This is Vesta Tilley who, according to the sender, was at the time a popular idol in Manchester. Born Matilda Alice Powles, Vesta Tilley was the stage name she adopted when performing her male impersonation act. She first wore male clothes on stage at just five years old, and she continued to be popular for over thirty years. The sender has clearly seen Tilley on stage as she references her performance of ‘Following in Father’s Footsteps’, which anyone who has seen the TV adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet will no doubt recognise (it’s the main reason why I bought it).
After a little chat, the sender, Alex, whom I am assuming is male simply because of the lack of kisses, a huge number of which female friends seemed to send to each other, signs off with a rather cheeky comment of:
Hope these few lines will find you in good health and spirits (not Dewar’s though.)
Yes indeed, Alex is hoping that his recipient, Miss A. Bullmore, is not to be found in Dewar’s Scotch whisky. What a charming fellow!
(Biographical information about Vesta Tilley from the V&A website)