Initial of last name, Mrs

   In George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, Mrs Glegg is addressed as ‘Mrs G.’ by her husband. In The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens, Mr Weller Senior also uses this form of address to his wife on at least one occasion. The peculiarity of his pronunciation means that it emerges as ‘Mrs We’. The Business of Loving, by Godfrey Smith, has five examples of ‘Mrs D.’ used in a friendly way to a housekeeper. ‘Mrs B.’ZZ is used in exactly the same way to a char/home-help in The Limits of Love, by Frederic Raphael. In A Cack-Handed War, by Edward Blishen, it is the proprietress of a well-used café who is ‘Mrs B.’ to her customers. In all these cases a move away from the polite formality of
   ‘Mrs’ + last name is achieved, without going as far as the possible condescension of first name usage.
   In The Pumpkm Eater, by Penelope Mortimer, the use of ‘Mrs A.’ to a woman who would certainly expect to be called Mrs Armitage by the speaker is sneeringly offensive. One’s friendliness or otherwise can be emphasized by qualifying this form of expression. Thus in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, Ginevra calls Mrs Cholmondeley ‘my darling Mrs C.’ A comment on this form of address occurs in Every Day is Mother’s Day, by Hilary Mantel. When a middle-aged woman neighbour remarks ‘Nasty weather, Mrs A.’ this is followed by: ‘Mrs A? As if she were the subject of an experiment.’

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.

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