Love is one of the greatest mysteries of the human condition. What makes us give our hearts to someone else, never sure if that person will return the sentiment or instead crush our plans?
It also seems to be a different feeling than basic companionship, which is certainly important for us as a species. But love, while not necessarily required, is still something we all still crave.
Being in love can be amazing at times and challenging at other times. And what happens when love ends? How do we move on, what did we learn, and will we love again?
These are all common, even universal questions since the thing called love transcends classes, ages, careers, and any other social distinction. It is also something that has been discussed, celebrated, and cursed for millennia.
Love and relationships are the subjects of all sorts of famous letters. Letters can help build relationships during a courtship, extend and affirm feelings while a relationship is in motion, or help analyze where things went right and where they went wrong after the fact.
Some of the more interesting famous letters about love include:
- Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan. They were both prominent stars in Hollywood but later became part of America’s political scene. Ronald was elected the U.S. president in the 1980s and Nancy was the perfect First Lady. Even after they left public view, they continued to be the model of a happy, loving couple. Before and during his presidency, he made sure to put in the effort to regularly write her letters, always letting Nancy know she was loved. Some of these go beyond quick notes: he took the time to discuss their love and why she’s so special. In one, he used the kind phrase: “I’ve gotten very used to being happy and I love you very much indeed.”
- Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. While history mostly remembers this particular monarch as responsible for multiple wives and creating the Church of England, he was great with his words, and seemed to like the courtship and “being in love” stage. For instance, he wrote several letters to Anne Boleyn, even when he was already married. He was eager for her to be a wife or even a mistress. Though the “produce an heir” was vital for his reign, at the time of the letters, he was more interested in someone to develop a relationship with.
- Ludwig Van Beethoven to “Immortal Beloved.” Historians and musical scholars are still unsure of the identity of Beethoven’s secret paramour. But they have found a series of letters between him and her that suggests a deeper relationship but perhaps something they both knew they had to keep out of the public eye for some sort of reason. The famous letters describe his thoughts on her and love in general and what makes her so special. They also may suggest that they tried to end the relationship but still continued to have passion for each other.
- Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas. The world continues to recognize the talent of writer and poet Oscar Wilde. But society in his time was less accepting of same-sex relationships. During his affair with Lord Douglas, he was quite creative and wrote five plays. Wilde called Lord Douglas his muse, and in his famous letters, shared how important their love is, and how their love will remain even if social conventions force them apart.