Furious Love: Read a Goodbye Letter From Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor

Oh love, you odious beast—you beautiful devil with your ability to make existence so fantastically sweet and then so ghastly awful. It’s your painful clutches that no one will ever have the ability to arm themselves against and it’s you who gives us the one universal pleasure of entwining our souls with another—for better or worse.

But in the case of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, their torrid love affair was fated for treacherous territory from the start. Although both married at the time they fell in love in 1962, it didn’t stop them from engaging a most passionate affair de’coeur, because when its true, love is impossible to thwart. However, after they eventually married,  naturally things turned sour and Taylor pressed on with divorcing from Burton. He responded with an impassioned letter, explaining:

You may rest assured that I will not have affairs with any other female. I shall gloom a lot and stare morosely into unimaginable distances and act a bit—probably on the stage—to keep me in booze and butter, but chiefly and above all I shall write. Not about you, I hasten to add. No Millerinski Me, with a double M. There are many other and ludicrous and human comedies to constitute my shroud.

The divorce would be finalized a year later and in just under two years time they’d be married again. But of course, that too fell apart. But marriage or not, Burton and Taylor’s romance and affinity for one another seemed to run deep in their blood, a cosmic connection to one another that couldn’t be severed—legal bindings aside. But now, thanks to Letters of Note you can read Burton’s pre-first divorce letter in its entirety below. Cold is cold as ice is ice.

___________________________________________________________________________

June 25, 1973

So My Lumps,

You’re off, by God!

I can barely believe it since I am so unaccustomed to anybody leaving me. But reflectively I wonder why nobody did so before. All I care about—honest to God—is that you are happy and I don’t much care who you’ll find happiness with. I mean as long as he’s a friendly bloke and treats you nice and kind. If he doesn’t I’ll come at him with a hammer and clinker. God’s eye may be on the sparrow but my eye will always be on you. Never forget your strange virtues. Never forget that underneath that veneer of raucous language is a remarkable and puritanical LADY. I am a smashing bore and why you’ve stuck by me so long is an indication of your loyalty. I shall miss you with passion and wild regret.

You may rest assured that I will not have affairs with any other female. I shall gloom a lot and stare morosely into unimaginable distances and act a bit—probably on the stage—to keep me in booze and butter, but chiefly and above all I shall write. Not about you, I hasten to add. No Millerinski Me, with a double M. There are many other and ludicrous and human comedies to constitute my shroud.

I’ll leave it to you to announce the parting of the ways while I shall never say or write one word except this valedictory note to you. Try and look after yourself. Much love. Don’t forget that you are probably the greatest actress in the world. I wish I could borrow a minute portion of your passion and commitment, but there you are—cold is cold as ice is ice.

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