The art of writing love letters is one of the oldest and most romantic traditions. It’s a way to express passion, longing and even unspoken feelings from time to time. Whether it’s Charlotte Bronte or Winston Churchill, love letters have been around for centuries and still are today. In fact, some of the most extraordinary and valuable romantic letters have been sold at auction.
In the blog, we dive into the history of love letters along with the most romantic love letters to be sold in recent times.
The history of love letters
Like most traditions, love letters have evolved over time. Back in 1528, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn sent love notes scribbled under paintings on parchment paper. Three hundred years later, Charles Dickens wrote love letters to Catherine Hogarth with a lot of mixed messages. Then, as we entered the 20th Century, Rupert Brooke and Cathleen Nesbitt shared heartfelt testimonies of their love for one another.
As we reflect on love letters throughout the ages, it’s clear that romantic relationships were just as complicated in 1528 as they are today. But at least today, we have a more instant form of communication.
Love letters sold at auction
In 2020, a collection of romantic letters from the rapper Tupac Shakur was sold for a whopping £55,558. The twenty-two letters were addressed to his high school sweetheart from the age of 16, documenting their young love and their eventual breakup.
Furthermore, Frida Kahlo, a renowned artist of the 20th century, wrote a collection of love letters to Jose Bartoli with many poems, photos and drawings. They sold for over £100,000.
Finally, we have Leonard Cohen and his love letters addressed to his former girlfriend, Marianne Ihlen. She was the inspiration for many of his most popular hits, such as “So Long, Marianne.” The collection of letters sold for a staggering £644, 127.18.
Love letters aren’t going anywhere
Love letters are a beautiful part of literature, history and modern-day pop culture. A few centuries ago, they were written on parchment paper with poetic language and sprawling writing. These days, we share love letters over text, email and even Instagram. Of course, it’s always more romantic when the letters are hand-written instead of on a digital screen.
These romantic artefacts preserve raw emotion for centuries and get passed down throughout history. Love letters provide an elegant narration of what it was like to live in a certain time period, whether it was the reign of Henry VII or World War I.
So, the next time you feel a surge of love and emotion, why not write it down? A love letter paired with a classic watch makes an excellent Christmas or Valentine’s present.