Love Letters: 2000 Years of Romance – Book Feature

Saint Valentine’s Day should be about sweet-nothings whispered in the ears of doe-eyed lovers and a celebration of that crazy little thing called love but let’s face it; if you get more than a fistful of flowers, an extra ‘X’ on the end of your morning text and a Moonpig greetings card this year, you’ll be doing better than the rest of us.

Fear not however, as the British Library is here to satisfy your carnal needs with their latest, lyrical literature, Love Letters: 2000 Years of Romance, composed and edited by the Curator of Early Modern Historical Manuscripts, Andrea Clarke, who explains that, “in an age of emails, tweets and texted ‘I luv u’s’, Love Letters invites us into a privileged realm and reminds us why the written word is so special”.

Peel back the cover to reveal a myriad of pages awash with dancing words, dipping and diving, intertwining, to display a delightful, transcription of twenty-five love letters, resurrected by the kiss of life, from the Library’s very own collection; spanning from 168 BC right up to the Twentieth Century. Any who cast their lusting gaze over the publication and flick through its amour-drenched pages will be treated to an intimate peek into the emotions and desires of icons including Anne Boleyn, Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens; stripping raw the utmost clandestine infatuations of Charlotte Brontë, Horatio Lord Nelson and Henry VIII.

Nostalgic portraits punctuate this scattering of scribbling, breathing visual stimulation into a delving exposition of lovers over the decades, laying bare, “every shade of love” for you to explore, to your hearts content. From the bittersweet, 50,000-word strong declaration of emotional hardship from Charles Dickens, to the tattered remains of Brontë’s heart-pourings, documenting her scandalous captivation with her Professor Héger and the previously unpublished, post-childbirth letter, from Marvyn Peake to his wife, declaring his deep, un-ending adoration for her. To Cathleen Nesbitt, Rupert Brookes also exclaims, “I will kiss you till I kill you”.

So how about an evening spent amidst smudgey candlelight, perusing the pages of Love Letters? It’s sure to beat witnessing a sniveling Rachel McAdams moping over Ryan Gosling in a re-run of The Notebook, is it not? Put the ice cream down, the DVD back in its box and pick up your copy of Love Letters from the British Library shop (www.bl.uk/shop) or visit the website for more information.

For more information visit www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event127223.html

Book Feature by Stephanie Whalley

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