Love letters or Billet-doux (from the French billet meaning “note” and doux meaning “sweet”) are the most loving and precious possession of a person who is in love on the one hand and the object of curiosity and interest of many on the other hand. They are the asset of a life time whether the persons in love are still in contact or not. In the present day hand written letters have replaced emails but still the value of hand written letters and their lively presence and power of recreating the moment is invaluable.
Here I am going to present before you a collection of 10 unique love letters written by some of the illustrious people in history. Let’s go back to the old times and feel the love and emotions associated with these letters. I am sure many of you will be able to relate to them and be transported to your own world of fantasy.
Apart from being a military warrior Napoleon Bonaparte (1763 – 1821) was an excellent writer of letters. This letter was written to his beautiful wife Josephine before their marriage in 1796.
Paris, December 1795
I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?… My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!
You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.
Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the great composer’s love letter was discovered after his death addressed to a mysterious woman who Beethoven called “Immortal Beloved”
July 6, 1806
My angel, my all, my very self — only a few words today and at that with your pencil — not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon — what a useless waste of time. Why this deep sorrow where necessity speaks — can our love endure except through sacrifices — except through not demanding everything — can you change it that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine?
Oh, God! look out into the beauties of nature and comfort yourself with that which must be — love demands everything and that very justly — that it is with me so far as you are concerned, and you with
me. If we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I!
Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other; moreover, I cannot communicate to you the observations I have made during the last few days touching my own life — if our hearts were always close together I would make none of the kind. My heart is full of many things to say to you – Ah! — there are moments when I feel that speech is nothing after all — cheer up — remain my true, only treasure, my all as I am yours; the gods must send us the rest that which shall be best for us.
Now I present before you the letter written by Lewis Carol or Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, an English author, mathematician and photographer of the Victorian era.
Christ Church, Oxford, October 28, 1876
My Dearest Gertrude:
You will be sorry, and surprised, and puzzled, to hear what a queer illness I have had ever since you went. I sent for the doctor, and said, “Give me some medicine. for I’m tired.” He said, “Nonsense and stuff! You don’t want medicine: go to bed!”
I said, “No; it isn’t the sort of tiredness that wants bed. I’m tired in the face.” He looked a little grave, and said, “Oh, it’s your nose that’s tired: a person often talks too much when he thinks he knows a
great deal.” I said, “No, it isn’t the nose. Perhaps it’s the hair.” Then he looked rather grave, and said, “Now I understand: you’ve been playing too many hairs on the pianoforte.”
“No, indeed I haven’t!” I said, “and it isn’t exactly the hair: it’s more about the nose and chin.” Then he looked a good deal graver, and said, “Have you been walking much on your chin lately?” I said, “No.” “Well!” he said, “it puzzles me very much.
Do you think it’s in the lips?” “Of course!” I said. “That’s exactly what it is!”
Then he looked very grave indeed, and said, “I think you must have been giving too many kisses.” “Well,” I said, “I did give one kiss to a baby child, a little friend of mine.”
“Think again,” he said; “are you sure it was only one?” I thought again, and said, “Perhaps it was eleven times.” Then the doctor said, “You must not give her any more till your lips are quite rested
again.” “But what am I to do?” I said, “because you see, I owe her a hundred and eighty-two more.” Then he looked so grave that tears ran down his cheeks, and he said, “You may send them to her in a box.”
Then I remembered a little box that I once bought at Dover, and thought I would someday give it to some little girl or other. So I have packed them all in it very carefully. Tell me if they come safe or if any are lost on the way.”
Voltaire (1694-1778), French author and philosopher wrote the following love letter to Olympe Dunover . The relationship between them was not approved and Voltair was even jailed for this.
The Hague 1713
I am a prisoner here in the name of the King; they can take my life, but not the love that I feel for you. Yes, my adorable mistress, to-night I shall see you, and if I had to put my head on the block to do it.
For heaven’s sake, do not speak to me in such disastrous terms as you write; you must live and be cautious; beware of madame your mother as of your worst enemy. What do I say? Beware of everybody; trust no one; keep yourself in readiness, as soon as the moon is visible; I shall leave the hotel incognito, take a carriage or a chaise, we shall drive like the wind to Sheveningen; I shall take paper and ink with me; we shall write our letters.
If you love me, reassure yourself; and call all your strength and presence of mind to your aid; do not let your mother notice anything, try to have your pictures, and be assured that the menace of the greatest tortures will not prevent me to serve you. No, nothing has the power to part me from you; our love is based upon virtue, and will last as long as our lives. Adieu, there is nothing that I will not brave for your sake; you deserve much more than that. Adieu, my dear heart!
This letter was written by Charlotte Bronte, English writer, to Professor Constantin Heger.
January 8, 1845
Monsieur, the poor have not need of much to sustain them — they ask only for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table. But if they are refused the crumbs they die of hunger. Nor do I, either, need much affection from those I love. I should not know what to do with a friendship entire and complete – I am not used to it. But you showed me of yore a little interest, when I was your pupil in Brussels, and I hold on to the maintenance of that little interest — I hold on to it as I would hold on to life.
The following letter was written by Lord Byron (1788 – 1824) ,a well known English poet who was also known to be an infamous womanizer. This letter was written to Lady Caroline Lamb.
My dearest Caroline,
If tears, which you saw & know I am not apt to shed, if the agitation in which I parted from you, agitation which you must have perceived through the whole of this most nervous nervous affair, did not commence till the moment of leaving you approached, if all that I have said & done, & am still but too ready to say & do, have not sufficiently proved what my real feelings are & must be ever towards you, my love, I have no other proof to offer.
God knows I wish you happy, & when I quit you, or rather when you from a sense of duty to your husband & mother quit me, you shall acknowledge the truth of what I again promise & vow, that no other in word or deed shall ever hold the place in my affection which is & shall be most sacred to you, till I am nothing.
I never knew till that moment, the madness of — my dearest & most beloved friend — I cannot express myself — this is no time for words — but I shall have a pride, a melancholy pleasure, in suffering what you yourself can hardly conceive — for you don not know me. — I am now about to go out with a heavy heart, because — my appearing this Evening will stop any absurd story which the events of today might give rise to — do you think now that I am cold & stern, & artful — will even others think so, will your mother even — that mother to whom we must indeed sacrifice much, more much more on my part, than she shall ever know or can imagine.
“Promises not to love you” ah Caroline it is past promising — but shall attribute all concessions to the proper motive — & never cease to feel all that you have already witnessed — & more than can ever be known but to my own heart — perhaps to yours — May God protect forgive & bless you — ever & even more than ever.
yr. most attached
P.S. — These taunts which have driven you to this — my dearest Caroline — were it not for your mother & the kindness of all your connections, is there anything on earth or heaven would have made me so happy as to have made you mine long ago? & not less now than then, but more than ever at this time — you know I would with pleasure give up all here & all beyond the grave for you — & in refraining from this — must my motives be misunderstood –? I care not who knows this — what use is made of it — it is you & to you only that they owe yourself, I was and am yours, freely & most entirely, to obey, to honour, love –& fly with you when, where, & how you yourself might & may determine .
Here comes the letter of Winston Churchill, the British politician and Prime Minister, written to his wife.
January 23, 1935
My darling Clemmie,
In your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about my having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love…. What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship no phrases can convey.
Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and to millions tragic and terrible
Your loving husband
At the age of 23 John Keats, the renowned English poet fell in love with Fanny Brawne . But as he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis their marriage could not take place . In those days Tuberculosis was not curable and it is heard that Fanny Brawne left her soon after she came to know that he was suffering from T.B .This is the letter which was written by Keats to her.
To Fanny Brawne:
I cannot exist without you – I am forgetful of every thing 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 were dissolving ….I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion - I have shudder’d at it – I shudder no more – I could be
martyr’d for my religion – love is my religion – I could die for that – I could die for you. My creed is love and you are its only tenet – you have ravish’d me away by a power I cannot resist.
– John Keats
This is an interesting love letter by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) ,a famous playwright, critic and political activist .
February 27, 1913.
To ‘Stella’ Beatrice Campbell
I want my rapscallionly fellow vagabond.
I want my dark lady. I want my angel -
I want my tempter.
I want my Freia with her apples.
I want the lighter of my seven lamps of beauty, honour,
laughter, music, love, life and immortality … I want
my inspiration, my folly, my happiness,
my divinity, my madness, my selfishness,
my final sanity and sanctification,
my transfiguration, my purification,
my light across the sea,
my palm across the desert,
my garden of lovely flowers,
my million nameless joys,
my day’s wage,
my night’s dream,
my darling and
George Bernard Shaw
The last but not the least comes the short but crispy love letter written to Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII (1491-1547)
To Anne Boleyn
My Mistress and Friend,
I and my heart put ourselves in your hands, begging you to recommend us to your good grace and not to let absence lessen your affection…or myself the pang of absence is already to great, and when I think of the increase of what I must needs suffer it would be well nigh intolerable but for my firm hope of your unchangeable affection…
The construction , grammar and spellings in the letters are original and unaltered .