I could just eat it up. A Romance writer’s snack.

When I was a toddler in Hawaii, my Godsister Bonnie would feed me M&Ms.  I would put handfuls in my mouth and just let the chocolate melt until it ran from the sides of my mouth. My love affair with snacks started when I was very young.

I still love my M&Ms but I have transferred my preference to the peanut ones. I don’t buy them anymore because I will eat the whole bag in one go and that isn’t good for the hips and belly.

But that doesn’t mean that whenever I see the yellow bag that my heart doesn’t soar and I feel quite giddy that I can’t stop myself from smiling. Sometimes, I just touch the bag to get a little thrill.

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Me as an M&M when my hair was blonde.

My family knows that I will go crazy for them and do not buy them. But with the birth of my grandnephew, that changed. He loves them and of course, I cannot steal candy for a four-year-old boy. That is just sinful. But my little man is a sweet boy and shares them with me but not the red ones because that is his favorite color.

But I don’t mind. I put them in my mouth and let them melt and I am in heaven.

Now it’s your turn. Share your favorite snack and why?

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How Do I Love Thee?

elizabeth-barrett-browningElizabeth Barrett Browning wrote those most famous words that are still whispered when our own words of love fail to be spoken.

I had read those words when I was a young girl who had never been in love and who was more of a tomboy than a young lady. But that one question had me wanting to feel a love like that and to one day have someone love me with such emotion that one simple question poured with that sentiment. Of course, I read the rest of the poem then I read it again. Then I had to learn more about the author named Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Elizabeth Barrett and I shared only two things in life but her story and poems have always stayed with me. Elizabeth was the eldest of twelve children. She was a smart child who read at four and started writing poetry at six years old. At 15, she fell seriously ill and the laudanum prescribe had adverse effects on her health.

In 1838, Elizabeth published her first collection of poems. Her most prolific years were between 1841 and 1844. These poems would change her life.

Her 1844 volume of poems were read by another writer named Robert Browning. Her words stirred him so that he had to write to Elizabeth. Robert wrote, “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett.”

Robert Browning was six years younger than Elizabeth and a poet in his own right as well a playwright. Though he did not have the success Elizabeth had, he had some promise. robert-browning-9228980-1-402

For nearly two years, they communicated through letters, falling in love in the pages until they finally met in May 1845.  Elizabeth couldn’t believe that this strong, worldly man loved her— a woman of frail health and older than himself. Their courtship was carried out in secret since Elizabeth knew her father would disapprove. During the two years of their courtship, Elizabeth wrote the most famous question though they were not yet published.

However, in 1846, Robert and Elizabeth married in a private ceremony at St. Maryleborne. And in September 1846, Robert spirited his wife away to the warmer climate of Italy and many believe that benefitted his bride and prolonged her life.  Mr. Barrett disinherited her as he did all his children who married without his consent. However, Elizabeth kept the Barrett surname as was required of all the children.

Now in Italy, Elizabeth suffered numerous miscarriages but in 1849 she gave birth to a son named Robert Barrett Browning or Pen Browning as he was known. Besides, their child, Elizabeth published Sonnets from the Portuguese.  This book republished her earlier poems and also included the poetry from their courtship. Elizabeth thought them too personal but Robert convinced her to include them and she included Sonnet 43.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old’s griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breadth,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

In that same year, Elizabeth was a candidate for poet laureate after Wordsworth’s death and was a rival for the position with Tennyson, who would claim it in the end.

On June 29, 1861, the love story ended with Elizabeth’s death in Florence. Robert continued to write but most believe his best years of his writings were years he shared with his wife. Robert died on 12 December 1889.

*Once a month I will be telling the love story of a true historical couple.

 

 

Love Letters

Chocolates taste great. Roses smell wonderful. But a love letter—oh! A love letter is a true gift and beautiful expression of love. We all wish to receive one and when you get them they will stay with you forever. I still have mine though I no longer have the man in my life.

So to celebrate Valentine’s day, here are three love letters from history.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn

In debating with myself the contents of your letters I have been put to a great agony; not knowing how to understand them, whether to my disadvantage as shown in some places, or to my advantage as in others. I beseech you now with all my heart definitely to let me know your whole mind as to the love between us; for necessity compels me to plague you for a reply, having been for more than a year now struck by the dart of love, and being uncertain either of failure or of finding a place in your heart and affection, which point has certainly kept me for some time from naming you my mistress, since if you only love me with an ordinary love the name is not appropriate to you, seeing that it stands for an uncommon position very remote from the ordinary; but if it pleases you to do the duty of a true, loyal mistress and friend, and to give yourself body and heart to me, who have been, and will be, your loyal servant (if your rigour does not forbid me), I promise you that not only the name will be due to you, but also to take you as my sole mistress, casting off all others than yourself out of mind and affection, and to serve you only; begging you to make me a complete reply to this my rude letter as to how far and in what I can trust; and if it does not please you to reply in writing, to let me know if some place where I can have it by word of mouth, the which place I will seek out with al my heart. No more for fear of wearying you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain your

HR

 

John Keats to Fanny Brawne

My sweet Girl,

I am living to day in yesterday: I was in complete fascination all day. I feel myself at your mercy. Write me ever so few lines and tell you (for me) you will never for ever be less kind to me than yesterday—. You dazzled me.There is nothing in the world so bright and delicate. When Brown came out with that seemingly true story against me last night, I felt it would be death to me if you had ever believed it – thought against any one else I could muster up my obstinacy. Before I knew Brown could disprove it was for the moment miserable. When shall we pass a day alone? I have had a thousand kisses, for which with my whole soul I thank love–but if you should deny me the thousand and first- ‘twould put me to the proof how a great misery I could live through. If you should every carry your threat yesterday into execution–believe me ’tis not my pride, my vanity or any petty passion would torment me–really ‘twould hurt my heart–I could not bear it. I have seen Mrs. Dilke this morning; she says she will come with me any fine day.

Ever yours

John Keats

Ah hertè mine!

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning To Robert Browning

My Own Beloved, if ever you should have reason to complain of me in things voluntary and possible, all other women would have a right to tread me underfoot, I should be so vile and utterly unworthy. There is my answer to what you write yesterday of wishing to be better to me…you! What could be better than lifting me from the ground and carrying me into life and the sunshine? I was yours rather by right than by gift (yet by gift also, my beloved!); for what you have saved and renewed is surely yours. All that I am, I owe you– if I enjoy anything now and henceforth, it is through you. You know this well. Even as I, from the beginning, knew that I had no power against you…or that, I had it was for your sake.

Dearest, in the emotion and confusion of yesterday morning, there was yet room in me for one thought which was not a feeling – for I thought that, of the many, many women who have stood where I stood, and to the same end, not one of them all perhaps, not one perhaps, since that building was a church, has had reasons strong as mine, for an absolute trust and devotion towards the man she married, –not one! And then I both thought and felt, that it was only just, for them…those women who were less happy…to have the affectionate sympathy and support and presence of their nearest relations, parent or sister…which failed to me,…needing it less through being happier!

 

 

 

A Royal Love Affair

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria is remembered as the stern-faced queen dressed in her widow weeds. But beneath her frown and black satins was a woman of passion. In 1836, Victoria was a seventeen-year-old girl who would one day sit upon the British throne. She had a sad, lonely childhood and her world consisted of the walls of Kensington Palace. Many crowns of Europe desired her little hand (she was five feet) but one man, her cousin Albert, captured her heart.

Albert Saxe-Coburg

Albert was the second son of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Princess Louise Saxe-Gotha-Attenburg. His parents divorced when he was young and from all accounts he never saw his mother again after her banishment from court. Much like his cousin, his childhood was a sad one as well.

The two great loves first met when Albert traveled to England with his father and his brother (both named Ernest) in 1836. Of her two cousins, Albert captured her attention. “Albert, who is just as tall as Ernest but stouter, is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression; which is most delightful c’est a la fois full of goodness and sweetness and very clever and intelligent.”

During his visit, details about Albert received more attention from her pen than his brother. She calls him dearest Albert and writes paragraphs about their time together. Victoria’s heart soared. As they were to depart, Victoria wrote,  “…I love Ernest and Albert more than them, oh yes, much more.” 

So much more that when she wrote her uncle she said, “I must thank you, my beloved Uncle, for the prospect of great happiness, you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert. Allow me, then, my dearest Uncle, to tell you how delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality, that could be desired to render me perfectly happy. He is so sensible, so kind, and so good, and so amiable too. He has besides, the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance, you can possibly see.”

Victoria’s life returned to one of isolation under her mother’s rule. On June 20, 1837, the King, William IV died. The crown now sat upon her head. But their uncle, the King of the Belgians desired this political match. But for Albert and Victoria, it was a love match first and foremost. But Albert had to wait for Victoria to make the move.

While Albert waited in his home country, Victoria enjoyed her independence and would not rush into marriage.  It took two years before Victoria sent for Albert. But upon being in his presence, the queen knew that Albert was the man for her. Five days after his arrival, Victoria proposed to Albert. Being Queen, she had to pop the question. She wrote “that it would make me too happy if he would consent to what I wanted (that he should marry me). We embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind and so affectionate.”

Albert returned to his home country to deal with his affairs. “I need not tell you that since we left, all my thoughts have been with you at Windsor, and that your image fills my whole soul. Even in my dreams I never imagined that I should find so much love on earth. How that moment shines for me when I was close to you, but with your hand in mine! Those days flew by so quickly, but our separation will fly equally so. Ernest wishes me to say a thousand nice things to you. With promises of unchanging love and devotion, your ever true Albert.”

On February 10, 1840, Albert and Victoria married at St.James’ Palace. “Albert repeated everything very distinctly. I felt so happy when he placed the ring on my finger. As soon as the Service was over, the Procession returned as it came, with the exception that dearest Albert led me out!…”  It was a grand affair with people crowding the streets and cheering the couple with the greatest of joy.  “Oh! this was the happiest day of my life!”

They were a passionate couple whose fights rang out and whose sexual passion resulted in nine children. Victoria hated being pregnant but she wouldn’t banish Albert from her bed. She loved her husband and the passion they shared. Albert became a great consort to the queen and added to the greatness of the Victorian Era.

On December 14, 1861, the two lovers were parted when Albert died. Victoria turned into the widow-weed wearing monarch we remember. The second longest reigning monarch of Great Britain passed on January 22, 1901, and was buried in her white dress and her wedding veil.