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If you wonder what you could write to your loved one, here’s inspiration from some Valentine’s Day quotes from love letters of famous women!
Throughout the year we are blessed with a million festivals to celebrate every occasion in life and more. But somehow our forefathers forgot to make one, just for Love. Thankfully St. Valentine fulfilled that wish, and our otherwise mundane February is painted red the whole month.
For a modern love, there are a million options to convey love in a matter of seconds. Thanks to our withering attention spans and need for instant gratification, message, videos, huge hearts, all sent electronically, have became the standard mode of conveying love, but in older times letters were all there was. And even today no matter how many options we have, a handwritten letter still holds an unquestionable charm.
On Valentine’s Day let’s look at some famous letters of love: some fulfilled, some unrequited, by some famous women around the world.
Image source: By Unknown – Public domain, Public Domain, Link and Painted by Evert A. Duyckinick, based on a drawing by George Richmond [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1842 Charlotte Bronte, famous author, moved to Brussels by herself to teach English and music, and fell madly in love with Constantin Heger, the school owner and French tutor.
Heger was a married man, and Bronte did do anything beyond sending him deep emotional letters to convey her love although from a distance. Heger did not respond to them, and perturbed, let his wife take over. Interestingly Madame Heger instructed Bronte to write at the most once in six months.
Fed up of the letters Heger tore up the letters but Madame fetched them from garbage and pinned them back together. Four decades later, Heger’s daughter submitted them to some publications to have these letters published and portray to the world, the complexity of Bronte’s character.
Perhaps you will say to me — “I no longer take the slightest interest in you Miss Charlotte — you no longer belong to my household — I have forgotten you.” Well Monsieur, tell me so candidly — it will be a shock to me — that doesn’t matter — it will still be less horrible than uncertainty.
Image source: YouTube
A love story from India that was poetic in every sense was that of Amrita Pritam and Imroz.
In a society that still looks down upon live-in relationships, Amrita Pritam was uninhibited not just in her writing, but in her life as well. She did not fear to share her vulnerabilities openly, and passionately expressed her love for him.
They lived together for almost 4 decades, facing a lot of opposition from various sections of the society. But despite all odds they were a passionate couple who were romantic as well as intellectually compatible. They had to pursue their respective careers through different cities, during which Amrita wrote letters to Imroz. These were later published in a book called Dastavez.
Garm ghoont ik tum bhi peena, garm ghoont ik main bhi pee lun
Umr ka grishma hamne bita diya, Umr ka shishir nahi beetata,
Aa saajan aaj baatein kar le!
Image source YouTube
When a love ends in marriage one expects that the love letters and the love life would be a rosy one. But Zelda and Scott’s married life was far from it.
Scott was lieutenant in WWI in Alabama. At a country club he met Zelda and instantly fell in love. After a few years of courtship, the two married in New York. What ensued next was a turbulent relationship filled with extreme ups and downs. F. Scott was rising to his genius as a writer, but also a raging alcoholic and womanizer. Zelda was struggling with physical and mental illness. Both grew apart and had tragic endings to their lives, but what really kept them together was their love. Despite many battles within the relationship their letters from their courtship symbolize true love, and one that was long lasting.
“I don’t want to live- I want to love first, and live…incidentally.”
Simone De Beauviour the French revolutionary feminist and author of ‘The Second Sex’ was a force to reckon with. Her literary work is a study in feminism, and enlightens us to understand the society and its view of women. Her extraordinary correspondence with her husband philosopher Jean Paul Sartre is study in itself, and gives us a detailed view of their relationship throughout their marriage, all during WWII when Sartre was in the army, and then a prisoner.
Although later they did have a tumultuous marriage which was famously open, and they both had liaisons with other partners, the letters, published later as Letters to Sartre, are a fine testament to understand the firebrand woman and her philosophy.
“I love you, with a touch of tragedy and quite madly.”
“But I miss you to the point of anguish.”
Image source: Sfgate
Hers was not an ordinary life. The Mexican contemporary artist was prolific not only in her art but in her battle with life as well. Crippled with multiple injuries at a young age as well as with polio, Frida’s life had become synonymous with pain.
Despite the physical constraints in her life, she was a hopeful romantic, and she did find immense love and romance in the painter and revolutionist, and her mentor Diego Rivera. Both had a 27 year long tumultuous relationship. Despite the in between pit stops, the relationship was passionate and committed. Kahlo had a string of affairs transcending continents and sexes (she was bisexual). But despite that, her relationship with Diego affected her the most. The letters she wrote to Diego were then published through her biography.
Diego, truth is so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak, or sleep, or listen, or love. To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood, outside time and magic, within your own fear, and your great anguish, and within the very beating of your heart. All this madness, if I asked it of you, I know, in your silence, there would be only confusion. I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you, you give me grace, your light and your warmth. I’d like to paint you, but there are no colors, because there are so many, in my confusion, the tangible form of my great love.
Image source here
The longest serving First Lady of United States was not just that but also an activist with a heart. She served various causes with utmost passion, and was a fierce champion of working women and underprivileged youth. She was perturbed by the loss of privacy that her position demanded, but that did not stop her from working for the causes she believed in.
Paradoxically Eleanor found solace and appreciation in her companionship with journalist Lorena Hickok whom she lovingly referred to as ‘Hick’. While their relationship remains under much speculation, it can’t be denied that it was a partnership of love and trust. Here’s an excerpt from Eleanor’s love letters to Hick.
“Hick my dearest– I cannot go to bed tonight without a word to you. I felt a little as though a part of me was leaving tonight. You have grown so much to be a part of my life that it is empty without you…”
Here’s a fun fact about Charles Darwin, the father of Evolution. He listed a point to point listicle of the pro/cons of marriage. I wish we all followed it just like his theory of evolution. But another not-so-fun fact about the legend is that he waited more than 20 years to publish his groundbreaking theory of evolution. Something that became the basis of all our scientific theories was in the making for a long time mainly due to his concern of being accepted as a theory.
During his struggle with getting published, his wife Emma was a constant pillar of support to him. She expressed these through her letters thirty years into their marriage. Her letter is a symbol of her commitment and support to her husband during his struggle and confusion to get accepted in the Science Academia.
I cannot tell you the compassion I have felt for all your sufferings for these weeks past that you have had so many drawbacks. Nor the gratitude I have felt for the cheerful & affectionate looks you have given me when I know you have been miserably uncomfortable.
A love affair always makes for great copy but unfortunately for the people involved it has often resulted in an end to careers, reputations, family lives. But in the case of author Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West, this was not so.
They met briefly in 1922 at a party and began an affair through letters, only to take it further with more passion. But surprisingly both their respective partners did not have any objection and their romance later bloomed into a long lasting friendship. Both were prolific writers in their own right, but of completely different upbringings. Their letters are a testament to their long lasting passion and love for each other. Here is an excerpt from one of their letters.
I’ve rarely taken such a fancy to anyone, and I think she likes me. At least, she asked me to Richmond where she lives. Darling, I have quite lost my heart. -Virginia Woolf
As a symphony to the above list comes the one with eternal love, the classic that is often held up and quoted as the example. Both Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning were well known poets of the Victorian Era and for the years to come, poets and fans of romance have celebrated and studied their letters to understand real love.
Elizabeth had a chronic illness in her late 30s, and during this she met her future husband Robert Browning. The couple wrote nearly 573 love letters and in secret, before they were legally wedded. It is through these letters that they grew closer and their romance was legendary to the point that they have been recently digitized on the occasion of Valentine’s Day. “If you want a perfect romance, just read the letters,” is a famous idiom that is sworn by, by the extended family of Browning’s who published these letters from Wellesley College. The couple later fled to London and Italy against her parents’ wishes, where Elizabeth’s health was said to have improved. Quoting her entire classic sonnet here.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Who wouldn’t pine for a love letter from the most beautiful woman, Marilyn Monroe? Well Joe DiMaggio the famous Yankees player was devoted to her for life, and their romance and love was what made for eternal love stories.
Having their fair share of ups and downs as a couple, what was most striking was how DiMaggio was devoted for her till the end, and cared and loved her even after her death. Here’s a snippet of Marilyn’s letter to Joe, portraying the classic romance.
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 be just where you are and be just what you want me to be. I know it’s lousy of me to be so late so often, and I promise to try a million times harder, I promise. Love, Marilyn
Image source here
Another bible of writing romantic letters comes from the famous painter Georgia O’Keefe, who in a span of 30 years exchanged over 5000 letters with her lover, photographer Alfred.
While her paintings always depicted simplicity, her letters were far from it. In fact she was extremely passionate and seductive as is seen from the letters, but if there was a world record for writing letters to your beloved I believe no one could’ve come close. Let’s take a look at a snippet from her humungous collection.
How much we have in common. — Traits. — Both turn everything we touch into something really living — & amusing — for ourselves. — Both can laugh — really laugh — even at our heartaches… 300 years you want to live!! — I wish I could give you that as a gift —
Some people are born into the screen characters. Just like Superman Christopher Reeve, who was the original and much loved actor who played Superman in 1978. Due to a serious accident in 1995 he was a quadriplegic for the rest of his life until 2004.
He found love and support from millions of fans all over the world, but what kept him going was the solid support from his wife Dana Reeve. Her letter from their fourth wedding anniversary in 1996, just a year after his accident, is testament to their solid relationship. It is a symbol of true love, and companionship that is transcends years beyond life.
My darling Toph,
This path we are on is unpredictable, mysterious, profoundly challenging, and, yes, even fulfilling. It is a path we chose to embark on together and for all the brambles and obstructions that have come our way of late, I have no regrets. In fact, all of our difficulties have shown me how deeply I love you and how grateful I am that we can follow this path together. Our future will be bright, my darling one, because we have each other and our young ‘uns.
With all my heart and soul I love you,
Let us all take moment here and celebrate love in all its forms, and remember these extraordinary women for their words, and for inspiring us to express ourselves in the matters of the heart.
Image source: pixabay
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I am the quintessential ya-ya girl, but also the silent rebel. I love fiction,
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