A series of letters written by the wife of a famous poet have been discovered in his private archive, revealing a rare love affair that would last more than two centuries.
The letters, dating from 1755 to 1765, were among the earliest written by a man in England.
The poem “Lonely Man” is set in an isolated English village where the villagers are unable to get married, despite the best efforts of a priest, and in which a young man named Jack is trying to find love.
“If you could only hear my voice,” Jack wrote, “you would find me alone and sweet.
But, alas, I can’t hear you now.”
The letters, which date from 1758 to 1760, are part of the Manuscripts of William Shakespeare, the only surviving copy of the original poem, and are thought to be the first written correspondence between Jack and his wife Elizabeth.
They were written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who was an important source of inspiration for the work of the great English novelist.
The letters are a masterpiece of literary criticism, with Jack and Elizabeth both writing in different styles.
Elizabeth’s style, called the “fantastic” style, is characteristic of the period, with the two writing often together and at times using the same words.
Jack’s style is described as “the classic”.
Jack’s letters, however, are filled with humour, affectionate and witty banter, and often include humorous references to the Queen.
Jack, who died in 1786, was also a literary icon, and his work became a popular source of historical information, often being referenced in films and on TV.
In the letter he wrote to his wife, Jack wrote: “You, my dear, are the sweetest woman I ever knew.
You are always in the shade, and you never make a move on me.
You never do anything for me.
Your eyes are as white as the moon.”
The first recorded use of the phrase “white as the moons” is in Shakespeare’s “Henry V” where it appears as a joke.
Elizabeth’s letters to Jack were written in English and in Latin, with English being the only language spoken at the time.
The poet was also writing in French, though he was unable to write English.
In the letters, Jack, who had an impressive collection of poems and plays, described himself as “a kind, gentle, honest, sensible, good-natured, well-mannered, witty, intelligent and full of love.”
He wrote to Jack that he was “very happy to see you and your family, but that I must have you to be a good friend and be able to read and understand the English language.”
The poem was originally written by William Blake, who is thought to have had the idea for the title from an incident in which he and Elizabeth were dining at a restaurant in London.
Blake later said the poem was inspired by the “white man” character of the poem.
Blake also wrote a poem in Latin titled “Il d’Amour de la Grande Chambre”.
In one of his poems, titled “La Grande Chambray”, Blake said: “The woman of my dreams, in whose eyes I never fail to be dazzled by your beauty and her charm.”
In 1804, William Shakespeare wrote an adaptation of the “White Man’s Burden” by James Joyce, which included the words “Love is sweet”.
The play was written to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday and was about two brothers who are both poor and in debt.
It was originally called “The Winter’s Tale” and is thought by many to be one of the best plays of the Victorian era.