With Valentine’s Day approaching, draw inspiration from history’s most beautiful love letters.
The five best love letters of all time
1. Johnny Cash to June Carter Cash
The soulful tunes of Johnny Cash are celebrated around the world, but recently a note from the famous singer-songwriter to his wife, June Carter Cash, has topped a poll of the greatest love letters of all time. The couple shared more than thirty years of marriage, and their enduring love was a central theme of the 2005 biopic Walk the Line. Below is the letter Johnny Cash wrote to his wife on her 65th birthday. Caution: this might make you weep at your desk.
Happy Birthday Princess,
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.
2. Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera
Mexican painter and cultural icon, Frida Kahlo remains best known for her vibrant self-portraits, which fuse surrealism with a traditional Mexican aesthetic. From 1929 to 1954, Kahlo was married to prominent Mexican painter Diego Rivera, during which time she penned a number of profound love letters to her husband. The letters, republished in The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait, are representative of the intense, and often volatile, nature of their relationship.
Mirror of the night
Your eyes green swords inside my flesh. waves between our hands.
All of you in a space full of sounds — in the shade and in the light. You were called AUXOCHROME the one who captures color. I CHROMOPHORE — the one who gives color.
You are all the combinations of numbers. life. My wish is to understand lines form shades movement. You fulfill and I receive. Your word travels the entirety of space and reaches my cells which are my stars then goes to yours which are my light.”
3. Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas
Oscar Wilde is undoubtedly one of the greatest, and most celebrated, writers of all time– prolific in spite of the enormous indignities he was subjected to throughout his short life. Imprisoned multiple times for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality, Wilde became bankrupt and died in impoverished exile in Paris, aged 46. His ‘sinful,’ forbidden love for English author and poet Lord Alfred Douglas informed much of his work, and Wilde’s profound feelings are beautifully expressed in his letters to Lord Douglas, republished in Oscar Wilde: A Life in Letters. In January of 1893, Wilde wrote:
My Own Boy,
Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red rose-leaf lips of yours should be made no less for the madness of music and song than for the madness of kissing. Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days.
Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to Salisbury? Do go there to cool your hands in the grey twilight of Gothic things, and come here whenever you like. It is a lovely place and lacks only you; but go to Salisbury first.
Always, with undying love, yours,
4. Germaine Greer to Martin Amis
In 2013, controversial Australian-born feminist writer sold a portion of her personal archive of work to the University of Melbourne. Discovered in the trove of journals and papers was a notebook containing a 30,000 word love letter to novelist Martin Amis, written during their affair in 1976. The literary pair have not publicly acknowledged their affair, and Greer never sent the letter to Amis. The opus is unsettling, packed with Greer’s signature coarse language and some…indelicate… imagery, and yet there are moments of tender, beautiful prose, too.
“It astonishes me with that tobacco hair and those tangled black eyelashes that you do not have brown eyes. Your eyes … are cool-coloured, sort of air force blue-grey, and strangely unreflecting. You slide them away from most things and look at people through your thick eyelids, under your hair, your eyebrows and your lashes. You look at mouths more than eyes. Is it because you hate to look up? It is very shy and graceful and tantalising, as well you know.”
5. Patti Smith to Robert Mapplethorpe
In her 2010 memoir, Just Kids, American singer-songwriter, visual artist and author Patti Smith details her passionate love affair with famous photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, against the electric backdrop of the New York City punk rock movement. Although Smith went on to marry musician Fred “Sonic” Smith, she remained close friends with Mapplethorpe until his death in 1989. After his death, she wrote him this powerful letter:
Often as I lie awake I wonder if you are also lying awake. Are you in pain or feeling alone? You drew me from the darkest period of my young life, sharing with me the sacred mystery of what it is to be an artist. I learned to see through you and never compose a line or draw a curve that does not come from the knowledge I derived in our precious time together. Your work, coming from a fluid source, can be traced to the naked song of your youth. You spoke then of holding hands with God. Remember, through everything, you have always held that hand, grip it hard, Robert, and don’t let go. The other afternoon, when you fell asleep on my shoulder, I drifted off, too. But before I did, it occured to me looking around at all of your things and your work and going through years of work in my mind, that of all your work, you are still your most beautiful. The most beautiful work of all.
Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, image credit: http://just–kids.tumblr.com/
If you’re thinking about immortalising your love in words, start here:
Try this pad of 50, A4 sheets of lush writing paper from Belgian paper label Original Crown Mill. You may not be able to squeeze 30 000 words of adoration onto these pages, but you can give it a good shot.
If you’d prefer to keep your declaration of love short and sweet, then the G. Lalo ‘Mode de Paris’ Gift Box set– featuring 30 soft grey deckle edge cards with matching envelopes– is perfect.
For cursive writing reminiscent of more romantic times, use a fountain pen– a Kaweco Skyline Fountain Pen with a medium nib is an excellent choice, as is a Lamy Fountain Pen in Red. A fine nib is ideal for those with smaller handwriting.
Pilot’s range of smooth, vibrant inks are inspired by the hues of the Japanese landscape. This gorgeous shade of ‘Hydrangea’ is like a bouquet on the page.
And, if long stem roses are a little too cliché for your lover, why not try a J. Herbin bottled fountain pen ink, in this beautiful shade of ‘Rose Cyclamen’ pink.
Seal your love letter with a kiss, and an old-school wax seal. Choose one of our ready-made seals, featuring a diamond, flower or love-heart, or for that extra-special touch, design a custom seal with the initials of you and your Valentine.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Lots of love, Milligram. xx