Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Name That Love Letter

A. Dearest Angel Girl: … I suppose most of us are lonely in this big world, but we must fall tremendously in love to find it out. The cure is the discovery of our need for company — I mean company in the very special sense we’ve come to understand since we happened to each other — you and I. The pleasures of human experience are emptied away without that companionship — now that I’ve known it; without it joy is just an unendurable as sorrow. You are my life — my very life. Never imagine your hope approximates what you are to me. Beautiful, precious little baby — hurry up the sun! — make the days shorter till we meet. I love you, that’s all there is to it.
Your Boy, _____

B. Be happy, be loved — how would you not? But keep me in secret corner of your heart and go down there when you are saddest to find solace or support.

C. Valentine’s Day is here again. The weather looks cold and clammy… But I can happily go to work and try not to act too hammy. Cause I’ve got a warmness in my heart from my sunshine, my lifeline, my lambie! (I wish I could stay home and give you a kiss!) xxx’s

D. I don't love you, not at all; on the contrary, I detest you. You're a naught, 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, dashed of so casually! … 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? _____, take care! Some fine night, the doors will be broken open and there I'll be.


F. 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 years?

G. Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red-roseleaf 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.

H. Come for a bit or else I'll shit. If you do, this high and mighty person will think you very kind, will give you a smack behind, will kiss your hands, my dear, shoot off a gun in the rear, embrace you warmly, mind, and wash your front and behind, pay you all his debts to the uttermost groat, and shoot off one with a rousing note, perhaps even let something drop from his boat.

I. I hope that everything is external and internal smile, for you; and that, gradually, more light, and more inspiration, will for ever rise and grow inside of you. Useless to tell you how it has been sweet and strong for me that our paths have been crossing and joining, so unexpectedly, where the East ends for me and the West for you. God did it, I hope, so that we could have more life for Him…. I try to retake myself, and to think a bit, and to write. But who is living really, in the bottom of my soul? — the christian, the pagan, or the man?

J. I cannot live if you will not tell me that you still love me; but that language ought to be so natural to you, that I believe you cannot speak otherwise to me without violence to yourself. And since by this melancholy relation to your friend you have awakened all my sorrows, ’tis but reasonable you should allay them by some tokens of your unchanging love.

K. 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 its lousy of me to be so late so often and I promise to try a million times harder, I promise.

L. I dare not express to you at 300 hundred miles distance how ardently I long for your return. I have some very miserly Wishes; and cannot consent to your spending one hour in Town till at least I have had you 12. The Idea plays about my Heart, unnerves my hand whilst I write, awakens all the tender sentiments that years have encreased and matured, and which when with me were every day dispensing to you.

M. 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 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 _____, will your heart never change?  My love, will it?  I have no limit now to my love — You note came in just here — I cannot be happier away from you – 'Tis richer than an Argosy of Pearles.  Do not threat me even in jest. 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.

N. Thou only hast revealed me to myself; for without they aid, my best knowledge of myself would have been merely to know my own shadow — to watch it flickering on the wall, and mistake its fantasies for my own real actions.  Indeed, we are but shadows — we are not endowed with real life, and all that seems most real about us is but the thinnest substance of a dream — till the heart is touched. That touch creates us — then we begin to be — thereby we are beings of reality, and inheritors of eternity.

O. My Dearest Darling "Little"

Well here I am. Back out in the field for 30 days again and believe me it's miserable. There is only one consolation, and that is the fact that it's almost over, and I will come home to my career, friends, and most of all you my darling. Anita there are many things I can't tell you over the phone so I will try to tell you now. First of all I don't really know how you feel about me now because after all 2 years is a long time in a young girl's life. But I want you to know that in spite of our being apart I have developed a love for you that cannot be equaled or surpassed by anyone. My every thought is you my darling, every song I hear, every sunset reminds me of the happy and wonderful times we've spent together.

P. … 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.


1. F. Scott Fitzgerald to Zelda Sayre

2. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to Lucile Swan

3. Richard Nixon to Pat Ryan

4. Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas

5. Nathaniel Hawthorne to Sophia Peabody

6. Abigail Adams to John Adams

7. Orson Welles to Rita Hayworth

8. John Keats to Fanny Brawne

9. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Maria Anna Thekla Mozart, his cousin

10. Jerry Orbach to Elaine Orbach

11. Elvis Presley to Anita Wood

12. George Sand to Alfred de Musset

13. Marilyn Monroe to Joe DiMaggio

14. Heloise to Abelard

15. Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephe Beauharnais

16. Winston Churchill to Clementine Churchill

Answers: 1=E, 2=I, 3=P, 4=G, 5=N, 6=L, 7=A, 8=M, 9=H, 10=C, 11=O, 12=B, 13=K, 14=J, 15=D, 16=F

Sarah Marshall's fiction has most recently appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review.

Image via Flickr/markhillary

107 Comments / Post A Comment

Beatrix Kiddo

Mozart wrote in rhyming English?


@Beatrix Kiddo He was a poet and we didn't even know it! *shudder* Good thing he stuck to music...


@Beatrix Kiddo This confirms everything I learned from Amadeus.

oh! valencia

@Beatrix Kiddo The linked wikipedia article explains the rhyming English, but still, super weird.


@Beatrix Kiddo Also, did that sound super raunchy to anyone else. Mozart. Dirty bird.


@okaycrochet EXTREMELY raunchy. Perv.


@frigwiggin Say it backward, shitwit!


that was cool@k

dj pomegranate

I was hoping that E would be F. Scott! :)


@dj pomegranate



@dj pomegranate I thought it was Mr Rochester


@dj pomegranate
I was hoping it would be Rochester.


I was pretty sure it was just a Dr. Bronner's label.


@frigwiggin I think the capslock is meant to transcribe a telegram, but it could just be shoutiness!

The Attic Wife

@timesnewroman I too was hoping Mr Rochester. Or, ironically, Ernest Hemingway. I feel like his love letters would be in all caps.

Lee Van Queef

Surprising! I honestly never would have expected Orson Welles to sign anything "Your Boy."

fondue with cheddar

@Woman Laughing Alone With Boas I'm surprised he didn't sign it "It".


It seems fitting somehow that Napoleon comes off all stalker-y.


@Bittersweet Actually, I kind of liked it, sort of sarcastic and funny.....who knew?


@MoonBat OK, I'm getting more funny and self-deprecating after a few re-reads. Not so bad after all, Nappy.


Nothing will ever top James Joyce's love letters to Nora. I'd google them for you, but I'm at work.


@leon s

The ones about farting?


@leon s I came here precisely to ask "What, no James Joyce?"


@leon s yes. they're the absolute best! so dirty/funny/sexy


@TheBourneApproximation literally, exactly what I planned on saying.

Cat named Virtute

@leon s Yeah, I was sure that H was going to be Joyce to Nora.


@Cat named Virtute Me too!


@leon s I was also wondering where Joyce was! One of my favourite things is directing people to his love letters.

oh! valencia

WTF, Mozart?! I thought you were a genius!


@oh! valencia I know! Someone please explain that one to me.


@rosaline - Mozart was into butt-stuff and scat. He wrote a canon for six voices called "Lick Me In The Ass." Nothing really to be explained, son was just a freak.

Reginal T. Squirge

The Too $hort of his era, if you will.


@oh! valencia Sheesh...have none of you seen Amadeus? Okay, the story is partially made up for the movie, but he was kind of a jackass.

oh! valencia

@chevyvan No, I haven't. Should I? Worth it?


@oh! valencia Yes! It's a fantastic movie!


@oh! valencia It is a FABULOUS movie. But if you watch it, don't start it at 9:30 p.m. Sunday night when you accidentally checked the director's cut out of the library. Especially if you teach an 8:35 class on Monday morning.

Girl Named Jack

This has forever changed the way I watch "Law and Order" reruns.


JERRY ORBACH, oh my god. The tears.


@frigwiggin --<3 U, Jerry, always my Lumiere.

Reginal T. Squirge

Smooth as a motherfucker.

Lily Rowan

@frigwiggin I have never loved Jerry Orbach more than I do right now. And I loved him a lot already!


@frigwiggin My mom owns the book of love poems. I have read it and cried!


@frigwiggin I KNOW. so sweet.


@iknowright: "Actor Orbach (Law & Order), who died in 2004, wrote hundreds of poems to his wife, Elaine. During predawn hours before filming, he scribbled on sheets torn from a page-a-day cat calendar."



*weeps forever*


OMG! *squee!*
This is the note most like the messages my partner and I send to one another. We're sappy.


@laurel I thought I was picky before. Now I need to find a partner who writes me poems on pages from a cat calender. Maybe I will write them to myself.


Well, the dashes do kind of give Keats away.


@Lucienne Along with the, uh, words.


@Lucienne Greek myth allusion is a dead giveaway!


can you maybe switch the way the answers are organized so that they're in the order of the letters next time, instead of the people? it would make it way easier to read things.


Ha - Marlyn Monroe's isnt a love letter, its just an apology for being late! I know your game Marilyn.

I read letter C and my brain suddenly thought that the letter was current and it was actually February and I got all confused about when I was. I think this is how old age starts.

dj pomegranate

@teaandcakeordeath I did the same thing! We are old together :( I was like, what, February? Is it really Valentines day? How did I miss that? And then realized that it is still August.


@teaandcakeordeath If only Jerry were still around to write such adorable doggerel!


@dj pomegranate
We were just ... erm ... really caught up in the moment of that letter? (its nice having company in Oldsville)

Damn him and his playful charm! Thats what valentines should be like!


Anyone else never receive a love letter, not even an elementary school check-box-yes-or-no type one, aside from....my friend?


@SuperGogo anyone else besides my friend have the totally mature reaction of "why doesn't anyone love MEEEEEEE?" to this piece?


@SuperGogo this lady! Although the guy I liked in Grade 4 had NBA Valentines and saved me one of the good/very vaguely mushy Michael Jordan ones, so I kind of pretend that counts.


@SuperGogo I've never gotten a love letter either. I really want one though. STEP IT UP BOYS.


@SuperGogo My college boyfriend and I would send each other cards occasionally through campus mail. Now I sort of cringe and am embarrassed, but also nostalgic for it. I can't imagine doing the same thing now.

Cat named Virtute

@SuperGogo I got a Happy Period Day card from my high school boyfriend, but I don't think it counts. It had a panda on it(???).

I do have a long series of emails from an emotionally unavailable boy I was in love with for a while too!



@SuperGogo I totally saved that one AIM chat where my boyfriend told me I had nice legs.

And this statement is only depressing because of how it dates my romance.


@SuperGogo Getting love letters is easy. All you need is to be an overwrought nineteen-year-old lesbian dating another overwrought nineteen-year-old lesbian. The love letters will rain on you like you're in a Lil Wayne tune.


@EternalFootwoman I am laughing so hard at how accurate this is.


@SuperGogo My husband and I have kept all our stupid summer letters* to each other from when we were dating in college, and I am too scared to read them and too sentimental to throw them away. Hopefully it will be some descendant farther down the chain than our kids who will eventually re-open them and find our sappiness and my early attempts at sex writin' to be quaint instead of horrifying.

*i wrote letters to everyone in college because it was 2001 and I still didn't have the Internet at home


@EternalFootwoman (See also: mix tapes.)


@Xanthophyllippa So many mix tapes!


Oh CHURCHILL. Who knew he as such a softie?

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@meatcute GAAAH! That was my favorite too. So nerdy and eloquent!


@quickdrawkiddo The Churchill one is so adorable!


@meatcute Oh, they were SO CUTE! He had this cartoon of a pig he would draw as a signature, and she was a cat. There are a million love notes between him and Clemmie. Adorable.


Very disappointed that none of Mark Sanford's letters were included.


Elvis, you know you're doing it wrong when Nixon's letter is better than yours.


@jacqueline Definitely. Plus, Elvis was dating Priscilla in Germany during the time he wrote this letter and knowing that makes it soooo much more sketchy.


Richard Nixon, ROWR!


@MoonBat Right?! I was appalled when I realized that my favorite one was written by Nixon.


@SarahP Nixon: Stealth Lover.


@SarahP He's a complicated man...(cue Shaft theme)


@SarahP Me too! I need to go wash my brain. And maybe copy down his letter for future use.

Old Greggette

I must say I am a bit sad not to see any of James Joyce's love letters to his beloved Nora!


The Adamses, you guys! I love them so much. He called her Portia!


@anachronistique I have such a crush on John & Abigail Adams! Alien & Sedition Acts be damned, he got her pins!


@anachronistique Me tooooo. They seem like best friends/partners in a way that seemed very ahead of their time.


@cat_ballou "Saltpeter!! Jooooohnnnnnn!!!!"

The Attic Wife

@Bittersweet "Pins! Abigaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaail!"

Valley Girl

I know I said Liz and Richard are my OTP but, ugh, Orson Welles/Rita Hayworth are almost as good.


@Valley Girl This is really sad and gaggy but me and my boyfriend call each other boy and girl and I now want him to get home so I can show him that letter. I did not expect that from Welles.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@rayray & @Valley Girl OH SNAP Y'ALL, you both have Belle as your avatar!

Valley Girl

@Mo Cuishle @rayray OH SNAP INDEED. Belle is truly the most Hairpinnish Disney Princess.


I managed to get G! I suppose the Greek mythology man-love gives it away.

(Psst - letter O has an incriminating first name in it.)


14. Heloise to Abelard: Girlfriends snooping on boyfriends since c.1150 A.D.


No James Joyce? I'm disappointed in you, Hairpin. That's some finely written shit, haha.

The Attic Wife

@mystique I assumed the Mozart letter WAS Joyce except for the terrible poetry.

Natalie S Bell

Oh god. I love this. LOVE THIS. Would it be weird and crazy to go write anticipatory love letters for future lovers? Yes? Too late, I'm doing it anyway.


@Natalie S Bell
Gustave Flaubert is one for inspiration on this - he's quite the sex demon, but not in a Mozart/James Joyce way - regular hot but not dirty (if that's what you're after, lol!)


Get Rid Of Your James Joyce Letters, Seriously, They Are Revolting.
But also, how awesome would a "Texts from James Joyce" article be? I would read the hell out of that!

Time Platypus

Doesn't the one from George Sand sound like something Lucy from Villette would say? Or, you know, not actually say but want to,

Greta M.

What? No letter to Angela Chase from Jordan Catelano/ Brian Krakow on this list


I want to write ABIGAIL ADAMS a love letter, but it would just be composed of, "OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU DEAD I LOVE YOU." I used to go to the (now Unitarian) church in Quincy just because it was the same church the Adams' went to. You can visit them in the crypt, but people frown on you trying to summon Abigail's ghost :((((


Ronald Reagan to Nancy, anyone? http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/04/i-cant-remember-ever-being-without-you.html

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