Dear sir [he read], I would suspect I am unknown to you. I am one of several editors of the British journal, Nature, to which you have been a subscriber for these many years. I do not use the journal’s letterhead because this letter is personal and unofficial and perhaps not even in the best of taste.
You are, it may interest you to know, our eldest subscriber. We have had you on our mailing lists for more than eighty years.
While I am aware that it is no appropriate concern of mine, I have wondered if you, yourself, have subscribed to our publication for this length of time, or if it might be possible that your father or someone close to you may have been the original subscriber and you simply have allowed the subscription to continue in his name.
My interest undoubtedly constitutes an unwarranted and inexcusable curiosity and if you, sir, choose to ignore the query it is entirely within your rights and proper that you do so. But if you should not mind replying, an answer would be appreciated.
I can only say in my own defense that I have been associated for so long with our publication that I feel a certain sense of pride that someone has found it worth the having for more than eighty years. I doubt that many publications can boast such long time interest on the part of any man.
May I assure, you, sir, of my utmost respect.