Famous Names in Love History

Ah, l’amour! Love! Western culture is obsessed with love stories, from forbidden love to intense friendships that redefine our ideas of the forms love may take. Books, television, and cinema — even music — have taken advantage of the many stock love story formulas out there, but those story plots didn’t come out of thin air. Someone had to go through it first!

Here are some famous names in love history that have paved the way for our love obsession.

Vatsyayana

The author of the well-known Kama Sutra, Vatsyayana, most likely led a celibate life. The Kama Sutra is a tribute to the Indian God of Love, Kama, and is a compilation of Vatsyayana’s notes on how to achieve a fulfilling relationship. The book offers wisdom on marriage and love, complete with advice and sexual instruction.

Heloise and Abelard

Heloise and Abelard’s story begins somewhere between the 11th or 12th centuries. Theologian and philosopher Abelard was Heloise’s Greek and Latin tutor. He quickly fell in love with her intellect and fascination with the Classic languages. He was also 20 years her senior. Their friendship evolved into a torrid affair. She became pregnant with his baby, and the two secretly married.

Unfortunately, her uncle, the Canon of Notre Dame Fullburt, found out. As a result, Heloise was sent to a convent, and Abelard was castrated. The two separated lovers wrote letters to each other, which have since been shared with the world.

Cleopatra and Marc Antony

Egyptian queen Cleopatra and Roman general Marc Antony were a power couple. The two carried on a wild, playful affair, as Egypt grew in power in the face of the Roman Empire. They had two children together, despite Antony’s marriage to another woman in Rome.

While in battle, Antony was given false information that Cleopatra died. She staged a fake suicide as part of a political move. Devastated, he attempted to kill himself, but his death was not immediate. When Cleopatra saw the result of this, she took her own life as well.

Oscar Wilde

Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, was known as a poetically passionate man. In 1891, Wilde met his muse and lover Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, who served as the real-life inspiration for Wilde’s famous work, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Douglas was the recipient of incredible love letters written by Wilde, expressing his devotion to the man.

In 1895, Wilde was imprisoned for his homosexuality, which was considered a crime in England at the time. He was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor, fell into massive amounts of debt, and failing health.

Bonnie and Clyde

Love isn’t always flowers and kisses — sometimes it’s bullets and bank robberies. From 1932-1934, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were the United State’s most infamous outlaw couple. They met at a party one night as two poor kids who wanted a glamorous and exciting life.

Even though Bonnie’s mother begged her not to see Clyde after he was arrested for car theft, she stayed with him. The couple was killed in a police ambush in 1934. Though they died next to each other, Bonnie’s mother made sure that her daughter was buried separately from Clyde.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

One of the most famous relationships of the 20th century was also one of the most imperfect. The relationship between painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera was fraught with affairs and terrible fights. Diego then had an affair with Frida’s sister, which led to a four-year divorce. Frida and Diego kept coming back to one another, however, despite the infidelity and heartbreak.

The relationship between the two Mexican artists is one of love, in all its messiness. They shared closeness, art, and a very complicated version of wanting the other person to be happy.

Richard and Mildred Loving

Richard and Mildred Loving are known for their Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia. In 1958, they were arrested by Virginia police for violating the Racial Integrity Act of 1942. This act forbade interracial marriage. In order to avoid prison time, the couple was essentially exiled from the state.

The Lovings brought their case to the Supreme Court in 1963, and the judges ruled in their favor. They moved back to Virginia and continued to live their lives without fear of being arrested for, as Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

What is Love?

The names on this list certainly prove that love is not easy, but it can be rewarding. Though their names conjure up stories of trial and tribulation, we can at least use them to see those fictional happy endings a bit more realistically.


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SOURCES: U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION + USER SUBMISSIONS
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