Love is a universal experience not limited to the poets and romantic figureheads of history. It can, however, feel strange to see words demonstrating the power of love and the depth of feeling coming from the mouths of historical figures you don’t normally associate with romance or affection. Share these quotes with the people you love, and perhaps they’ll help you view these historical figures in different lights.
World-famous silent film star Charlie Chaplin was known more for comedy and action than romance. However, he described himself as “a tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure” in his autobiography. Perhaps the comedic star was more suave than his on-screen persona let on.
As the master of horror, Stephen King is responsible for countless nightmares due to his many books and the TV and movie productions based on his works. Horror is not all he has to offer the world, though. In a measure of his wit, King once said, “French is the language that turns dirt into romance.” French, like many of the Romance languages, has long had an association with sounding poetic and beautiful. In King’s estimation, it can even put a gloss on something vulgar to make it more romantic.
Marilyn may have romanced and been romanced on the silver screen time and again, but her personal history with relationships was more tragic and fleeting. One time she explained, “Experts on romance say for a happy marriage there has to be more than a passionate love. For a lasting union, they insist, there must be a genuine liking for each other. Which, in my book, is a good definition for friendship.” To Monroe, romance was synonymous with passion and she couldn’t see herself in a marriage without it.
There are many Abraham Lincoln quotes about freedom and politics that have become ingrained in our culture. However, this president was also a bit of a romantic at heart. This might seem especially strange considering how odd many people found the coupling of tall and skinny Abraham Lincoln and his short and dowdy wife Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as the rumors of homosexuality that have been discussed in the years since his death. Still, Lincoln once said, “My wife is as handsome as when she was a girl, and I… fell in love with her; and what is more, I have never fallen out.”
Ancient Chinese philosopher Kong Qiu, or “Confucius,” wrote on many subjects. This teacher, politician, and editor was responsible for some of the earliest writings of human history in the sixth century BCE. While not known for being a romantic, his most famous quotes on love are “Can there be a love which does not make demands on its object?” and “To love a thing means wanting it to live.” These almost seem at odds with one another, first observing that people expect things from the objects of their affection and then also defining love as letting people live freely.
The famous virgin queen of England, Elizabeth I famously never married and never had children, effectively ending the reign of the Tudor household on the English throne. Third in line to the throne after her famously fickle father, Henry VIII, died with six wives to his name, Elizabeth’s choice to remain unmarried might have been partially a reaction to her father’s weakness when it came to love, partially a fear of dying in childbirth, and partially because she didn’t expect to become sovereign. However, she had her own explanation. Uninterested in a political match, she said, “I do not want a husband who honors me as a queen, if he does not love me as a woman.”
Not every unexpected quote is explicitly romantic in nature – but one from Napoleon does demonstrate an unexpected form of love from the military dictator. “Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet, here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog.” Napoleon spoke these words when he came across a dog mourning beside the dead body of its owner, and the love between pet and master touched him.
Almost every historical figure you’re familiar with experienced love in some form, even if they became famous for something much different than what you associate with love and affection. Become inspired by love found in unexpected places. Write your own tribute to romance, familial love, or love of another kind altogether.