Neville Mills

The Humphrey Hatt Letters


The Sydney Morning Herald - Yes Minister, they’re Humphrey’s Letters.

Sydney finally has an answer to Primary Colours. It’s The Humphrey Hatt Letters, a volume of farcical correspondence between the anonymous Mr. Hatt and celebrated folk such as Nelson Mandela, John Major and Pauline Hanson. The letters written by the bombastic Mr. Hatt who in his day job poses as Sydney headhunter Neville Mills, receives replies from equally pompous celebs or their personal assistants. When Hatt asked John Major about Prince Charles’s stallion farting near Camilla, Major’s PA stated coyly; “I note and understand your concern about the story concerning HRH Prince Charles. I hope you will understand that this is not a matter on which the Prime Minister can comment”. And a plea to Tony Abbott that he organise a Mosman Gay and Lesbian Festival elicited the following: “In my uni days, I was something of a Homophobe. While time (and my friendship with the likes of Christopher Pearson) has mellowed and matured my outlook, I’m not sure that I am quite your man.” Many seem to have fallen for Humphrey’s thinly disguised ruse, including Nick Minchin, John Howard, the Queen’s Lady-in Waiting and even the old charmer Bryce Courtenay. Courtenay – speaking from Melbourne where he’s flogging his latest opus Jessica – denied that he had ever been sucked in, despite writing Hatt an extensive letter exhorting him to “have courage” in tackling his novel Trotter Trips and Triumphs. The best selling author’s tips for success included’ The novel form can be reduced to mathematics” and, something Hatt obviously ignored, ‘Don’t try to be cute.” “You have to maintain his fiction,” Courtenay said, “It’s much better just to go along with them.”

Sydney Morning Herald.    7 December 1998.

Business Review Weekly - Seriously Cheap Tricks.

In the 1980’s the letters of Henry Root caused hilarity throughout the English-speaking world. Root (in reality the English writer William Donaldson) wrote to British celebrities and institutions, offering support and flattery, sometimes appealing to their vanity or bigotry, and asking for their assistance. He was generally taken seriously, and this was evident from the replies he received, which must have caused much embarrassment when they were published in a book.

  Now there is an Australian version: one Humphrey Hatt (aka Neville Mills) who has landed some plump catches.

The Humphrey Hatt Letters and Their Replies includes missives to and from such notables as President Bill Clinton (about male circumcision) former Prime Minister Paul Keating (limericks) and Janet Holmes a Court, offering her Heytsbury Group three ridiculous inventions:

  1. A “twins” perambulator that can be converted into a concrete mixer.

  2. A camouflaged dog kennel equipped with plastic down-pipes and a heated ski-boot cupboard.

  3. A frying pan for seafood that automatically switches on when the telephone rings.

Holmes a Court replied to the offer in this way:

Dear Mr.Hatt,

Unfortunately we are unable to become involved in your business opportunity as we are not looking to make any outside investments. As you can imagine, our six enterprises within the Heytesbury Group, being construction, beef production, theatres, road haulage, viticulture, and thoroughbreds, keep us quite busy.

We wish you all the best for the future’


The Holmes a Court Foundation.

Business Review Weekly, 21 December 1998.

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The Humphrey Hatt Letters.

Published in 1998, and reprinted in 2010, The Humphrey Hatt Letters describes a variety of events involving the amazing Hatt family. They include Humphrey’s correspondence with Australian and world leaders, celebrities and sporting personalities. You’ll enjoy Humphrey’s appeals

•to Tony Abbott suggesting he organise a Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

•to Bill Clinton regarding male circumcision.

•to Andrew Denton about his son, Herbert’s role in the school play.

•to Nelson Mandela regarding a family visit to South Africa.

•to Bryce Courtenay seeking advice on writing a novel.

•and many many more.