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Love Letters of Famous Couples

Let these smitten scribes inspire your own Valentine's note, and read to the bottom for tips on writing love letters of your own.

Love Letters of Famous Couples

From Napoleon Bonaparte to Joséphine de Beauharnais
I don't love you, not at all; on the contrary, I detest you. You're a naughty, gawky, foolish Cinderella. You never write me; you don't love your own husband; you know what pleasures your letters give him, and yet you haven't written him six lines. Of what sort can be that marvellous being, that new lover that tyrannises over your days and prevents your giving any attention to your husband? Some fine night, the doors will be broken open, and there I'll be.
[November 1796]

From Johnny Cash to June Carter Cash
Hey June, The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don't go out there and sing anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.
Love, John

From Marilyn Monroe to Joe DiMaggio
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 it's lousy of me to be so late so often, and I promise to try a million times harder, I promise.
Love, Marilyn [1954]

From John Keats to Fanny Brawne
My dearest girl, I cannot exist without you I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again – my life seems to stop there – I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving – I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? Love is my religion – I could die for that – I could die for you.
Yours forever, John Keats [October 13, 1819]

From: Richard Nixon
To: Pat Nixon
Dearest Heart,
... And when the wind blows and the rains fall and the sun shines through the clouds (as it is now) he still resolves, as he did then, that nothing so fine ever happened to him or anyone else as falling in love with Thee – my dearest heart.
Love, Dick

HOW TO WRITE (AND READ) A LOVE LETTER

Bring some good old-fashioned passion and romance into your life. One man's advice for composing the perfect declaration of your feelings
By Tom Chiarella in Esquire

 

A long time ago, when I was staying in my favourite apartment behind a patch of bamboos in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I wrote my first love letter. It was a liquid hot afternoon, and I was sitting on my screened verandah, enjoying my boredom, thinking that I was full up with the very thought of her. I drew a pretty cool heart on a piece of newsprint, rolled that into a manual typewriter, and then pecked out about 15 sentences. I took more than an hour. I had to. I couldn't edit, and I couldn't use Wite-Out. It worked, too. That woman was happy. So happy that she stuck it on the door of her fridge, where it clung to a magnet-laden collage of birthday cards, Easter cards, thinking-of-you cards. This irked me. "It's a love letter," I told her. "It's only for you. You're supposed to save it. It's supposed to be folded up in a book somewhere." She didn't get it. She treated it like a card. When it comes to writing a love letter, remember: it's not a card. It's a letter.

First, sit. Letters take time. Letters have a rhythm. Letters must be written, and writing takes a while. Three lines can't do the work of three paragraphs. This is not to say your letter must be long. Three paragraphs can do the work of three pages. Just give them some time.

Be loyal to the past you share. If your love began on a kayak trip, then don't just mention that experience – recreate it. Let the river become your palette. Tell a story that only the two of you know. Or narrate a moment in which she was unaware that you were watching her. Use detail to show what you remember and that you remember.

Let the example precede sentiment. A good love letter declares itself plainly, then illustrates particularly. "I saw you watching the men play chess in the park. So quiet. I love the way you look at things." So first show her what you love in her before you tell her what you love in her. Show, then tell.

Don't repeat yourself. Emotional declarations matter more if you space them a little. Even in a short letter, you must create room. With love, there's value in scarcity. That's why it feels like such a jackpot.

Most of all, remember that it's private. Say something that surprises you about yourself. Let her know that she is redefining your terms. In this way most, a love letter is like love itself. There must be risk.



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