Writing a love letter is one of the most romantic things you can do. Learn some great love letter tips and ideas to get you started.
Somewhere in my childhood bedroom lurks an old Nine West shoe box brimming with love letters scrawled on craggy college-ruled paper. In high school, when my interest in the day’s physics or math lesson would inevitably wane, I’d turn the page in my notebook and write my then boyfriend hormone-fueled rants about my unparalleled love for him, and occasionally, in what may be a Joycean hallmark (minus the farts, see #11), the things I wanted to do with him. We traded these missives back and forth at our lockers, which amounted to hundreds of inside-joke riddled professions of young love.
Once, to our mutual horror, my dad found a stray note while cleaning out the trunk of his car. That day, I learned an important lesson about privacy and secure backpack zippers. But after a mortifying conversation, I emerged with the upper-hand, admonishing him for having the audacity to read a letter so obviously not for him. Polite company (excluding dads) know better than to read others’ private exchanges.
In literature, we are offered a rare, perhaps singular invitation into such intimate correspondences. Whether the following love letters are artfully penned in a novel, memoir, or the anthologies of long-dead greats — these 11 vulnerable glimpses into the besotted human-id are all-consuming reads.
The reconciliation letter
When I polled friends and coworkers about this assignment, for good reason, the prevailing response fell along the lines of: “Include Persuasion, duh.”
In Jane Austen’s final, posthumously published novel, Persuasion, the heroine Anne Elliot was convinced (or some would say, persuaded) by her godmother, Lady Russell, to call off her teenage engagement to the impecunious Frederick Wentworth. Fast-forward almost a decade later, and the two reconnect via the typical Austen scaffolding of events, and it’s revealed that they’ve never truly forgotten each other.
After overhearing a conversation in which Anne argues that men move on more swiftly from their past loves, Wentworth counters her claim with one of the most highly regarded love notes in all of literature:
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
The Love-dumb Husband Letter
In 2014, Knopf published a meticulously annotated compilation of 50+ years of correspondence between Vladimir Nabakov and his beloved wife, Vera. Although the couple had their share of obstacles (infidelity, to name one), the letters demonstrate an abiding love capable of overcoming even the most treacherous of threats (Nazi persecution, another).
In an uncharacteristic moment, Nabokov found himself at a loss of words while trying to articulate just how much he adored his wife:
My tenderness, my happiness, what words can I write for you? How strange that although my life’s work is moving a pen over paper, I don’t know how to tell you how I love, how I desire you. Such agitation — and such divine peace: melting clouds immersed in sunshine — mounds of happiness. And I am floating with you, in you, aflame and melting — and a whole life with you is like the movement of clouds, their airy, quiet falls, their lightness and smoothness, and the heavenly variety of outline and tint — my inexplicable love. I cannot express these cirrus-cumulus sensations.
The Final Words Letter
Before the English patient sustained the burn-injuries that rendered him amnesic in an Italian hospital, he was an explorer in the Sahara Desert who fell in with another man’s wife, Katharine. At the heart of Michael Ondaatje historiographic metafiction masterpiece is this torrid affair, which ends in high melodrama when Katharine’s husband, Geoffrey, attempts a three-way murder-suicide. The English patient and Katharine survive, and find shelter in a cave. When the English patient leaves to seek help, Katharine writes him a final goodbye as she withers away in the cold, echoing darkness.
The 1992 Booker Award-winning novel was adapted for the silver-screen — watch the tearjerking performance accompanied by a tasteful amount of sad-piano below:
The Desperate Adulteress
Say what you will about the morality of affairs, but damn do they inspire some impassioned writing. Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf began a covert-ish relationship in the mid 1920’s, and IMHO, the world is better for it because it inspired Woolf’s satirical, gender-bending novel, Orlando. The collection of these lovers’ letters are evidence that she had superb material to work from.
Here’s a selection pulled from the Paris Review:
From Sackville-West to Woolf
Milan [posted in Trieste]
Thursday, January 21, 1926
I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this — But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it …
Please forgive me for writing such a miserable letter.
The Love is a Battlefield Letter
In Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 French epistolary novel, the principle characters Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont are arch nemesis’ and ex-lovers who wield their inimitable letter writing skills as weapons of manipulation. The book is comprised solely of letters written back and forth between various characters.
The Fifty-year Correspondence
Love in the Time of Cholera follows the diverging lives of childhood sweethearts Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. Florentino first catches a glimpse of Fermina when he delivers a telegraph to her father, and from there it’s fated that the young postal worker and beautiful girl should start their own passionate correspondence. He goes home and toils over a letter, which soon transforms into a sixty-page “dictionary of compliments” declaring his admiration for her. After he hands her the tome, he waits for what feels like an eternity for an answer, but it turns out she’s mutually smitten, and just really needed the time to wade through the heavy metaphors. They begin an intense exchange of hundreds of love letters, which infuriates Fermina’s father. Life gets in the way and sends the adolescent lovebirds down different paths, but Florentino claims to have remained faithful to Fermina throughout his entire life, and he makes a final (and successful) proclamation of his love at her husband’s funeral five decades later.
The This-is-Why-You-Should-Say-It-In-Person Letter
The plot of Atonement is set into motion by a horribly misconstrued letter that lands Robbie in jail and leaves his secret girlfriend Cecilia hopelessly wishing for his exoneration. Since Robbie is imprisoned, the only way the couple can communicate is through a series of letters. Robbie is eventually released on the condition that he serve in the army during World War II. Perhaps the most devastating missive comes from Cecelia during this time when she writes:
…I know I sound bitter, but my darling, I don’t want to be. I’m honestly happy with my new life and my new friends. I feel I can breathe now. Most of all, I have you to live for. Realistically, there had to be a choice — you or them. How could it be both? I’ve never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one, my reason for life. Cee
The You-Complete-Me Letter
He may not be the titular character, but Levin’s development into a happier, less solipsistic guy is just as integral to the classic’s plot as Anna Karenina’s untimely demise. In Part IV, Chapter XIII, Levin takes another go at courting the object of his affection, Kitty. He’s always had trouble communicating his feelings, but Kitty’s innate understanding of him makes it easier. The two sit down at a card table and Kitty produces a stick of chalk, and they start a game of scribbling the first letter of every word in a sentence they wish to say.
Levin jots down: “W, y, a: i, c, n, b; d,y, t, o, n?”
Kitty responds: “T, I, c, n, a, o.”
Did ya get all that? Doesn’t matter because “everything had been said in that conversation. She had said that she loved him.”
The Grieving Letter
Isabel Allende never intended to write a memoir. She started what became Paula as an informational letter to her daughter to summarize the events she was missing as she lay asleep in a porphyria-induced coma. To the heartbreak of Isabel and her family, Paula never recovered, but she continued writing her letter which blends with some of the classic elements of magical realist fiction.
The High Brow Affair Letters
Anaïs once wrote to Henry, “We are writers and make art of our struggle,” — that statement became truer than ever when Gunther Stuhlman published a compilation of their missives. The writers only spent a short amount of time with each other in the early ’30s, but carried on a love letter exchange for 21-years! Here’s one of my favorite passages from Miller to Nin:
I say this is a wild dream — but it is this dream I want to realize. Life and literature combined, love the dynamo, you with your chameleon’s soul giving me a thousand loves, being anchored always in no matter what storm, home wherever we are. In the mornings, continuing where we left off. Resurrection after resurrection. You asserting yourself, getting the rich varied life you desire; and the more you assert yourself the more you want me, need me. Your voice getting hoarser, deeper, your eyes blacker, your blood thicker, your body fuller. A voluptuous servility and tyrannical necessity. More cruel now than before — consciously, wilfully cruel. The insatiable delight of experience.
The Granddaddy of the Filthy (Fart!) Sext
Save your eggplant emoji for the playground, kids, because James Joyce is about to blow you away with the kinky letter he wrote his wife Nora.
You know it’s real when you can’t get enough of your lover’s ~scent~
**WARNING: VERY NSFW**
My sweet little whorish Nora I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter. I am delighted to see that you do like being fucked arseways. Yes, now I can remember that night when I fucked you for so long backwards. It was the dirtiest fucking I ever gave you, darling. My prick was stuck in you for hours, fucking in and out under your upturned rump. I felt your fat sweaty buttocks under my belly and saw your flushed face and mad eyes. At every fuck I gave you your shameless tongue came bursting out through your lips and if a gave you a bigger stronger fuck than usual, fat dirty farts came spluttering out of your backside. You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I fucked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to fuck a farting woman when every fuck drives one out of her. I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have. It is sudden and dry and dirty like what a bold girl would let off in fun in a school dormitory at night. I hope Nora will let off no end of her farts in my face so that I may know their smell also.
Somewhere in my childhood bedroom lurks an old Nine West shoe box brimming with love letters scrawled on craggy college-ruled paper.
4. Georgia O'Keeffe to Alfred Stieglitz
Another artist who excelled at writing spicy love letters: famed painter, Georgia O'Keeffe. Over the course of her 30-year romance with celebrated photographer Alfred Stieglitz, O'Keeffe exchanged more than 5,000 letters (that's roughly 25,000 pages) on everything from the mundane ongoings of her daily life to some of her more passionate encounters with Stieglitz. In all, the letters show a far more seductive side to the artist than her flowery paintings may initially suggest.
"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."
5. Beethoven to his "Immortal Beloved"
While the identity of Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” to whom the iconic composer and pianist wrote a number of letters in 1812, is still largely a mystery, the letters themselves paint a very vivid picture. Many historians believe Beethoven's "Beloved" to have been a diplomat’s daughter, named Antonie Brentano, to whom the composer dedicated his "Diabelli Variations Op. 120." In one of his letters found after his death, he famously wrote:
"Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, Be calm-love me-today-yesterday-what tearful longings for you-you-you-my life-my all-farewell. Oh continue to love me-never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved. Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours."
6. George H. Bush to Barbara Bush
Perhaps one of the most romantic love letters of all time was written by late U.S. President George H. Bush to his wife, Barbara. In 1942, on the heels of World War II, Bush enlisted in the Navy, and while stationed overseas, wrote letters to both his parents and then-girlfriend, Barbara Pierce of Rye, New York. To this day, only one love letter to Barbara remains from the former president's time overseas, as Barbara reportedly lost the majority of her letters in a move after the pair were married. In the surviving letter, Bush joyfully explains how he envisions the couple's future, and describes how "lucky" their future children will be.
"This should be a very easy letter to write — words should come easily and in short it should be simple for me to tell you how desperately happy I was to open the paper and see the announcement of our engagement, but somehow I can't possibly say all in a letter I should like to. I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours some day. How lucky our children will be to have a mother like you..."
7. Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan
Another former politician whose romantic writings are worth mentioning: 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. In a letter to his wife, Nancy, in 1972, prior to their 20th anniversary, Reagan (who, at the time and prior to his presidency, was serving as the Governor of California) penned a romantic note to his wife expressing his undying love for her, and explaining that he never wants to leave her side.
"The important thing is I don't want to be without you for the next 20 years, or 40, or however many there are. I've gotten very used to being happy and I love you very much indeed."
So pay attention to your words. Remember, it’s “scent,” not “odor.” Your beloved doesn’t “smell” good; her “fragrance” is enchanting.
If you find yourself stuck, begin with a quotation. Shakespeare is a safe bet, especially his Twelfth Night, in which one woman, disguised as a man, woos another woman on behalf of the actual man the first woman secretly loves. Yes, it's complicated, but you can learn from the Bard’s play how a woman might woo if she were a man—an invaluable lesson in imagining what the object of your affections wants to hear.
And, even if you have a knack for them, no pornographic drawings.
Ulysses S. Grant peppered his love letters to Julia Dent with blank spaces, which, he was forced to explain to the baffled lady, were an attempt to suggest feelings that words could never express. It worked for Grant, who married Miss Dent after four years of courtship. It might work for you.
Use metaphor, not euphemism. If you don’t know what a metaphor is, rent Il Postino. In the film, the exiled poet Pablo Neruda explains the concept to his postman, and the metaphors invented by Mario, the tongue-tied mailman, win the heart of his gorgeous Beatrice.
Neruda's own poetry is also an invaluable trove. His book Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair is full of examples (and its final song may prove of comfort if your letter fails).
A few rules apply. No cute goofiness. No financial metaphors, particularly employing the conceit of what an excellent investment your lover is. Food is a good choice, but be careful. Fashionable vegetables may be all the rage at that little bistro where you take your beloved after a film like Il Postino, but a fiddlehead fern may be more attractive on the plate than on the page.
If your lover is female, you can compare her to a flower. Jorge Luis Borges, always intrigued by labyrinths, reminds us that one of the immortal metaphors of poetry pairs a woman with a flower. You should realize, though, that roses (and oysters, for that matter) are associated with love in part because of their physical resemblance to a particular part of a the female anatomy. When Bobby Burns sings, “O, my luve’s like a red, red rose,” he’s speaking literally as well as figuratively. So consider carefully all the implications of the metaphors you strew.
Fernando Pessoa, the great Portuguese poet, insists that immortality depends upon the grammarians. He knows what he’s talking about.
Consider the case of Confederate officer William F. Testerman, for example, who penned these concluding sentences to his beloved: “Direct your letters as before and dont forget your best friend so I will end my few lines but my love to you has no End remember me as ever your love and friend. Excuse bad riting.” Perhaps Miss Jane Davis, to whom the soldier's letter was addressed, forgave his prose. He did, after all, write from the battlefield. But you, in composing your love letter, seek to make eloquent those reasons of the heart most resistant to glib formulation. “Bad riting” won't ease your task.
15 Famous Love Letters That Will Make You A Romantic. And srsly improve your texts to bae. Posted on February 14, , at a.m.. Maitland Quitmeyer.
Thank you Aaditya Patel for A2A
A cute love letter to my son
It was the time I was going through many horrible and miserable things in my life, I asked God “what is the purpose of my existence”.
On July 12, 2011, I confirmed the existence of a beautiful soul inside me. I wonder God made me to survive the abuses for the sake of you. I promised myself to be stronger better than the past.
I started to experience the best moments in my life with you. Initially, I had severe mood swings, constant puking, dizziness. and weight loss. After a couple of months, everything became normal. I consumed healthy foods and fruits everyday. You started to gain weight and grow healthy inside me. I am happy with your growth.
I enjoyed your kicks on my tummy when I forgot to take food on time. It was like an alarm to me.
My baby shower function was held at 19.02.2012. Our relatives blessed us. On February 28, I went for a checkup. Doctor felt that your movement is getting down due to the loss of amniotic fluid. I worried about your health.
I have to decide quickly to save you, within a short time span. I pleaded the doctor that you should be the top priority, if there is any risk and entered into the operation theater.
Being too nervous, my blood pressure started to rise. The doctors calmed me down. Had an injection in my spine. I started to felt numb below the waist. I can feel the incision, tripping of blood, taking out of you and sutures. The doctors said “Congrats Ramya, it is a boy born at 5.41 PM”. I raised my thumbs.
I shed happy tears on hearing your cry. As my eyes are covered, I couldn’t see you. They took you from there to bath and handed over to your grandma.
I was shifted to the ward after sometime. I was waiting eagerly to see your face. Finally, I saw you after one hour. I could not able to raise my body from bed. I raised my head and just kissed your nose. You are a cry baby.
I missed my sleep and comfort level everything for you. 30 days after your birth, I named you as “Susruthan” in Meenakshi Amman temple.
I worried and panicked a lot when you feel ill. Every time you get vaccines, I will close my eyes with fear. I cried a lot when you are in pain. I have faced so worst things in my life. You are my soul support and the reason for my existence.
I cherish the moment you held my finger, I hold you so carefully wrapped inside the baby blanket and feed you. I felt blessed when you called me as “amma” for the first time. The day you crawled, walked and spoke are the best memorable moments in my life. Your first birthday celebrations with our neighbors and relatives is my most favorite.
I remember the wordings I wrote in the birthday cake for you
March 04, 2015
The day I admitted you in pre-school. I still wonder you gracefully hold the finger of Kiruthika mam, said bye to me and went inside the classroom without throwing any tantrums. I left you in the school and went to court for the final hearing. The day I decided to back off from your dad. I was asked to sign in the divorce papers by the next day. Everything was over by March 05, 2015.
I promised myself to play the roles of both father and mother and live for you lifelong. I signed and came back from the court.
Then, you moved to L.K.G. You are too stubborn and an angry kid. Once, you got bitten by Diya. You have beaten “Jeeva mam” once. She complained me. I made you to understand your behavior. You became a too cool kid and no more complaints thereafter.
You danced well in the Annual day function. You are too good in drawing and crafts. You love travelling a lot. You are too active and stubborn for the toys and snacks. Sometimes, you annoy me too much and got beaten.
You are still a clandestine to me. I trick you with cute lies in the name of Santa Claus and ShahRukh Khan. You are my motivation. I loved your funny dances, acts and songs for me.
We have a still long way to go dear. Let’s enjoy together.
By your dear Amma
(Sorry for the long letter!)
Thank you for reading
Thank you so much Aaditya Patel for this lovely A2A!
All the missives above come from Letters of Note, editor Shaun Usher's excellent blog of “fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and.