With LoveLetters of love, loss & longing

Convention suggests a love letter should be handwritten, sent from one absent lover to another, a physical token that brings to mind the absent writer’s voice, their touch, their scent. But love letters can take different forms. Wills, other state records and letters written to government officials can all be read as expressions of different types of love – including love that has been criminalised, unconsummated or cut short.

The National Archives holds an untold number of love letters, scattered throughout its collection, in these many different forms. It is impossible to know how many other letters have disappeared, but the letters that have survived offer readers brief glimpses into the hidden worlds and loves of their writers over the past 500 years.

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"Do not trouble yourself to answer my letters but forget not to love me"

Endymion Porter to his wife Olive, 1621

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Please note that the ideas and terms contained in these records reflect the attitudes and language of their authors and the period in which the records were created. Some would now be considered offensive.

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