Eloquent and inspiring with their words, these authors have earned universal acclaim for their various works of literature. But when it comes to the matters of love, their words can become something else entirely. Some hilariously funny, some poetic, and some just straight up dirty, these are some of the best (or worst?) love letters written by famous authors to their lovers.
5. Frank Kafka to Milena Jesenská
Frank Kafka is famous for writing things that are nightmarish and philosophical, such as his novel The Metamorphosis. Unsurprisingly, his love letters had mostly the same tone. In one to Milena Jesenská he writes:
Last night I dreamed about you. What happened in detail I can hardly remember, all I know is that we kept merging into one another. I was you, you were me. Finally you somehow caught fire. Remembering that one extinguished fire with clothing, I took an old coat and beat you with it. But again the transmutations began and it went so far that you were no longer even there, instead it was I who was on fire and it was also I who beat the fire with the coat. But the beating didn’t help and it only confirmed my old fear that such things can’t extinguish a fire. In the meantime, however, the fire brigade arrived and somehow you were saved. But you were different from before, spectral, as though drawn with chalk against the dark, and you fell, lifeless or perhaps having fainted from joy at having been saved, into my arms. But here too the uncertainty of trans mutability entered, perhaps it was I who fell into someone’s arms.
This is so metaphorical.
4. Oscar wilde to alfred douglas
Oscar Wilde, author of famous works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray, wrote multiple swoon-worthy love letters to his lover Alfred “Bosie” Douglas throughout their relationship. Theirs was a relationship that was kept a secret because being gay was still a thing that you could be imprisoned for back in that day. In those letters he wrote some incredibly poetic lines:
Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red rose-leaf 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.
Dearest of All Boys — Your letter was delightful — red and yellow wine to me — but I am sad and out of sorts — Bosie — you must not make scenes with me — they kill me — they wreck the loveliness of life — I cannot see you, so Greek and gracious, distorted with passion; I cannot listen to your curved lips saying hideous things to me — don’t do it — you break my heart — I’d sooner be rented all day, than have you bitter, unjust, and horrid — horrid.
While these letters are not terribly graphic by today’s standards, tragically, these were the same letters that were later used in the trail against him, a trail in which he was found guilty of homosexuality.
3. Virginia woolf to Vita Sackville-west
Perhaps even more scandalous than the letters themselves was Virginia Woolf’s relationship to Vita. Not only was it a relationship between two women, but they were also both married. Both of their husbands were rather okay with this relationship. In some of their letters Woolf writes:
Look here Vita — throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads — They won’t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.
2. james joyce to nora barnacle
James Joyce, author of Ulysses, met Nora Barnacle on June 10th 1904 and they had their first date soon after on June 16th, the day that he would later choose to be the date for Ulysses’ setting. As romantic as this may sound, their love letters have gained some popularity for their graphic nature.
In these love letters, Joyce writes some incredibly dirty (and honestly hilarious) lines such as:
Nora, my faithful darling, my sweet-eyed blackguard schoolgirl, be my whore, my mistress, as much as you like (my little frigging mistress! my little f*cking whore!) you are always my beautiful wild flower of the hedges, my dark-blue rain-drenched flower.
1. Charles Bukowski to Linda King
Charles Bukowski, perhaps one of the most prolific writers of the late 20th century, got really frisky while writing his love to his girlfriend Linda King.
I liked your hand-walking act; that got me hotter than hell…. everything you do gets me hotter than hell…. throwing clay against the ceiling… you bitch, you red hot shrew, you lovely lovely woman…. you have put new poems and new hope and new joy and new tricks into an old dog…
The rest of the letter only gets more explicit, so read it at your own leisure (and risk!).