I’m writing my 14th article for artmejournal for the most renowned event of the year, February 14th, Valentine’s day! I have a thing for coincidental signs.

In this article, we will talk about literature’s most well-known lovers.

Patio and balcony of Juliet’s House in Italy

Starting off with the biggest cliché, Romeo and Juliet. It is a tragic play written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two lovers whose deaths ultimately reconciles their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare‘s most popular plays during his lifetime along with Hamlet.

The story as we all know ends with the deaths of both lovers. The moral of Romeo and Juliet is one of letting old family wounds go, and not letting emotions rule one’s life. But, did Romeo and Juliet really exist? The popular myth says yes, there is even a building named “Juliet’s house” in Verona, Italy. But the Veronese chronicles of the 13th century do not report any historical evidence of the sad story, which according to the literary sources took place in 1302.

I recently came across a very well know literary couple, Heloise and Abelard. Those actually existed in history unlike Romeo and Juliet.

Side-by-side resting places of Abelard and Heloise

Almost a thousand years ago, a teacher (Abelard) fell in love with his student (Heloise) and they began an affair. When Heloise bore a child, they were secretly married, but the Abelard was castrated by Heloise’s uncle. Heloise later became a nun while Abelard joined the monks. They retreated into separate monasteries and wrote to each other until parted by death. They were buried side-by-side in Paris’ renowned Pere Lachaise cemetery and were eternally united.

Henry Holiday, Dante and Beatrice, Oil on Canvas, 142.2×203.2cm, 1883

An interesting love story is that of Dante Alighieri and Beatrice. Specifically named as “Dante’s Beatrice” and muse of so many works. However, upon deep digging we realise that there isn’t proof of a strong relationship between both Dante and Beatrice. In fact, Dante seems to have met her twice only over a period of nine years!

I was about to conclude this article when I realized I almost forgot one of the Arabic literature’s most well-known couples. Qais and Laila. Qais was very much in love with Laila, but her parents refused their marriage and he spent a lifetime writing poems of love to her. Actually even when he was found dead in the desert, Qais’ last verse was about his love to Laila!

Is it just me or did all these stories end sadly? Regardless, Happy Valentine ’s Day everyone!

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All images courtesy indicated in captions.