I have a character who puts a personal ad in the newspaper requesting correspondence (like a pen pal). He leaves a false name and does not want the letters sent to his home address because he wants to keep the correspondence a secret from his flatmate.
My question is, how would he ask someone to get in touch with him? Google gave me this link and this link, which give examples of personal ads from the 1860-70s in New York. Most end with something like address a line to Waldo, Williamsburg Post Office. However, this is about 20-30 years prior to my timeline, and these ads are American.
-----Keywords googled: victorian personal ads, victorian pen pals, victorian london pen pals, victorian london personal ads
I mostly ask about the wording because I do not know the best way that this man could keep this a secret from his flatmate. I have tried to find out more about the use of post office boxes at this time, but have come up dry. I inquired about this in another comm, and one person suggested that these p.o. boxes did exist and could be found in places like stationery shops, hotels, etc. So this character could pop over to a stationery shop a few streets over to pick up his mail, which was set up under a different name? Would there just be a row of boxes on the wall, each requiring a key? Would the clerk behind the counter fetch it from the back and give him his mail directly?
-----Keywords googled: history post office box, post office box victorian, post office box, post office box victorian london
This is actually the central plot of my story, so any additional information about letter writing, pen pals, newspaper ads, and the postal service during this time period is very welcome as well. Thank you!