If a picture speaks a thousand words, a love letter speaks a thousand more . . . Even in this age of e-mail, faxes, and instant messaging, nothing has ever replaced the power of a love letter. Love letters express the spectrum of our emotions, offering a colorful glimpse into the soul of the writer, and of the writer's beloved. For passionate readers and lovers of words, a letter is irresistible. List of letters included: Ludwig van Bethoveen - The Immortal Beloved Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas Emma Darwin to Charles Darwin Vita Sackville-West & Virginia Woolf - Love Letters Honoré de Balzac to Countess Ewelina Haska Napoleon Bonaparte to Joséphine de Beauharnais John Keats to Fanny Brawne Lord Byron to Teresa Guiccioli Voltaire to Olympe Dunover Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn Leo Tolstoy to Valeria Arsenev Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet Nathaniel Hawthorne to Sophia Hawthorne Jack London to Anna Strunsky Johann von Goethe to Charlotte von Stein James Joyce to Nora Barnacle Abigail Adams to John Adams Sullivan Ballou to Sarah Ballou Harriet Beecher Stowe to Her Husband, Calvin Pietro Bembo to Lucrezie Borgia Charlotte Brontë to Constantin Heger Lewis Carroll to Gertrude Chataway Catherine Of Aragon to Henri VIII Mark Twain to Olivia Langdon John Constable to Maria Oliver Cromwell to Elizabeth Cromwell Ninon De L'Enclos to One Of Her Lovers Alfred de Musset to Amantine Aurore Dudevant Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald Mary Wollstonecraft to William Godwin Heloise - Letter to Peter Abelard Count Gabriel Honore de Mirbeau to Sophie Lyman Hodge to Mary Granger, His Fiancee King Henry IV Of France to Gabrielle d'Estrées Franz Liszt to the Countess d'Agoult Katherine Mansfield to John Middleton Murry Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to his wife Constanze Thomas Otway to Mrs Barry Ovid to his wife Robert Schumann to Clara Wieck Vincent Van Gogh to Theo, his brother Tsarina Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas II Of Russia Laura Lyttleton - Letter to Alfred, Her Husband
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Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen in 1821, the son of a distinguished surgeon and a doctor's daughter. After three unhappy years of studying law in Paris, an epileptic attack ushered him into a life of writing. Madame Bovary won instant acclaim upon book publication in 1857, but Flaubert's frank display of adultery in bourgeois France saw him go on trial for immorality, only narrowly escaping conviction.
Both Salammbo (1862) and The Sentimental Education (1869) were poorly received, and Flaubert's genius was not publicly recognized until Three Tales (1877). His reputation among his fellow writers, however, was more constant and those who admired him included Turgenev, George Sand, Victor Hugo and Zola. Flaubert's obsession with his art is legendary: he would work for days on a single page, obsessively attuning sentences, seeking always le mot juste in a quest for both beauty and precise observation.
His style moved Edmund Wilson to say,'Flaubert, by a single phrase - a notation of some commonplace object - can convey all the poignance of human desire, the pathos of human defeat; his description of some homely scene will close with a dying fall that reminds one of great verse or music.' Flaubert died suddenly in May 1880, leaving his last work, Bouvard and Pécuchet, unfinished.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, where he wrote the bulk of his masterful tales of American colonial history.
His career as a novelist began with The Scarlet Letter (1850) and also includes The house of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835, in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri.
Writing grand tales about Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and the mighty Mississippi River, Mark Twain explored the American soul with wit, buoyancy, and a sharp eye for truth. He became nothing less than a national treasure.
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97) was an educational, political and feminist writer who early in her life worked as a companion, teacher and governess.
In 1788 she settled in London as a translator and reader for the publisher Joseph Johnson, becoming part of the radical set that included Paine, Blake, Godwin and the painter Fuseli. Her great work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was published in 1792.
She lived in Paris during the French Revolution and had a child by the American Gilbert Imlay, who deserted her. She returned to London in 1795 and, following her attempted suicide, became involved with Godwin, whom she married in 1797, shortly before the birth (which proved fatal) of her daughter, the future Mary Shelley. She left several unfinished works, including Maria.
Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882. After her father's death in 1904 Virginia and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, moved to Bloomsbury and became the centre of ‘The Bloomsbury Group’. This informal collective of artists and writers exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture.
In 1912 Virginia married Leonard Woolf, a writer and social reformer. Three years later, her first novel The Voyage Out was published, followed by Night and Day (1919) and Jacob's Room (1922). Between 1925 and 1931 Virginia Woolf produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, from Mrs Dalloway (1925) to The Waves (1931).
She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography. On 28 March 1941, a few months before the publication of her final novel, Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf committed suicide.
James Joyce was born in Dublin on 2 February 1882, the eldest of ten children in a family which, after brief prosperity, collapsed into poverty. He was none the less educated at the best Jesuit schools and then at University College, Dublin, and displayed considerable academic and literary ability.
Although he spent most of his adult life outside Ireland, Joyce's psychological and fictional universe is firmly rooted in his native Dublin, the city which provides the settings and much of the subject matter for all his fiction.
He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922) and its controversial successor Finnegans Wake (1939), as well as the short story collection Dubliners (1914) and the semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). James Joyce died in Zurich, on 13 January 1941.
John Keats (1795-1821) was one of the most important poets of the Romantic period.
A doctor by training before, he was the author of some of the most widely-loved poems in the English language, including "Ode to a Nightingale", "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" and "The Eve of St. Agnes."
Jack London (1876 - 1916), lived a life rather like one of his adventure stories. He was born John Chaney, the son of a travelling Irish-American fortune-teller and Flora Wellman, the outcast of a rich family. By the time Jack was a year old, Flora had married a grocer called John London and settled into a life of poverty in Pennsylvania. As Jack grew up he managed to escape from his grim surroundings into books borrowed from the local library - his reading was guided by the librarian.
At fifteen Jack left home and travelled around North America as a tramp - he was once sent to prison for thirty days on a charge of vagrancy. At nineteen he could drink and curse as well as any boatman in California! He never lost his love of reading and even returned to education and gained entry into the University of California. He soon moved on and in 1896 joined the gold rush to the Klondyke in north-west Canada. He returned without gold but with a story in his head that became a huge best-seller - The Call of the Wild - and by 1913 he was the highest -paid and most widely read writer in the world. He spent all his money on his friends, on drink and on building himself a castle-like house which was destroyed by fire before it was finished. Financial difficulties led to more pressure than he could cope with and in 1916, at the age of forty, Jack London committed suicide.
Titles such as The Call of the Wild, The Sea-Wolf and White Fang continue to excite readers today.
Russian author, a master of realistic fiction and one of the world's greatest novelists.
Tolstoy is best known for his two longest works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which are commonly regarded as among the finest novels ever written. War and Peace in particular seems virtually to define this form for many readers and critics. Among Tolstoy's shorter works, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is usually classed among the best examples of the novella. Especially during his last three decades Tolstoy also achieved world renown as a moral and religious teacher. His doctrine of nonresistance to evil had an important influence on Gandhi. Although Tolstoy's religious ideas no longer command the respect they once did, interest in his life and personality has, if anything, increased over the years.
Most readers will agree with the assessment of the 19th-century British poet and critic Matthew Arnold that a novel by Tolstoy is not a work of art but a piece of life; the 20th-century Russian author Isaak Babel commented that, if the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy. Critics of diverse schools have agreed that somehow Tolstoy's works seem to elude all artifice. Most have stressed his ability to observe the smallest changes of consciousness and to record the slightest movements of the body. What another novelist would describe as a single act of consciousness, Tolstoy convincingly breaks down into a series of infinitesimally small steps. According to the English writer Virginia Woolf, who took for granted that Tolstoy was “the greatest of all novelists,” these observational powers elicited a kind of fear in readers, who “wish to escape from the gaze which Tolstoy fixes on us.”
Those who visited Tolstoy as an old man also reported feelings of great discomfort when he appeared to understand their unspoken thoughts. It was commonplace to describe him as godlike in his powers and titanic in his struggles to escape the limitations of the human condition. Some viewed Tolstoy as the embodiment of nature and pure vitality, others saw him as the incarnation of the world's conscience, but for almost all who knew him or read his works, he was not just one of the greatest writers who ever lived but a living symbol of the search for life's meaning.
Voltaire (1694 1778) was a French man of letters and a leading figure of the Enlightenment, known for his outspokenness and polemical writings.
The philosophical novellas Candide and Zadig are among his most celebrated works.
Katherine Mansfield, short-story writer and poet, was born Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp in 1888 in Wellington. At 19, she left for the UK and became a significant Modernist writer, mixing with fellow writers such as Virginia Woolf, TS Eliot and DH Lawrence.
She wrote five collections of short stories, the final one being published posthumously by her husband, the writer and critic John Middleton Murry, along with a volume of her poems and another of her critical writings, and subsequently there have been collections of her letters and journals.
She died of tuberculosis at the age of 34 at Fontainebleau. Although New Zealand settings do feature in her works, she looked to European movements in writing and the arts for inspiration, and also wrote stories with a European setting.
Vita Sackville-West was born in 1892 at Knole in Kent, the only child of aristocratic parents. In 1913 she married diplomat Harold Nicolson, with whom she had two sons and travelled extensively before settling at Kent’s Sissinghurst Castle in 1930, where she devoted much of her time to creating its now world-famous garden.
Throughout her life Sackville-West had a number of other relationships with both men and women, and her unconventional marriage would later become the subject of a biography written by her son Nigel Nicolson.
Though she produced a substantial body of work, amongst which are writings on travel and gardening, Sackville-West is best known for her novels The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent (1931), and for the pastoral poem The Land (1926), which was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden Prize. Sackville-West died on 2 June 1962 at her Sissinghurst home, aged seventy.
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