Whether written in faded ink or adorned in watercolour wash, notes of love – however brief – are one of the most universally enchanting and sentimental of keepsakes.

There is something disarmingly honest, heartfelt and unguarded about the written word, something that cannot quite be captured by the modern modes of text and WhatsApp. Raw, honest, and the most human of emotions, the nuances of love are never more acutely realised than through the nostalgic format of a love note: unanimously understood, yet startlingly unique. Victor Hugo addressed his to ‘my adorable and adored’, Frida Kahlo sealed hers with pink lipstick kisses, Lucian Freud illustrated his provocative letters to Sir. Stephen Spender and signed them “Lucionus Fruitata” – literally ‘juicy fruit’.

In celebration of love note day, we consider our favourite exclamations of love – from the affection of friendship, to the poetry of everlasting romance.

Although celebrated on September 26, we thought a wrap up for your month should include a charming ending.

Yves Saint-Laurent to Alexander Liberman, June 7, 1970

Yves Saint-Laurent to Alexander Liberman

Yves Saint-Laurent to Alexander Liberman, June 7, 1970

“My very very dear Alex

I am here, in Marrakech
and I am thinking of you as always
of your friendship, loyalty
and your sincerity
I hope to see you as soon as possible and hug you
I love you with all my heart

Yves”

Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé first arrived in Morocco in 1966. The designer, who had Algerian roots, felt a certain affinity with the place, finding solace in the Majorelle Gardens which became their home, and inspiration in the streets of Marrakech; his love of the country to be found throughout his collections, and thoughtfully drawn onto letters to home. His note to Vogue Art Director Alexander Liberman is one of heartfelt longing, the sorrow of separation, and of the often overlooked platonic love.

 

Johnny Cash to his wife June Carter Cash, June 24, 1994

Johnny Cash's birthday note to his wife June

Johnny Cash to his wife June Carter Cash, June 24, 1994

“Happy Birthday Princess,

We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each others 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 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.

Happy Birthday Princess.

John”

A tumultuous, troubled affair, Johnny Cash’s relationship with June Carter is often painted as a Hollywood romance, yet it was often fraught with difficulties brought about by his addictions, his frequent arrests, and the ardent romance they shared, so fiery it inspired the infamous hit, ‘Ring of Fire’. Despite the personal obstacles they faced, they remained together until their deaths occurring only four months apart; it was suggested Johnny Cash’s health worsened after June passed, and that he died of a broken heart.

 

Rockwell Kent to Frances Kent, 1929

Rockwell Kent

Rockwell Kent to Frances Kent, 1929

“My darling,

I DO!”

Throughout his fifteen year marriage to Frances, artist Rockwell Kent travelled extensively, illustrating letters of love to his wife whenever she did not accompany him, and imploring her to join him. Throughout his explorations and ceaseless wonderings, he fell in love with Greenland, and it was during his time here that he created some of his most exquisite and memorable watercolours. Yet his love for the place (and the women within it) eventually led to his filing for divorce in 1940, as the love expressed in the letter above, was to be overshadowed by another.

 

Frida Kahlo to her husband Diego Rivera, 1940.

Frida Kahlo's note to Diego Rivera

Frida Khlao to her husband Diego Rivera, 1940.

“Diego, my love,

Remember that once you finish the fresco we will be together forever once and for all, without arguments or anything, only to love one another.
Behave yourself and do everything that Emmy Lou tells you.
I adore you more than ever.

Your girl,
Frida
(Write me)”

Frida Kahlo and her husband, acclaimed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, shared a volatile and passionately open marriage; she famously enjoying a same sex relationship with Diego’s assistant Christina Hastings, and he with Frida’s sister.
Intellectual equals and revered painters in their own right, an electric frisson ran throughout their partnership, one that was often fraught with tradegy and betrayal – yet they both maintained that they were the love of each other’s life, and remained together until Frida’s death in 1947.

 

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s list of made up words

Celebrated children’s author Roald Dahl was so in love with words, that he often created his own. Joyous, exuberant outbursts of “Gobblefunk” (the name of his made-up language) punctuated his tales of giants and esio trots, betraying an unbridled romance with the written word, and one that still inspires and delights today. A love so inclusive as to consider the mode of communicating it, his works are in essence, a love letter to language itself.

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