The Greatest Love Letters
‘How lucky I am to spend my life with the greatest woman I ever met’: Johnny Cash’s note to wife June voted greatest love letter of all time (and beats poet John Keats)
A heartfelt birthday message from Johnny Cash to his beloved wife June has been voted the greatest love letter of all time.
The simple, but plainly expressed missive in which the singer dubbed the Man in Black writes ‘you’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence,’ has topped a list of passionate penmanship.
Written in 1994, the letter beat notes by Keats, Churchill, Jimmy Hendrix and the great Hollywood lovers Richard Burton and Liz Taylor.
In the Valentine’s Day poll, the country music legend Johnny Cash’s letter in which he writes to ‘the greatest woman I ever met’ on his wife June Carter’s 65th birthday was regarded as the most moving.
In it he wrote, ‘We got old and got used to each other. We think alike. We read each other’s minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes we take each other for granted.
‘But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. ‘You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.’
Winston Churchill’s words of undying love to his ‘darling Clemmie’ in 1935 came second.
Poet John Keats may be famous for his odes but he only manages third place on the table despite his way with words telling his next door neighbour Fanny Brawne that he can not live without her in 1819.
Despite his many wives King Henry VIII makes an appearance in the list confessing his love to his second wife Anne Boleyn in 1527.
The much-married monarch, who later had his wife executed, wrote: ‘I beg to know expressly your intention touching the love between us. Necessity compels me to obtain this answer, having been more than a year wounded by the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail or find a place in your affection.’
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven takes eighth place as pens his love for his ‘Immortal Beloved’ whose true identity remains a mystery.
Gerald Ford earns himself ninth place on the list with his letter to wife Betty after her cancer diagnosis .
Jimmy Hendrix’s letter to his ‘little girl’ comes in at tenth as he encourages her to ‘spread her wings‘. The recipient of the letter is unclear but still earns itself a place in the top spot.
The poll to discover our favourite romantic message was commissioned by British life insurance company Beagle Street to encourage Brits to be more romantic on February 14.
In the battle of the sexes, it was men who came out on top in the romance stakes with nearly one in four (24 per cent) saying they have sent a love letter within the last year.
But after 38 per cent of women admitted that they had never written a love letter, 46 percent declared the tradition outdated.
Londoners proved the most romantic in the country with 74 percent claiming to have penned a love note, while in the North East it was just 55 percent.
Beagle Street’s managing director Matthew Gledhill says that a hand-written note is still appreciated even in the modern age.
‘A well-written love letter can stand the test of time and be a permanent record of affection so it is important the tradition doesn’t die out.
‘We hope our research inspires people who have never written a love letter to take some time out and write down and share exactly how they feel with a loved one.’
TOP TEN GREATEST LOVE LETTERS
1. Johnny Cash wishes wife June Carter Cash a happy 65th birthday (1994)
‘We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each other’s minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted. But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realise how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met.’
2. Winston Churchill tells wife Clementine Churchill of his undying love (1935)
‘My darling Clemmie, in your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love.’
3. John Keats tells next door neighbour Fanny Brawne he can not live without her (1819)
‘I cannot exist without you – I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again – my Life seems to stop there – I see no further. You have absorb’d me.’
4. Ernest Hemingway professes his love to Marlene Dietrich (1951)
‘I can’t say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home.’
5. Napoleon Bonaparte sends his love to Josephine de Beauharnais (1796)
‘Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of the incomparable Josephine kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart.’
6. Richard Burton tells Elizabeth Taylor of her beauty (1964)
‘My blind eyes are desperately waiting for the sight of you. You don’t realize of course, E.B., how fascinatingly beautiful you have always been, and how strangely you have acquired an added and special and dangerous loveliness.’
7. King Henry VIII expresses his love for Anne Boleyn (1527)
‘I beg to know expressly your intention touching the love between us. Necessity compels me to obtain this answer, having been more than a year wounded by the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail or find a place in your affection.’
8. Beethoven pens his love for his ‘Immortal Beloved’ whose true identity remains a mystery (1812)
‘Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, Be calm-love me-today-yesterday-what tearful longings for you-you-you-my life-my all-farewell. Oh continue to love me-never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved. Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours.’
9. Gerald Ford reminds wife Betty Ford of his and their family’s love for her shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer (1974)
‘No written words can adequately express our deep, deep love. We know how great you are and we, the children and Dad, will try to be as strong as you. Our Faith in you and God will sustain us. Our total love for you is everlasting.‘
10. Jimmy Hendrix tells his ‘little girl’ to spread her wings (date unknown)
‘Happiness is within you*. So unlock the chains from your heart and let yourself grow like the sweet flower you are*. I know the answer. Just spread your wings and set yourself FREE’
Fill in the gaps in these sentences about love with the words below from the text. Two of the words will be left out.
I never doubted the sincerity of her … (1) emotions.
He hesitated for a long time but finally … (2) his love to her.
After being away for a year she … (3) wanted to see him.
After 25 years they could say that their love stood the … (4) of time.
He was … (5) by the sight of her bride in the long white dress.
He said that the … (6) burning in his heart for her will never die.
She was afraid that he would … (7) her intentions if she was to tell him about her feelings.
He was holding her hand, … (8) her arms gently.
She burst into tears after reading her lover’s … (9) letter.
She just couldn’t forget him even for a minute, he was … (10) in her thoughts.
1.f 2.c 3.i. 4.g 5.k 6.a 7.e 8.h 9.l 10.d