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Do You Write Love Letters?

Updated on August 6, 2015

Is Letter Writing Obsolete?

The word love-letter conjures up scenes of damsels with trembling hands carefully breaking the seal of an elegant sheet of stationary and devouring the contents with eager eyes. Anyone who has read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice cannot help but recall such scenes. With the proliferation of communication devices on the market, the art of letter-writing has now become as obsolete as those elegant pieces of parchment. To see where this lovely art originated, we must take a look at the beginnings of writing itself.

From the Syrians 10000 years ago, using tokens with drawings on them to the Egyptians' hieroglyphics on wood and papyrus, the art of writing gradually evolved to the first alpha beta (alphabet) of the Greeks. From this our English alphabet was developed. Today our teenagers use their own version in their text messages - u for you, ur for you are. Check out Facebook for more.

How did love letters begin?

According to legend, St. Valentine, from whom we get Valentine's Day, may have written the first love letter, which later turned into the Valentine's Day card. It is said that St. Valentine, on the evening before he was executed for his Christian faith, wrote a love note to the jailer's daughter and signed it "Your Valentine."

Why did people write love letters?

For one, it was the best means of communication long ago. If a man really wanted to pour his heart out to the love of his life, he pulled out the inkwell, the quill and the parchment and got down to work. Then he put his special seal on it and gave it to his butler or carriage driver to have it delivered. Therefore, writing a love letter was not a frivolous pastime. It was serious business.

Excerpts from famous love letters

From Ludwig van Beethoven to an unknown woman (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?

George Bernard Shaw, English playwright to Ellen Terry, British actress:

"Lord, what a supernal night it was last night in the train and coming home. A ten inch moon, a limelight sky, nightingales, everything wonderful. Today, the same clearness and an Italian heat...I finished the revision of 'Mrs. Warren' yesterday. And now I must do some work. But--to sustain me in it--keep on loving me (if you ever did) my Ellenest--love me hard, love me soft, and deep, and sweet, and for ever and ever and ever."

Even US presidents have their romantic side. Here's one (undated) from Richard Nixon to his wife Pat while they were dating .

"Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. Let's go for a long ride Sunday; let's go to the mountains weekends; let's read books in front of fires; most of all, let's really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours."

Call them mushy if you like, but can you doubt someone's sincerity when they take the time to pen such heartfelt prose? Letters, especially love letters, are the window to someone's soul. In these excerpts we get a glimpse into the characters of these three men. Beethoven seems tortured somehow, talks about sacrifices and deep sorrow, Shaw is obviously a nature lover and Nixon loved books and long rides into the mountains.

Do you think writing love letters is a great way to communicate your love?

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Love letters from my book

Since I love letters so much, I couldn't help but use them in my romantic fiction to bring the hero and heroine back together. I leave you with two short excerpts:

From him to her:

Cicely, for what it’s worth, I want you to know I still love you. I don’t think I can ever stop. Part of me will always belong to you, but my darling, please understand, I couldn’t stand at the altar and watch you walk up on your father’s arm, and have him give you over to me. It would be a sacrilege.

From her to him:

“My dearest David,

I hope this letter meets you well. Last night I ate the last chocolate from the box of Whitman’s you gave me. Then I almost threw the empty box in the garbage, but decided to hold onto it, the way I have held on to everything that reminds me of you. As I ate that last chocolate, I thought of your last call, your last kiss, the last time we were together and I felt like I was part of some great symphony about to make its final exit from the stage of love. But, David, if I was onstage, I wasn’t acting. What I felt, still feel, for you is real.

I hope you enjoyed reading these love letter excerpts, and that they have inspired you to try your hand at writing one of your own. A text message is fine when you are in a rush, but if you and your significant other don't get to see each other as often as you would like - let's say he is in the military - I think you should send him a love letter now and then. A love letter allows you to pour your heart out in a way you might not be able to do verbally. So, if you want to give your loved one something he can keep for years to come and pass on to the next generation, break out the pen.


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    • quildon profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Joseph 

      4 years ago from Florida

      Thank you so much, tobusiness! Our modern, busy society only has time to say "I luv u, ur hot." LOL What a pity! Maybe those of us from a bygone age can keep the tradition going.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      You can't beat an old fashion love letter, I can't imagine that, "I luv u, ur hot" can ever really capture a heart.:)

      Loved the excerpts, both from your romantic fiction and those from the old romantics. I think we are slowly losing the art of communication and not only the written words but also meaningful verbal communicating. Up and sharing,

    • quildon profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Joseph 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Pennypines, I don't know if GBS said it, but it sounds like the kind of thing he would have said. And you're right, youth does not seem to appreciate the written word, with all the electronics at their disposal. But thank God for libraries and museums where the written word is still preserved.

    • quildon profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Joseph 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for stopping by, Joanne! So many of the old traditions and values are being lost or watered down these days. It makes me happy to know that someone out there still indulges in the beautiful art of letter- writing.

    • Pennypines profile image

      Lucille Apcar 

      5 years ago from Mariposa, California, U.S.A.

      Was it GBS who said "Ah youth is such a wonderful thing, what a pity to waste it on children" And I would like to add: what a pity Youth does not seem to appreciate the written word.

      So many wonderful love letters, poems, songs in history, will they ever come back?

    • profile image

      Joanne M Olivieri 

      5 years ago

      Letter writing is certainly a lost art these days with email, social media etc... I am from the old school and I still write letter both love and otherwise. I feel it is more personal than any other form of communication. I really enjoyed this hub so much. Great writing.


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