Top 10: Celebrity love letters
10) James Dean to Barbara Glenn - £22,500
Three handwritten letters from 1950s Hollywood heartthrob James Dean to his long-term on-and-off girlfriend Barbara Glenn. Written in 1954 during the filming for East of Eden, his first Hollywood film, they reveal the emotional strain of work and the couple’s long distance relationship.
‘Please write to me darling… please come and see me’.
Sold at Christies for £22,500 in November 2011.
9) Elizabeth Taylor to William Pawley - $47,652 (£29,401)
Extensive archive of over 60 letters written in 1949, when Elizabeth Taylor was just 17, to her fiancée William Pawley Jr.
*‘I’ve never known this kind of love before – it’s so perfect and complete – and mature… I’ve never loved anyone in my life before one third as much as I love you – and I never will’.
‘My heart aches & makes me want to cry when I think of you, and how much I want to be with and to look into your beautiful blue eyes, and kiss your sweet lips and have your strong arms hold me, oh so tight, & close to you … I want us to be 'lovers' always … even after we've been married seventy-five years and have at least a dozen great-great-grandchildren’.
They were engaged for less than a year, and never married.
Sold at RR Auction for $47,652 in May 2011.
8) Charles Bukowski to Linda King - $60,000 (£29,949)
Unpublished love letters from writer Charles Bukowski to the love of his life Linda King, including poems and drawings, even some of his own blood. Incredibly intimate details are included. These are the only extensive love letters Bukowski ever wrote, and his undying love for this one woman is palpable. The archive traces their affair from when they were together:
‘Linda…I love you more than 5,000 airplanes flying over Redondo Beach…’
To their separation:
‘Dearest dearest Linda: it endures, it endures beyond everything. I am entrapped within you forever…I love you, woman, I love you… There’s no way I can get you out of my mind and soul.’
Sold at PBA Galleries for $60,000 in April 2007.
7) Ian Fleming to Loelia Ponsonby - £33,650
Four handwritten letters from the James Bond author Ian Fleming, to the woman on whom Miss Moneypenny was based. Written before and during the second world war, with references to Fleming’s work at the war office.
‘I shall come & wake you with a kiss I shall sleep outside (I said outside) your door & live on Luft und Liebe – which means air & love in case you weren’t finished’.
Sold at Christie’s for £33,650 in November 2008.
6) Winston Churchill to Pamela Plowden - £77,675
Handwritten letter representing the turning point of Churchill’s relationship with Pamela Plowden, dated 1899.
‘Were I a dreamer of dreams, I would say … "Marry me - and I will conquer the world and lay it at your feet"… Your influence brings a strange force into my life. The snowpeak is flushed with crimson & gold by the rising sun - even if the snow is never melted’.
Sold at Christie’s for £77,675 in December 2003.
5) John Keats to Fanny Brawne - £96,000
A handwritten letter from one of the most romantic of Romantic poets John Keats to his fiancée circa 1820. Written a month before his death, while experiencing the first symptoms of tuberculosis. Not allowed to see anyone, Keats kept up exchange with Fanny through notes.
‘I shall kiss your name and mine where your Lips have been - Lips! why should a poor prisoner as I am talk about such things. Thank God, though I hold them the dearest pleasures in the universe, I have a consolation independent of them in the certainty of your affection.’
Sold at Bonhams for £96,000 in March 2011.
4) Mick Jagger to Marsha Hunt - £187,250
Ten secret love letters from Mick Jagger to Marsha Hunt. The letters are described as ‘passionate’ and ‘articulate’, providing an intimate view of the man who was at the time fronting the world’s most successful rock band The Rolling Stones. They were penned in the midst of the social and cultural revolution of 1969. In the letters, Jagger is revealed as the poetic and self-aware 25 year old behind the international superstar.
'I feel with you something so unsung there is no need to sing it.'
Sold at Sotheby's for £187,250 in December 2012.
3) William Faulkner to Else Jonsson - $253,900 (£156,656)
The complete correspondence of love letters from Faulkner to his lover, written between 1950 and 1960 and unpublished.
‘Else, it seems impossible to leave, going back across the ocean without seeing you again… All the pride and glory of being a Nobel prize bloke is nothing against one afternoon - your eyes, the color of your hair, your mouth, your sweet tongue, your soft sweet white girl-woman flesh that I touched. I love you, Else’.
Sold at Christie’s for $253,900 in December 2004.
2) James Joyce to Nora Barnacle - £240,800
A highly charged erotic handwritten letter from James Joyce to his muse and wife Nora Barnacle, dated December 1909. Joyce wrote this as a response to a racy letter from Nora. The correspondence occurred during the couple’s separation after an argument. These letters reconciled them, and led to Joyce’s writing of his magnum opus, Ulysses.
‘My darling little blackguard… my strange-eyed whore… heaven forgive my madness, Jim’.
Sold at Sotheby’s for £240,800 in July 2004.
At the same auction, two other Joyce love letters to Nora from September and October 1904 sold for £33,600 and £84,000.
1) Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine de Beauharnais - £276,000
A passionate love letter following a quarrel between the engaged couple, dated 1795/6. One of only three known love letters from Napoleon to Josephine before they were married.
‘What is your strange power, incomparable Josephine? One of your thoughts poisons my life, my soul torn by the most contradictory resolutions… I give you three kisses, one on your heart, one on your mouth, one in your eyes’.
Sold at Christie’s for £276,000 in July 2007.
The bookmarklet lets you save things you find to your collections.
Note: Make sure your bookmarks are visible.
Click and drag the Collect It button to your browser's Bookmark Bar.