Romance has played a pivotal role in large swathes of British literature since the Middle Ages and it continues to hold a place in our somewhat cynical modern world. The small selection of romantic quotes below span more than six centuries but remain as relevant today as the moment they were penned.
“The sweetness of love is short-lived, but the pain endures.”
Le Morte Darthur (The Death of Arthur) – Sir Thomas Malory (1415-1471) created a compilation of Arthurian Legends based upon existing stories including a late 14th century poem. There is a sole surviving manuscript of Le Morte Darthur , known as the Winchester manuscript, and this is now housed at the British Library. It’s this very same manuscript that was used by William Caxton to create the printed edition of 1485. The novel is also important for being the first to be written in English.
“The sight of lovers feedeth those in love.”
As You Like It – Act 3, Scene 4 – William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
“One hour of right down love is worth an age of dully living on.”
The Rover – Aphra Behn (1640-1689) was one of the first English women to earn her living by writing.
“In case you ever foolishly forget: I am never not thinking of you.”
Selected Diaries (1915-1941) – Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is considered to be the most important modernist author.
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
Emma (1815) – Jane Austen (1775-1817)
“Soul meets soul on lovers lips.”
Prometheus Unbound (1820) – Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) This four act lyrical drama is considered to be his masterpiece.
“ ‘You are of such value to me,’ he cried, in a whirl of hot, passionate words, ‘that all else become nought. You are my heart, my life, my one and only thought.’”
The White Company: Chapter 13 (1891) – Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930) is best known for his Sherlock Holmes series. The White Company is a relatively unknown novel set during the Hundred Years’ War.
“Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love…”
Hamlet – William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
“I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.”
Great Expectations (1861) – Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
“Love seeketh not itself to please, /Nor for itself hath any care,/But for another gives its ease,/And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”
The Clod And The Pebble – William Blake (1757-1827) was a key figure in the English Romantic Movement and was also a prolific artist and engraver.
“Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight, for I ne’er saw beauty till this night.”
Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
Elegy IX: The Autumnal – John Donne (1572-1631)
“If music be the food of love, play on.”
Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
Wuthering Heights (1847) – The only completed novel by Emily Brontë and published under her pseudonym Ellis Bell.
“To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company.”
Jayne Eyre – Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.”
Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen (1715-1817)
“But to see her was to love her, Love but her, and love forever…”
Ae Fond Kiss, And then we Sever – Robert Burns (1759-1796) is widely known as the national poet of Scotland and a pioneer of Romanticism.
“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?”
Adam Bede (1859) – George Eliot (1819-1880) was the nom de plume of Mary Ann Evans.
“It is better to love wisely, no doubt; but to love foolishly is better than not to be able to love at all.”
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)
“Is is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”
Sense and Sensibility (1811) – Jane Austen (1775-1817)
“I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart.”
The Amber Spyglass (final book in His Dark Materials Trilogy, 2000) – Phillip Pullman (b.1946)