. Sherri says:

    Claire

    I know that the letter above was disputed. That it was found in Cromwell’s files and that supposedly he did not give it to Henry. That letter if it is authentic then it might have changed Anne’s destiny. But then again, Henry wanted to marry Jane and he probably would have turned a blind eye to any evidence around him that hinted at Anne not being guilty.

    The main question that I have is that with all the technology that we have today could not it be tested as to age of the ink and paper ?? Also could the letter be scanned or whatever they do for fingerprints or dna ??? If we could then we possibly have some answers, I’m also wondering if the sketches and paintings that we do have of Anne, again could not they be tested for age etc.,

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  23. Jayne Parton says:

    i think that we forget the world that Henry was raised in.
    He was a second son in a household raised and ruled by his almost insane grandmother, who babied him to distraction.

    he had teachers who told him day in and day out that he was the most amazing smartest prince ever.
    his mother babied him.
    his dad had no time for him unless he was being more and more exuberant.

    is it really any wonder that he was a horrid small minded man?

    He married his first wife for her country alliance and for the prestige of a high blood spanish wife, with the bonus of taking his brothers place in every part of life.

    then he met Anne, and she was stunning, smart, open, happy, and carefree, compared to his wife who after the loss of so may children, and the passing of so many years was quiet and reserved, and in truth starting to slow down.

    Anne was vibrant and she turned heads everywhere she went, her manners were very french, and she was everything his wife was not.

    and please lets not bash her sex appeal to much, she knew she was sexy, and she knew how to use it. her looks caught his eye and her mind kept his heart

    ok my 2 cent input

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  24. Carolyn says:

    Hate to be a buzz kill, but the letter from Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, regarding her appointment as lady-in-waiting to the queen, is suspected to be a forgery. According to Elizabeth North of “The Anne Boleyn Papers,” Professor Retha Warnicke of Arizona State University states that, at best, “. . . it is a second-hand version of a letter that may never have existed.” (Norton, 52). Italian historian Gregorio Leti (1630-1701) was the translator of this letter, who came to England during the reign of Elizabeth I to write an Italian history of Elizabeth’s reign and claimed to have seen this letter.

    On the other hand, some believe that it is genuine, because it does not portray Elizabeth’s mother, Anne,” . . . in a positive light.” Historian Mary-Anne Wood believes that Leti was taking a risk in translating this letter (Norton, 52).

    Either of these are possibilities, but to know EXACTLY where Leti got the letter is the mystery here. :)

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