In just a few short weeks, I'm getting married to the man God intended me to find. It took a while, and it took some heartache. It was long and.
A great-grandmother has finally received love letters sent to her by her soldier fiancé who died after his ship was sunk in World War II.
Phyllis Ponting, 99, was handed the heart-breaking notes after they recovered by salvagers from the bottom of the Atlantic.
She had thought Bill Walker, serving with the Wiltshire Regiment, had never answered her letter in which she said yes to his proposal of marriage.
Mrs Ponting went on to marry another man, Jim Holloway, and had four children, and when he died, she married Reginald Ponting.
She has seven great-grandchildren.
Mrs Ponting was tracked down by BBC’s The One Show, which did a feature about the letters, and told them: ‘I can’t believe the letter was at the bottom of the sea and now I can read it.
‘I don’t think Bill can have survived the war, otherwise he would have been straight round to my address in Roseland Avenue.
‘We would have been married. He loved me a lot.’
MORE: Mystery fingerprints on Gatwick drone ‘fail to give police fresh lead’
In the letter from Mr Walker, who she met while he was stationed in Devizes, he was over the moon after she accepted the proposal.
He said: ‘I wish you could have been there when I opened it.
‘I wept with joy. I could not help it. If you could only know how happy it made me, darling.”’
The note was among 700 personal letters, many from servicemen, written from British India.
The letters are now part of an exhibition called Voices from the Deep, being staged at London’s Postal Museum.
MORE: Couple who wed on first date reveal what life is like as man and wife
Mr Walker was travelling on Gairsoppa, a steam-powered cargo ship, which was torpedoed and sunk by German submarines in 1941 off the coast of Ireland.
In total 83 of the 84 crew members died.
It was salvaged by American-backed firm Odyssey Marine Exploration, which said it was the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metals from a shipwreck ever made.
The company, under contract to the British Government, will get to keep 80 per cent of the haul after expenses.
The remaining 20 per cent will go to the Treasury.
The first 1,200 silver bars, or about 1.8 million troy ounces, was worth about £23.7 million (about $37 million).
The vessel was carrying 48 tons of silver.
Or go a less ephemeral route and pen a love letter. As these famous heartfelt missives show, the written word is everlasting—just as you hope.
By Daily Mail Reporter
Updated: 14:28 BST, 17 August 2009
A couple celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary have shared the romantic story how they fell in love in the aftermath of World War II - by writing 600 love notes to each other.
Geoff and Pat Bunyan, now 83 and 82, met as teenagers in 1945 and became friends but he was posted abroad before love could blossom.
The couple wrote to each other nearly every day and their friendship gradually turned to romance as their letters became ever-more amourous.
Declaration of love: Diamond wedding anniversary couple Geoff and Pat Bunyan with the 600 letters they wrote to each other while Geoff was posted overseas following the Second World War
Wartime sweethearts: Geoff and Patt Bunyan on their wedding day in 1949
When Geoff was finally demobilised in 1948 they married and bought a house - which they still live in today.
The couple have kept all 600 letters, which they shared with family and friends as they toasted 60 years of married life.
Mr Bunyan believes the letters are the secret to their long and happy marriage.
'We became friends before we became lovers and those letters helped us get to know each other properly,' he said. 'I think that's why we're still together today.
'I guess you could say we're the last of the ultra-romantics. Those letters were my lifeline while I was miles from home.
'It soon progressed from 'cheerio' to 'all my love'. I guess we did fall in love by letter.
'They were up in the loft for a long time but in the past ten years or so years I've been reading through them again.'
The couple met on the Clifton Down fields in Bristol when Pat was 18 and Geoff, then a 19-year-old Londoner, was doing his medical training at Bristol's Southmead hospital.
Wiping away a happy tear, Mrs Bunyan said: 'I was just 18 when I met him on the Bristol Downs, but I was a very innocent 18-year-old.
'We got on straight away and became best friends, spending every day together but before anything could happen he was whisked away to war.'
The war in Europe had ended but Geoff, then Private Bunyan, was drafted to India and then on to Japan for two years in the aftermath of Hiroshima.
Their letters progressed from casual chats to declarations of love sent across 6,000 miles. They numbered each one to make sure none went missing in the post.
Just after Geoff had arrived in India, he wrote to Pat on 19 October 1945 and said: 'My dear Pat. Today I had one of the greatest moments of my life.
'We arrived in smelly Bombay early this morning and after dinner, to everybody's surprise, a couple of dozen mail bags came on board. Mail! What a glorious word that is.
'And how lovely to have six letters of yours waiting for me! How excited I was! I ripped open the envelopes and read them through quickly. Tonight I feasted on them again.'
Two years later their love had developed and the tone of their letters became more romantic.
On 19 January, 1947, Mrs Bunyan wrote a letter to Geoff which read: 'I'm glad you think yourself lucky but I can't think why.
Blossoming romance: One of the 600 letters which Geoff and Pat wrote to each other nearly every day
'I'm quite ordinary really darling and it's only because you love me that you think I'm wonderful. It's wonderful loving someone like you. I'm so glad I fell in love with you first.'
Mr Bunyan wrote back on February 10, 1947 by saying: 'You have the nerve to say you're quite ordinary and point out that it's only because I love you that I think you're wonderful.
'Maybe so, but have you thought that perhaps I'm in love with you because you are wonderful... I am lucky to have such a girl as you in love with me.'
The couple kept up their letter writing until Mr Bunyan was demobilised in January 1948. He moved straight to Bristol and they got married on August 13, 1949.
Later that year they bought a house in Horfield, Bristol, for £450 where they still live now - after 60 years, three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Mrs Bunyan, who worked as a school secretary for 28 years, said: 'Our secret is that we both have a love of laughs. And we still talk a lot and are the best of friends.
'I had a terrible fall and broke my pelvis a few years ago and he has looked after me so well.'
Mr Bunyan, a retired sales manager for an engineering company, said: 'We have both worked hard, and believe in the division of labour, but we have always shown integrity and respect.
'We have never gone to sleep on a quarrel, and when we were young we had a great sex life, and have been very lucky with children.
'Meeting her is still the best thing that ever happened to me and we are still going strong. She is my rock.'
I have no words for you, my dearest, – I shall never have – You are mine, I am yours. Now, here is one sign of what I said: that I must love you more than at first… a little sign, and to be looked narrowly for or it escapes me, but then the increase it shows can only be little, so very little now…
At first I only thought of being happy in you, – in your happiness: now I most think of you in the dark hours that must come – I shall grow old with you, and die with you – as far as I can look into the night I see the light with me: and surely with that provision of comfort one should turn with fresh joy and renewed sense of security to the sunny middle of the day, – I am in the full sunshine now, – and after, all seems cared for – is it too homely an illustration if I say the day’s visit is not crossed by uncertainties as to the return thro’ the wild country at nightfall? –
Now Keats speaks of “Beauty – that must die – and Joy whose hand is ever at his lips, bidding farewell.” And who spoke of – looking up into the eyes and asking “And how long will you love us”? – There is a Beauty that will not die, a Joy that bids no farewell, dear dearest eyes that will love forever! And I – am to love no longer than I can – Well, dear – and when I can no longer – you will not blame me? – you will do only as ever, kindly and justly, – hardly more: I do not pretend to say I have chosen to put my fancy to such an experiment, and consider how that is to happen, and what measures ought to be taken in the emergency – because in the “universality of my sympathies” I certainly number a very lively one with my own heart and soul, and cannot amuse myself by such a spectacle as their supposed extinction or paralysis, – there is no doubt I should be an object for the deepest commiseration of you or any more fortunate human being: – and I hope that because such a calamity does not obtrude itself on me as a thing to be prayed against, it is no less duly implied with all the other visitations from which no humanity can be altogether exempt – just as God bids us ask for the continuance of the “daily bread”, – “battle, murder and sudden death” lie behind doubtless – I repeat, and perhaps in so doing, only give one more example of the instantaneous conversion of that indignation we bestow in another’s case, into wonderful lenity when it becomes our own, … that I only contemplate the possibility you make me recognize, with pity, and fear … no anger at all, – and imprecations of vengeance, for what? – Observe, I only speak of cases possible; of sudden impotency of mind, – that is possible – there are other ways of “changing”, “ceasing to love” &c which it is safest not to think of nor believe in…
And now, love, dear heart of my heart, my own, only Ba – see no more – see what I am, what God in his constant mercy ordinarily grants to those who have, as I, received already so much, – much, past expression! It is but … if you will so please – at worst, forestalling the one or two years, for my sake; for you will be as sure of me one day as I can be now of myself – and why not now be sure? See, love – a year is gone by – we were in one relation when you wrote at the end of a letter “Do not say I do not tire you” (by writing) – “I am sure I do” – A year has gone by – Did you tire me then? Now, you tell me what is told; for my sake, sweet, let the few years go by, – we are married – and my arms are round you, and my face touches yours, and I am asking you, “Were you not to me, in that dim beginning of 1846, a joy beyond all joys, a life added to and transforming mine, the good I choose from all the possible gifts of God on this earth, for which I seem to have lived, – which accepting, I thankfully step aside and let the rest get what they can, – of what, it is very likely, they esteem more – for why should my eye be evil because God’s is good, – why should I grudge that, giving them, I do believe, infinitely less, he gives them a content in the inferior good and belief in its worth – I should have wished that further concession, that illusion as I believe it, for their sakes – but I cannot undervalue my own treasure and so scant the only tribute of mere gratitude which is in my power to pay.” – Hear this said now before the few years, and believe in it now, for then, dearest!”
11 January 1846
Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Leading Victorian writer Elizabeth Barrett Browning is as known for her enduring love for Robert Browning (immortalised in their letters to each other) as she is for her lyrical Romantic poetry. After her mother’s death in 1828, Barrett Browning moved with her father from the family estate in Herefordshire, first to Devon and then to London. There, her cousin, John Kenyon, introduced her to many of the leading writers of the day, including Coleridge, Wordsworth and Tennyson. For her mid-teens, Barrett Browning had suffered from a mysterious illness that resulted in severe headaches and limited mobility, but she directed all of her energy in writing the outstandingly beautiful poems for which she became famous. In 1844, Barrett Brownings’collection Poems brought her public acclaim and also to the notice of Robert Browning, a young poet, who began corresponding with her. The couple finally met in 1845 and their courtship began in earnest, although it was carried out secretly.
The couple had a profound influence on each other’s writing and their love for each other is revealed in the lovely letters they exchanged with each other, even after their marriage. They honeymooned in Paris and then made their home in Italy, where they resided until Barrett Browning’s death on 29 June 1861. She died in her husband’s arms.
See ‘The Browning Letters‘, a digital collection, a collaboration between Baylor University and Wellesley College
I don’t know how to tell you just how much I miss you. I love you till my heart could burst. All I love, all I want, all I need is you – forever. I want to just be where you are and be just what you want me to be.
I know its lousy of me to be so late so often and I promise to try a million times harder, I promise. I want someday for you to be proud of me as a person and as your wife and as your wife and as the mother of the rest of your children. (two at least! I’ve decided.)
I miss it so much when you don’t love me and hold me and cuddle me to sleep every night. I want to be near you and I feel so sad tonight.
Darling, please don’t leave me anymore.
Marilyn Monroe to Joe DiMaggio
In 1954, Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio married; it was the second marriage for both of them. Nine months later, they divorced. Although many of their friends thought the relationship doomed from the start, Monroe and DiMaggio had genuine affection for each other. In fact, after Monroe’s divorce from playwright Arthur Miller, in 1961, DiMaggio came back into Monroe’s life and even proposed to her again. He did his best to protect her from people he deemed harmful, but it was too late for Monroe. Just 18 months after the end of her marriage to Miller, Monroe was dead. DiMaggio never married again.
This letter from 1954, shows Monroe’s affection for DiMaggio and also hints at some tension in the marriage, as she apologises for always being late – something she was famous for.
Happy Birthday Princess,
We get old and get use to each other. We think alike. We read each others minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted. But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.
Happy Birthday Princess.
July 11 2003
I love June Carter, I do. Yes I do. I love June Carter I do. And she loves me.
But now she’s an angel and I’m not. Now she’s an angel and I’m not.”
First letter written on the occasion of June Carter Cash’s 65th birthday, 1995; the second after June Carter Cash’s death
Johnny Cash to June Carter Cash
This is cheating a bit but it’s my list and Johnny Cash’s letters to his beloved June Carter Cash are just lovely. The love story of the two very influential musicians has been immortalised in words, song and on film. They met in March 1968 and married almost 13 years later after a turbulent, troubled, but passionate relationship. Both letters from Johnny really sum up how he felt for his wife and partner of so many years and I’ve included the second letter because it deserves to be noted and shows that love, true love, doesn’t end with death.
Dearest Angel Girl:
…I suppose most of us are lonely in this big world, but we must fall tremendously in love to find it out. The cure is the discovery of our need for company – I mean company in the very special sense we’ve come to understand since we happened to know each other – you and I.
The pleasures of human experience are emptied away without that companionship – now that I’ve known it; without it joy is just an unendurable as sorrow. You are my life – my very life. Never imagine your hope approximates what you are to me. Beautiful, precious little baby – hurry up the sun! Make the days shorter till we meet.
I love you, that’s all there is to it.
Your boy, Orson
Orson Welles to Rita Hayworth
Can anyone forget that classic image of a platinum-haired immaculate Rita Hayworth stretched out on a yacht in The Lady from Shanghai or the room of mirrors scene at the end when Hayworth and Orson Welles dodge each other, trying to avoid being killed. In real-life, their relationship burned bright. The highly talented couple, Hayworth, one of the most beautiful women in the world, and Welles, hugely talented actor and director, were married on 7 September 1943. Their relationship lasted four years, during which Welles wrote several love letters to his wife, including the one above, which was one of a set, found stashed away in a secret compartment in Hayworth’s make-up case. They were auctioned at Christie’s LA in 2001, where they sold for a staggering $25,850.
To Mrs Arabella Hunt
–Not believe that I love you? You cannot pretend to be so incredulous. If you do not believe my tongue, consult my eyes, consult your own. You will find by yours that they have charms; by mine that i have a heart which feel them. Recall to mind what happened last night. That at least was a lover’s kiss. It’s eagerness, it’s fierceness, its warmth, expressed the God its parent. But oh! It’s sweetness, and it’s melting softness expressed him more. With trembling in my limbs, and fevers in my soul, I ravish’d it. Convulsions, panting, murmurings shew’d the mighty disorder within me: the mighty disorder increased by it. For those dear lips shot through my heart, and thro’ my bleeding vitals, delicious poison, and an avoidless but yet a charming ruin.
What cannot a day produce? The night before i thought myself a happy man, in want of nothing, and in fairest expectation of fortune; approved of by men of wit, and applauded by others. Please, nay charmed with my friends, my then dearest friends, sensible of every delicate pleasure, and in their turns possessing all.
But love, almighty love, seems in a moment to have removed me to a prodigious distence from every object but you alone. In the midst of crowds I remain in solitude. Nothing but you can lay hold of my mind, and that can lay hold of nothing but you. I appear transported to some foreign desert with you (oh, that I were really thus tranported!), where, abundantly supplied with everything, in thee, i might live out an age of uninterrupted ecstasy.
Then scene of the world’s great stage seems suddenly and sadly chang’d. unlovely objects are all around me, excepting thee; the charms of all the world appear to be translated to thee. Thus in this sad, but oh, too pleased statel! my soul can fix upon nothing but thee; thee it contemplates, admires, adores, nay depends on, trusts on you alone.
If you and hope forsake it, despair and endless misery attend it.”
William Congreve to Arabella Hunt
The dramatist William Congreve met and fell in love with Arabella Hunt, a celebrated beauty, musician and favourite of Queen Mary. Although the couple didn’t consummate the affair, this letter from Congreve is quite lovely. He also wrote her an irregular ode, ‘On Mrs Arabella Hunt singing.’
An interesting fact about Arabella is that she had been married briefly, in 1680, to James Howard, from whom she later got an annulment on the grounds that ‘he’ was, in fact, a cross-dressing ‘she’ called Amy Poulter. Arabella further claimed that Poulter was a hermaphrodite, although this was apparently later disproved when she proclaimed ‘anatomically a woman’ after an examination by five midwives.
I would have liked to have dined with you today, after finishing your essay – that my eyes, and lips, I do not exactly mean my voice, might have told you that they had raised you in my esteem. What a cold word! I would say love, if you will promise not to dispute about its propriety, when I want to express an increasing affection, founded on a more intimate acquaintance with your heart and understanding.
I shall cork up all my kindness – yet the fine volatile essence may fly off in my walk – you know not how much tenderness for you may escape in a voluptuous sigh, should the air, as is often the case, give a pleasurable movement to the sensations, that have been clustering round my heart, as I read this morning – reminding myself, every now and then, that the writer loved me.
Voluptuous is often expressive of a meaning I do not now intend to give, I would describe one of those moments, when the senses are exactly tuned by the ringing tenderness of the heart and according reason entices you to live in the present moment, regardless of the past or future – it is not rapture – it is sublime tranquility.
I have felt it in your arms – hush! Let not the light see, I was going to say hear it – these confessions should only be uttered – you know where, when the curtains are up – and all the world shut out – Ah me!
I wish I may find you at home when I carry this letter to drop it in the box, – that I may drop a kiss with it into your heart, to be embalmed, till me meet, closer.”
4 October 1796
Mary Wollstonecraft to William Godwin
Modern hero Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Men and A Vindication of the Rights of Women at the end of the 18th century (published anonymously in 1790 and 1792, respectively), during the Age of Englightenment. The Anglo-Irish feminist and writer was also the wife of philosopher William Godwin. She met Godwin, while recovering from her affair with writer Gilbert Imlay, the father her daughter, Fanny, and the man who had abandoned her. Wollstonecraft, subsequently, attempted to drown herself in the Thames.
Wollstonecraft and Godwin were close friends, before they embarked on a passionate affair in c1796. The couple married on 29 March 1797; however, their happiness was to be short-lived. Wollestonecraft died later the same year, 10 days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Godwin. Her daughter was to eclipse her mother in fame – certainly with popular audiences – as the author of Frankenstein and also the lover of the poet Shelley, with whom she eloped.
The above letter illustrates the depth of Wollstonecraft’s feelings for her ‘writer’ and also makes reference to their sexual passion.
Dear Miss Kaiser,
I am 34 (almost) years old, singel (again) and broke. I love you very much and would like to marry you very very soon.* I cannot promise to support us very well. — but if given the chance I will shure in hell try –
*soon means very soon.
What is the size of this finger??
as soon as I get to that hospital I will write “reams” well little ones.
Charles Eames’ handwritten proposal to Ray
Modernist industrial designers and husband-and-wife team Charles and Ray Eames are probably one of the most influential couples in design today. The Eames chair, in its various forms, is a popular classic. In 1941, Charles sent this charming handwritten love letter to Ray – who, of course, said ‘yes’. The rest, as they say, is history.
See also:Charles and Ray Eames’ Lounge Chair debut on Arlene Francis’s ‘Home’, NBC, 1955 – in two parts
My dearest boy,
This is to assure you of my immortal, my eternal love for you. Tomorrow all will be over. If prison and dishonour be my destiny, think that my love for you and this idea, this still more divine belief, that you love me in return will sustain me in my unhappiness and will make me capable, I hope, of bearing my grief most patiently. Since the hope, nay rather the certainty, of meeting you again in some world is the goal and the encouragement of my present life, ah! I must continue to live in this world because of that.…”
29 April 1895
Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas
Oscar Wilde met Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas in 1891, when the young man was 21. Wilde adored Bosie, who would become his literary muse and great love. Their affair was exciting, passionate and turbulent. It was also illegal. While Wilde went on to produce some of his best work during this period, he also attracted the unwanted attention of Bosie’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, who disapproved of his son’s relationship with the Irish writer. Wilde actually sued the Marquess for libel, but as a result of the details exposed about his own private life, Wilde found himself being prosecuted for committing gross indecency with members of his own sex. He was to suffer two very public and humiliating trials and this letter was written at the depths of his despair on the night before his final trial, at which he was sentenced to two years hard labour. On his release, Wilde left the country to live in France in exile, where he died destitute in 1900.
Please, please don’t be so depressed – We’ll be married soon, and then these lonesome nights will be over forever – and until we are, I am loving, loving every tiny minute of the day and night – Maybe you won’t understand this, but sometimes when I miss you most, it’s hardest to write – and you always know when I make myself – Just the ache of it all – and I can’t tell you. If we were together, you’d feel how strong it is – you’re so sweet when you’re melancholy. I love your sad tenderness – when I’ve hurt you – That’s one of the reasons I could never be sorry for our quarrels – and they bothered you so – Those dear, dear little fusses, when I always tried so hard to make you kiss and forget –
Scott – there’s nothing in all the world I want but you – and your precious love – All the material things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence – because you’d soon love me less – and less – and I’d do anything – anything – to keep your heart for my own – I don’t want to live – I want to love first, and live incidentally – Why don’t you feel that I’m waiting – I’ll come to you, Lover, when you’re ready – Don’t don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me – You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all – and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had —
How can you think deliberately of life without me – If you should die – O Darling – darling Scott – It’d be like going blind. I know I would, too – I’d have no purpose in life – just a pretty – decoration. Don’t you think I was made for you? I feel like you had me ordered – and I was delivered to you – to be worn – I want you to wear me, like a watch – charm or a button hole boquet – to the world. And then, when we’re alone, I want to help – to know that you can’t do anything without me.”
Zelda to F. Scott Fitzgerald
The love affair between Zelda Sayre and F. Scott Fitzgerald has been recounted time and time again in words and on film. The Fitzgeralds’ relationship epitomises the Jazz Age for many people – the glamour, the parties, the excesses. As a writer, Fitzgerald drew on their tempestuous relationship in his various novels and short stories.
Fitzgerland first met Zelda in the 1918 at a dance in Montgomery. He was immediately smitten, despite it being obvious that Zelda had several men pursuing her. Their love affair developed through an exchange of letters, many of which have been published in books. Although Zelda turned down Fitzgerald’s first proposal in 1919 – her parents disapproved of his lowly status as an impoverished writer – she later said ‘yes’ after Scribner agreed to publish Fitzgerald’s first book, This Side of Paradise.
Zelda joined Fitzgerald in New York and they married in April 1920. Alcoholism, mental illness, infidelity and bitter acrimony, for many years conducted for the most part against the beautiful, luxurious backdrop of southern France and Europe – caused great fissures in their relationship.
And yet, as this letter from Spring 1919 shows, Zelda did adore Fitzgerald.
Dearest I love you –
I am on my back – waiting to be spread wide apart – waiting for you – to die with the sense of you – the pleasure of you – the sensuousness of you touching the sensuousness of me –
…Dearest – my body is simply crazy with wanting you – If you don’t come tomorrow — I don’t see how I can wait for you — I wonder if your body wants mine the way mine wants yours — the kisses — the hotness — the wetness — all melting together — the being held so tight that it hurts — the strangle and the struggle.”
16 May 1922
Georgia O’Keeffe to Alfred Stieglitz
During the course of their 30-year relationship, influential painter Georgia O’Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz exchanged more than 5,000 letters, detailing the minutiae of their lives and also the passionate nature of their affair. The above letter, written by O’Keeffe at York Beach, Maine, in 1922, illustrates this beautifully as O’Keeffe goes from writing about breakfast, her pastels and the landscape to a vivid, sensual description of how her body craves his.
MY BELOVED ANGEL,
I am nearly mad about you, as much as one can be mad: I cannot bring together two ideas that you do not interpose yourself between them.
I can no longer think of nothing but you. In spite of myself, my imagination carries me to you. I grasp you, I kiss you, I caress you, a thousand of the most amorous caresses take possession of me.
As for my heart, there you will always be — very much so. I have a delicious sense of you there. But my God, what is to become of me, if you have deprived me of my reason? This is a monomania which, this morning, terrifies me.
I rise up every moment say to myself, ‘Come, I am going there!’ Then I sit down again, moved by the sense of my obligations. There is a frightful conflict. This is not a life. I have never before been like that. You have devoured everything.
I feel foolish and happy as soon as I let myself think of you. I whirl round in a delicious dream in which in one instant I live a thousand years. What a horrible situation!
Overcome with love, feeling love in every pore, living only for love, and seeing oneself consumed by griefs, and caught in a thousand spiders’ threads. O, my darling Eva, you did not know it. I picked up your card. It is there before me, and I talked to you as if you were here. I see you, as I did yesterday, beautiful, astonishingly beautiful.
Yesterday, during the whole evening, I said to myself ‘She is mine!’ Ah! The angels are not as happy in Paradise as I was yesterday!”
19 June 1836
Honoré de Balzac to Countess Evelina Hańska
Influential French writer Honoré de Balzac is best known for La Comédie Humaine, his masterpiece of realism, comprising a series of linked novels, novellas and short stories that portray Parisian and French provincial society during the Restoration and July monarchy. Balzac began writing them in 1831 and continued to do so over the next 20 years.
In 1833, Balzac began to correspond with a young countess, Ewelina Hańska. Although married at the time to a much-older Polish landowner, ‘Eva’, as Balzac called her, fell in love with the struggling writer, who at one time did live in a garret. Balzac and his Eva continued to write to each other for the next 17 years and the above letter shows the power of Balzac’s love for the countess.
When Eva’s husband died, the couple were finally able to marry on 15 March 1850. Sadly, Balzac died just five months later, in August of that year.
Victor Hugo delivered the eulogy to his great friend. Commenting on Balzac’s influence, he said: ‘Henceforth men’s eyes will be turned towards the faces not of those who are the rulers but of those who are the thinkers.’
Off you go again alone and its with a very heavy heart I part from you. No more kisses and tender caresses for ever so long — I want to bury myself in you, hold you tight in my arms, make you feel the intense love of mine.
You are my very life Sweetheart, and every separation gives such endless heartache…
Goodbye my Angel, Husband of my heart I envy my flowers that will accompany you. I press you tightly to my breast, kiss every sweet place with tender love…
God bless and protect you, guard you from all harm, guide you safely and firmly into the new year. May it bring glory and sure peace, and the reward for all this war has cost you.
I gently press my lips to yours and try to forget everything, gazing into your lovely eyes – I lay on your precious breast, rested my tired head upon it still. This morning I tried to gain calm and strength for the separation.
Goodbye wee one, Lovebird, Sunshine, Huzy mine, Own!”
30 December 1915
Tsarina Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was both the last Tsar of Russia and one of the last of the Romanovs. He is perhaps most remembered today for the extremely brutal circumstances in which he and his family were incarcerated and later murdered after the Russian Revolution.
An erudite, intelligent and articulate man, Nicholas was, none-the-less, sadly ill-equipped when he became Tsar, aged 26, in 1894. The task ahead was a daunting one, to unite a great, conflicted land, whose differing peoples were recovering from war, while also trying to deal with the pressures of a Russia straddling both the old world and the new.
Shortly after his accession, however, Nicholas realised his dream of marrying Princess Alix of Hesse (Queen Victoria’s granddaughter). She became ‘Alexandra Feodorovna’ after her conversion to the Russian Orthodox faith. The Romanovs were unusual in that they enjoyed the most novel of relationships, particularly amongst their fellow royalty, a ‘love’ marriage. In fact, they had reportedly fallen in love at their first meeting in 1884, at the wedding of Nicholas’s uncle, Grand Duke Sergei, to Alix’s sister, Elizabeth. Nicholas later wrote in his diary: ‘It is my dream to one day marry Alix H. I have loved her for a long time, but more deeply and strongly since 1889, when she spent six weeks in Petersburg. For a long time, I have resisted my feeling that my dearest dream will come true.’
Both before and after their marriage, Nicholas and Alexandra corresponded regularly. This letter, written in December 1915, shows the depth of Alexandra’s affection and passion for her husband. The couple remained devoted to each other until their deaths, along with those of their children, at the hands of Bolshevik soldiers, in 1918.
Wednesday Morng. [Kentish Town, 1820]
My Dearest Girl,
I have been a walk this morning with a book in my hand, but as usual I have been occupied with nothing but you: I wish I could say in an agreeable manner. I am tormented day and night. They talk of my going to Italy. ‘Tis certain I shall never recover if I am to be so long separate from you: yet with all this devotion to you I cannot persuade myself into any confidence of you….
You are to me an object intensely desirable — the air I breathe in a room empty of you in unhealthy. I am not the same to you — no — you can wait — you have a thousand activities — you can be happy without me. Any party, anything to fill up the day has been enough.
How have you pass’d this month? Who have you smil’d with? All this may seem savage in me. You do no feel as I do — you do not know what it is to love — one day you may — your time is not come….
I cannot live without you, and not only you but chaste you; virtuous you. The Sun rises and sets, the day passes, and you follow the bent of your inclination to a certain extent — you have no conception of the quantity of miserable feeling that passes through me in a day — Be serious! Love is not a plaything — and again do not write unless you can do it with a crystal conscience. I would sooner die for want of you than —
Yours for ever
John Keats to Fanny Brawne
Nineteenth-century English Romantic poet John Keats first met Fanny Brawne in November 1818, while she was living at Wentworth Place in London, the home of his friend Charles Brown. The couple grew close following the death of Tom, Keats’ beloved brother, of tuberculosis in December, when Fanny proved a supportive and loving friend. It was, thus, perhaps inevitable that the young man should fall in love with Fanny.
In October 1919 the couple became engaged secretly. Both Keats’ own peers and Fanny’s family disapproved of the relationship, the former through jealousy, the latter because of Keats’ dire financial situation. During this time, Keats wrote Fanny many letters, which were published, in 1878, long after his death.
In the winter of 1820, Keats was diagnosed with tuberculosis, the disease that had killed his brother and mother. His health began to decline rapidly and he was advised to move to Italy, where the climate was deemed better for his constitution. The above letter was written just before Keats left England and he expresses his dismay at being parted from Fanny, accusing her of not sharing his feelings and also failing to know what love is.
The Italian climate did not save John Keats’ life, however: he was not to recover and on 23 February 1821, at the extremely young age of 25, he died. When Keats was buried, an unopened letter from Fanny was reportedly entombed with him.
Their love story was made into an acclaimed film, Bright Star (2009), written and directed by the wonderful Jane Campion and starring Ben Whishaw as Keats and Abbie Cornish as Fanny.
See also: ‘Bright Star’ by John Keats, the poem he is believed to have written to Fanny
The way I thought was wrong, having not known, it was right. Here is the proof of my feelings, Don’t hate me, love me forever: —
Beautiful is the world, slow is one to take advantage. Wind up the world the other way. And at the start of the turning of the earth, lie my feelings for thou.
Shame on me.
I love you.”
Charlie Parker to Chan Parker
This undated letter was sent by legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker to his common-law-wife Chan Richardson (also known as Parker). Born Beverly Dolores Berg, a name she disliked, Chan changed it as soon as she was able. By the time she met Parker, in 1945, Chan’s unofficial title was ‘Queen of 52nd Street’, the place associated most wth jazz in the 1940s and 50s. Her extraordinary beauty, wit and intelligence meant that the 18-year-old Chan could have had her pick of men. In fact, when she met the 23-year-old Parker, she was already married, as was the musician. Despite this, their friendship quickly developed into love. Chan and her young daughter moved in with Parker in 1950. Ebony featured the couple on the cover of the magazine, a progressive act considering that they were an interracial couple at a time when society largely disapproved of the public expression of such love.
Parker’s own drug abuse and the very tragic death of the Parkers’ three-year-old daughter, Pree, in 1954, brought further strain to their relationship and they split up. A year later, Parker was dead, but this rather lovely letter shows the power of Parker’s love for his Chan.
Chan later wrote a memoir about her relationship with the great musician. She described Parker’s life as ‘a joyous thing. He lived it fully, loved his kids, music, movies. Simple things. Bird liked simple things. He was the strongest man I ever met in my life.’
Good morning, on 7 July
Even in bed my ideas yearn towards you, my Immortal Beloved, here and there joyfully, then again sadly, awaiting from Fate, whether it will listen to us. I can only live, either altogether with you or not at all. Yes, I have determined to wander about for so long far away, until I can fly into your arms and call myself quite at home with you, can send my soul enveloped by yours into the realm of spirits — yes, I regret, it must be. You will get over it all the more as you know my faithfulness to you; never another one can own my heart, never — never! O God, why must one go away from what one loves so, and yet my life in W. as it is now is a miserable life.
Your love made me the happiest and unhappiest at the same time. At my actual age I should need some continuity, sameness of life — can that exist under our circumstances? Angel, I just hear that the post goes out every day — and must close therefore, so that you get the L. at once. Be calm — love me — today — yesterday.
What longing in tears for you — You — my Life — my All — farewell. Oh, go on loving me — never doubt the faithfullest heart
Of your beloved
7 July 1812
Ludwig van Beethoven to his Immortal Beloved
Following the death of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, in March 1827, a handwritten love letter was found amongst his papers. Addressed to a mysterious ‘Immortal Beloved’, it comprised three parts (the above section is the third and last) and appears to have been written between 5 and 7 July 1812.
There has been a lot of speculation as to the identity of Beethoven’s paramour. For many people, Austrian noblewoman Antonie Bretano, the daughter of a diplomat, is the most likely candidate. The composer also dedicated the Diabelli Variations Op. 120 to Antonie.
My darling (my still) My husband.
I wish I could tell you of my love for you, of my fear, my delight, my pure animal pleasure of you – (with you) – my jealousy, my pride, my anger at you, at times. Most of all my love for you, and whatever love you can dole out to me – I wish I could write about it but I can’t.
I can only ‘boil and bubble’ inside and hope you understand how I really feel. Anyway I lust thee,
Your (still) Wife.
P.S. O’Love, let us never take each other for granted again!
P.P.S. How about that – 10 years!!”
15 March 1974, on their 10th anniversary
Elizabeth Taylor to Richard Burton
The tragic love story of Hollywood stars and cultural icons Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton has been immortalised in words, on film and most recently on TV in an excellent BBC drama, Burton and Taylor (2013), starring Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter in the title roles.
In about 1962, Taylor and Burton met on the film set of Cleopatra. Taylor was cast as the celebrated Egyptian ruler and Burton as her lover, Mark Antony. They were both married to other people at the time, but their attraction to each other proved too great to resist.
Taylor later said of their first meeting:
‘His hands were shaking and he had the worst hangover I’d ever seen … And he was obviously terrified of me. I just took pity on him and that was the beginning of our affair. He is a very sexy man, with the sort of jungle essence one can sense.’
Taylor and Burton’s subsequent very public and very heated affair led to a public outcry; it was even condemned by The Vatican, who stated that it threatened the ‘moral health of society’. The affair eventually led them to divorce their respective spouses and to marry in 1964.
This letter, written in March 1974, was discovered inside a book that had been left in a drawer under a bed in the California rental home the couple lived in while Burton was filming The Klansman. Just days later, however, Burton and Taylor separated, later divorcing, amidst accusations of infidelity, abuse and alcoholism.
They remarried a year later, only to divorce again.
Both Burton and Taylor repeatedly declared that the other had been the love of his/her life.
I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.
Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart. Are you angry? Do I see you sad? Are you worried? My soul breaks with grief, and there is no rest for your lover; but how much the more when I yield to this passion that rules me and drink a burning flame from your lips and your heart? Oh! This night has shown me that your portrait is not you!
You leave at midday; in three hours I shall see you.
Meanwhile, my sweet love, a thousand kisses; but do not give me any, for they set my blood on fire.
Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine
The love affair between Napoleon and Rose ‘Joséphine’ de Beauharnais (née Marie-Joséphe-Rose Tascher) has probably been retold as often as that of Lord Nelson’s and Emma Hamilton. Napoleon was a Major General in the French Army when he and Joséphine became lovers, in 1795. Until then, she had been known as ‘Rose’, but Napoleon referred to her as his ‘Joséphine’. The couple married a year later, in March 1796, two months after Napoleon proposed.
Napoleon had great plans for their future and on their marriage gave Joséphine a medallion inscribed with the words ‘to destiny’. He wrote many love letters to Joséphine while he was on campaign in Italy. His love only began to wane when Joséphine found solace in another man’s arms and he himself embarked on a series of affairs. The letters, however, stand the test of time.
MY MISTRESS & FRIEND,
my heart and I surrender ourselves into your hands, beseeching you to hold us commended to your favour, and that by absence your affection to us may not be lessened: for it were a great pity to increase our pain, of which absence produces enough and more than I could ever have thought could be felt, reminding us of a point in astronomy which is this: the longer the days are, the more distant is the sun, and nevertheless the hotter; so is it with our love, for by absence we are kept a distance from one another, and yet it retains its fervour, at least on my side; I hope the like on yours, assuring you that on my part the pain of absence is already too great for me; and when I think of the increase of that which I am forced to suffer, it would be almost intolerable, but for the firm hope I have of your unchangeable affection for me: and to remind you of this sometimes, and seeing that I cannot be personally present with you, I now send you the nearest thing I can to that, namely, my picture set in a bracelet, with the whole of the device, which you already know, wishing myself in their place, if it should please you.
This is from the hand of your loyal servant and friend,
c. August 1528
Henry VIII to his mistress Anne Boleyn
The relationship of English Tudor King, Henry VIII, with Anne Boleyn has been analysed, retold and reinterpreted in history, literature, film, plays and even in music. The love affair, which led to England’s break from Rome, divorce from Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon and the establishment of the Church of England, had long-reaching effects on English society, culture and religion.
Following his bitter divorce from Katherine, Henry married Anne Boleyn, but their marriage was fated to be an unhappy one – for the most part, full of intrigue and recrimination – although it did produce one of the most famous queens in history, Elizabeth I. Sadly, the love, which Henry declares so well in the series of letters written to Anne during their courtship, ended – and ended badly – in Anne’s imprisonment and execution.
The above letter, written in about August 1528, is my favourite from the many Henry wrote to Anne before their marriage: it shows Henry at the height of his infatuation with the lovely Anne.
… For 16 nights I have listened expectantly for the opening of my door, for the whispered ‘Lushka’ as you entered my room, and tonight I am alone. What shall I do? How can I sleep? … I don’t want to sleep, for fear of waking up, thinking you near by my side, and stretching out my arms to clasp — emptiness!
Mitya, do you remember this?
All that I know of love I learned of you,
And I know all that lovers can know,
Since passionately loving to be loved
The subtlety of your wise body moved
My senses to a curiosity
And your wise heart adorned itself for me.
Did you not teach me how to love you, how
To win you, how to suffer for you now
Since you have made, as long as life endures,
My very nerves, my very senses, yours?
I suffer for you now with that same skill
Of self-consuming ecstasy, whose thrill
(May Death some day the thought of it remove!)
You gathered form the very hands of Love.
… I think you now do realize that this can’t go on, that we must once and for all take our courage in both hands, and go away together. What sort of a life can we lead now? Yours, an infamous and degrading lie to the world, officially bound to someone you don’t care for, perpetually with that someone, that in itself constitutes an outrage to me, being constantly watched and questioned, watched to see if the expected reaction is not taking place, questioned to make quite sure there is no one else!
I, not caring a damn for anyone but you, utterly lost, miserably incomplete, condemned to leading a futile, purposeless existence, which no longer holds the smallest attraction for me…
A cheery picture, isn’t it? And you know how true it is. At all events, I implore you to run the H.N. [Harold Nicolson, Vita’s husband] fiction to death. It is the only thing that can save us, the only thing that will ensure peace for both of us.
En attendant, I think ‘there is a lot to be said for being (temporarily) dead’. Mitya, what stabs me like a knife is to remember you here in this room watching the last things being packed preparatory to going away with you, a fortnight ago. When I think of that and you waiting for me on the stairs, I feel quite faint from the pain of it all. My God, how exultant we were! And now, ‘la vie est devenue cendre dans son fruit’. [life now has ashes in the fruit.] There is nothing to look forward to, nothing.
I never thought I would (or could) love like this….”
22 July 1910
Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West
The love affair between writer Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis is well documented. Violet’s letters, so passionate, beautiful and raw, are often quoted, particularly in any good collection of letters. Vita’s correspondence with Violet was burned by Violet’s husband in a fit of rage and only Violet’s letters remain to show how passionate and all-consuming their relationship was.
Vita and Violet met when they were children and as they matured so did they attraction for each other. Although both women were naturally drawn to their own sex, both married – Vita, in 1913, to Harold Nicolson, Violet less happily to Denys Trefusis in 1919. Vita and Violet’s affair was at its height, from 1917 to 1920. This letter dates from 1910.
YOU will not believe what a longing for you possesses me. The chief cause of this is my love; and then we have not grown used to be apart.
So it comes to pass that I lie awake a great part of the night, thinking of you; and that by day, when the hours return at which I was wont to visit you, my feet take me, as it is so truly said, to your chamber, but not finding you there I return, sick and sad at heart, like an excluded lover.
The only time that is free from these torments is when I am being worn out at the bar, and in the suits of my friends. Judge you what must be my life when I find my repose in toil, my solace in wretchedness and anxiety.
Letter to Calpurnia, from Pliny the Younger (AD62?–cAD113), her husband
From Letters, Harvard Classics
Pliny the Younger was born cAD62 in what is modern-day Como, Italy. The nephew of Pliny the Elder, Pliny practiced law and came to be known for his skill and honesty and by the age of 39, he had reached the highest office of state, consul. By that time, he had also been married twice and both of his wives had died childless, a fact that saddened Pliny greatly. Thus, his marriage to 14-year-old Calpurnia came as no surprise to those who knew him. A young, nubile wife was more likely to be able to bear children. Calpurnia was everything Pliny wanted in a wife, but their desire to have children was sadly not realised. Pliny’s relationship with Calpurnia was, however, deep and long-lasting and, as the above letter shows, separation from her was painful.
Also of interest:Our Top 10 opening lines; Letters from the heart – our Top 20 love letters; I am half agony … The best love letter in literature
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Tags : Alfred Stieglitz, Anne Boleyn, Charlie Parker, Elizabeth Taylor, famous love letters, Fanny Brawne, Georgia O'Keeffe, Henry VIII, Honore de Balzac, Immortal Beloved, John Keats, Josephine, letters from the heart, literary romances, Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas, love letters, Ludwin van Beethoven, Napoleon, Oscar Wilde, Pliny the Younger, Richard Burton, same sex love, Tudor love letters, Violet Trefusis, Vita Sackville-West
Letter To My Husband. Dear Lovie, I wish I could express the love I have for you. Letter To My Husband: Marriage Is Worth The Fight · Letter To My Husband.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
These words, penned by Elizabeth Barrett in the mid-1800s to Robert Browning, still make me sigh. Oh, the depth and breadth of her love!
Yet how many of us carve out time today to write actual love letters?
Not just quick notes, e-mails, text messages, or Facebook entries … but longer, more developed expressions of love and devotion, captured forever in writing?
I asked some friends this very question.
All agreed: Life is sure busy in this high tech age. And many said they expressed affection to spouses through things like electronic messages and notes tucked into lunch boxes. Some leave little “sticky” love notes on computer screens. And of course, a husband or wife can always write “I love you” on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker.
Now, my friend Bryan is quite creative. He writes little messages of love to his wife on breakfast eggs (before cracking them). He also puts notes in his wife’s purse and sends text messages during the day. “We’re pretty sappy,” he says, “and ridiculous about it.”
Jayna and her husband write to each other on napkins whenever they pack a lunch for one another. “They’re very simple,” she says. “We usually say something like, ‘Have a great day. I can’t wait to see you tonight. I love you!’”
And when Wayne has to travel, he hides love notes all around the house for his wife. He’s especially proud of one creative way he expressed his devotion. “Once when I left early in the morning for a trip,” he says, “I left a sticky note on the toilet lid which read ‘I’ve flipped my lid over you!’—particularly poetic and heart-warming, I thought.”
All these are great ideas. But could there be an even better, more lasting way of expressing love?
Phyllis says it’s worth carving out time to write love letters, even when that time may be hard-pressed. She cherishes some letters her husband, Ken, wrote years ago. For example:
After 42 years of marriage, I am still learning how to affirm you. I want you to know that you mean all the world to me. As I think of the possibility that we might someday be separated due to death, it is hard to think of life without you. I appreciate your deep love for Jesus and your desire to live a godly life. I enjoy your creative expressions with the piano and creative memories. I am thankful for the way you love your children and grandchildren. You have such a giving heart for them.
I am glad that you want to spend time with me. You always tell me how much you miss me after we have been together on a trip. You speak well of me to others. You encourage me in my work, especially when I am discouraged. You urge me to serve the Lord in whatever way I can. …
Phyllis says she is very proud to be Ken’s wife.
Linda only wishes that she could have had more years with her beloved Corky. She seems too young to be a widow—raising a son alone. She knows firsthand that there is power in the pen.
Several years ago Corky said that he didn’t feel well, she says. “But he assured me that he’d be okay and went to lie down in the bedroom.”
A few short hours later, he slipped into eternity.
Although Corky was a quiet man, Linda says that he would write like a poet on special occasions, inside greeting cards. In one letter to her he wrote:
I watched you last night while you were sleeping and imagined I was dreaming. You are in my heart so deeply, so securely, that I can only imagine that if our treasures are in heaven that I am already there.
I know I don’t speak these things to you when I love you or when you’re cooking, cleaning, home from work and taking care of Adam and I, and you are a mess. But my love for you, your faithfulness, your giving yourself to me … is something that is spiritual. It can only be felt between two people who trust one another so much that they give themselves over to another person, trusting they will always, under all conditions, be taken care of forever.
I want to grow old with you. I want to complain of the grandchildren always being underfoot and not really meaning it. I want to watch your hair turn gray and your eyes looking at me like I was 25 again.
If I took my last breath today, I would have lived a lifetime.
… I will always watch over you and be with you. I love you now and forever.
Linda says Corky’s expressions of love are a treasure to her. “I read them every holiday. It’s like receiving love from him from beyond the grave.”
Over and over again, people who have lost a spouse shared with me the priceless value of love letters.
A love letter takes us back to a human touch … a warm embrace … to fingers entwined and hearts beating as one.
Although they come with no price tags, love letters are precious treasures. Legacies of devotion to be passed from one generation to the next. Tangible reminders that there is no greater gift than love.
© 2009 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
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