Making snap chat look a tawdry disappointment in all things seduction, the discovery of a cache of actor Laurence Olivier’s steamy love letters to Vivien Leigh puts the mis-spelled, emoji-laden ‘sexts’ of our generation to shame.
Olivier wrote more than 200 letters to Gone With The Wind and Streetcar Named Desire star Vivien Leigh. The letters are currently held in London’s Victoria & Albert museum, and now made available to the public for the first time. The relationship between Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier was one of history’s greatest – and most torrid – love affairs.
They met in 1936 when they were both married to other people so had to carry on in secret (this is where the juiciest letters come from). They later married in 1940, and divorced in 1960.
While Olivier was not as delightfully dirty as author Henry James, whose letters to his wife would make your hair curl, he was still rather graphic.
Such as in this undated letter from 1938-1939:
“I woke up absolutely raging with desire for you my love… Oh dear God how I did want you. Perhaps you were stroking your darling self.”
And this one from 1939: “I am sitting naked with just my parts wrapped in your panties. My longing for you is so intense.”
Olivier was also quite the romantic, with a fondness for pet names. In another undated letter he wrote:
“I do really love and worship you, my jewelkin. You are in my thoughts and weighing so heavily in my heart all the time. I am only existing until I see you again and only just managing to do that.”
One year after divorcing Leigh – after their marriage crumbled under her mental health issues and affairs – Olivier married Joan Plowright, his wife until he died in 1989.
In a letter to Leigh in the 1960s, Olivier apologised for the “beastly” way his former wife found out about his new marriage, in the papers. In his final letter to Leigh, five weeks before her death in 1967, he signed off, “Sincerest love darling, your Larry.”