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‘My Immortal Beloved’

In tribute to the humble love letter - Happy Valentine’s Day

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In today's digital age, the handwritten love letter is sadly, something of a rarity. A handwritten letter of any sort, never mind a few lines of heartfelt prose professing one’s love to another, shows that someone has taken the time to craft their thoughts on paper, rather than simply hammer away at their keyboard.

There have been some beautiful letters composed over the years, but as with most things, not all love letters are created equal. This week, as part of our Valentine’s campaign, we’ve been sharing a few of the more famous masterclasses of affectionate prose to highlight the continuing value of sending letters or cards in the post.

So far, we’ve had letters from Suleiman to HurremNapoleon to Josephine, Frida to Diego,and Oscar to Alfred. Today, we bring you a double bill – a letter from Beethoven to his ‘Immortal Beloved,’ and a rather more racy affair from famed painter Georgia O'Keeffe to celebrated photographer, Alfred Stieglitz.

Beethoven to his ‘Immortal Beloved’

While the identity of Beethoven’s ‘Immortal Beloved,’ to whom the iconic composer and pianist wrote a number of letters in 1812, is still largely a mystery, the letters themselves paint a very vivid picture. Many historians believe Beethoven's ‘Beloved’ to have been a diplomat’s daughter, named Antonie Brentano, to whom the composer dedicated his ‘Diabelli Variations Op. 120.’ In one of his letters found after his death, he famously wrote:

‘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.’

Georgia O'Keeffe to Alfred Stieglitz

Over the course of her 30-year romance with Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe exchanged more than 5,000 letters on everything from the mundane ongoings of her daily life to some of their more passionate encounters, as the below amply illustrates.

‘Dearest, my body is simply crazy with wanting you. If you don't come tomorrow I don't see how I can wait for you. I wonder if your body wants mine the way mine wants yours – the kisses, the hotness, the wetness, all melting together, the being held so tight that it hurts – the strangle and the struggle.’