Lover’s Notes: The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

How can email or a text message compare to receiving a handwritten letter from a lover?  Still feeling the Valentine’s Day spirit, we wanted to exhibit some famous “lover’s notes” written in a time when letters were the only form of communication a couple had to express their feelings.

While there are many examples of famous love letters in history, none can quite compare to the extensive written exchanges between the Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning.  No couple has ever written of unconditional love more eloquently or sincerely.  Indeed, theirs was one of the most legendary of literary love affairs.

“I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett …”  begins the first letter to Elizabeth Barrett from Robert Browning, and so began the first of 573 love letters exchanged between the two poets over their long courtship and marriage.

Though transcriptions of their correspondence have been published in the past, the handwritten letters could be seen only at Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Mass. where the collection has been kept since 1930.

Yet starting just yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, their famous love letters were made available online.  Now,  readers can view the letters just as they were written — complete with creased paper and fading ink.

The digitization project is a collaboration between Wellesley and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which houses the world’s largest collection of books, letters and other items related to the Brownings.

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