Love Letters of Great Men – for real

There is scene in the film Sex and the City that has sent its mostly female fans crowding into bookshops, only to emerge empty-handed. Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, is lying in bed next to her lover, Mr Big (Chris Noth), reading extracts from an interesting-looking book called Love Letters of Great Men.

But the trouble with the movie of Sex and the City is that so much of it is fake. For instance, the quotations that Carrie read out were real but the tome itself did not exist, much to the exasperation of booksellers inundated by hundreds of would-be customers wanting copies.

But now, a British firm, Macmillan, is plugging a gap in the market by issuing a new book with the same title as the fictitious one that so intrigued Carrie, and with the same wide choice of historical figures including Pliny, Henry VIII, Mozart, Napoleon, Prince Rainier III and Oscar Wilde.

In it, you can dip into letters from the poet John Keats, who died young and did not always get on well with women. In fact, he once complained in a letter to a male friend: "When I am among women I have evil thoughts, malice, spleen – I cannot speak or be silent – I am full of suspicions and therefore listen to nothing – I am in a hurry to be gone."

Many years after Keats was dead, The Times carried a bald, uninteresting obituary of a 65- year-old woman, Mrs Fanny Lindon. You cannot blame the obituary writer for not knowing who Mrs Lindon was, because she had kept the secret even from her husband. She was Fanny Brawne, the lover who had befriended Keats when he was penniless and had become his inspiration.

After his death, she watched his reputation grow while she kept his love letters stashed away for her children to read one day. In one, he wrote: "I love you the more in that I believe you have liked me for my own sake and for nothing else. I have met with women whom I really think would like to be married to a Poem and to be given away by a Novel."

Another featured poet is the notorious Lord Byron, who was the nearest 19th-century equivalent to a rock star. He had an infamous fling with a married woman, Lady Caroline Lamb, who famously warned that he was "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" – a warning ignored by Teresa, Countess Guiccioli.

She was a teenager married to a man more than 40 years her senior, met Byron in Italy and became the love of his life. "My destiny rests with you," he told her in one of his many letters. "And you are a woman, 17 years of age, and two out of a convent. I wish you had stayed there, with all my heart, or at least that I had never met you in your married state. But all this is too late. I love you, and you love me – at least you say so, and act as if you did so, which last is a great consolation at all events."

Love match: Who wooed who?

Can you match the couple to the quote?

A ......... Pliny to his wife, Calpurnia

B ......... Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn

C ......... Mozart to his wife, Constanze

D ......... Alexander Pope to his long- time lover, Martha Blount

E ......... Lloyd George to his mistress, Frances Stevenson

1 "While I was writing the last page, tear after tear fell on the paper. But I must cheer up – catch! – An astonishing number of kisses are flying about – The deuce! – I see a whole crowd of them! Ha! Ha! ... I've just caught three – They are delicious!"

2 "My darling Pussy. You might phone ... on Friday if you can come. Don't let Hankey see you. If Saturday impossible, what about Monday? Fondest love to my own."

3 "I stay awake more of the night thinking of you, and by day I find my feet carrying me (a true word, carrying) to your room at the times I usually visited you; then finding it empty I depart, as sick and sorrowful as a lover locked out."

4 "It is true you are not handsome, for you are a woman, and think you are not, but this good humour and tenderness for me has a charm that cannot be resisted."

5 "Wishing myself (specially an evening) in my sweetheart's arms, whose pretty dukkys I trust shortly to kiss. Written with the hand of him that was, is, and shall be yours by his will."

(Answers: 1 – C, 2 - E, 3 –A, 4 - D, 5 – B)

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible