The best love story

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15 Greatest Love Stories From History That’ll Leave You Swooning

Romance has always been the flagbearer of young emotions. Sadly, today the intensity of the feeling has, by and large, been reduced to just being physical. Wake up guys; there’s more to a relationship than simply sleeping together (nothing wrong with that though, if that’s what you’re into).

Nonetheless, certain love stories are so remarkable and influential; they inspire books and art for posterity. Sometimes the people themselves are already notable; other times, they’re ordinary in every other way, but their bond speaks volumes about extraordinary love.

So, here’s our list of the most epic love stories dating back to times when the only tinder available was the town saloon and text messages were letters that took ages to be delivered. Read on to acknowledge the lovebirds of good old times and keep a box of tissues handy, cause trust us, you’re gonna need them.

We promise your perception of love and romance would change dramatically with these evergreen and swoon-worthy love stories that totally gave us some epic #couplegoals!

10 Greatest Love Stories in History

The stories of lovers who believed in each other and their love even if the whole world was against them still inspire and often, make us sad. A closer investigation of the greatest love stories in history reveals that many of the most famous lovers met a tragic end. They did, however, show us that true love is stronger than anything else in the world. And it is the love that they had we are all hopping to find someday. Of course, with a happier ending.

Paris and Helen

According to Greek mythology, the love between Paris and Helen provoked the downfall of Troy. The story begins with the Trojan prince Paris being chosen to decide which of three goddesses – Hera, Athena and Aphrodite – is the fairest. He chose Aphrodite because in return she promised him the most beautiful woman in the world. And the most beautiful woman was Helen of Sparta who, however, was married to King Menelaus. A few years later, Paris went to Sparta and took Helen to Troy by which he triggered the Trojan War. Paris was mortally wounded during the fall of Troy, while Helen returned to her husband in Sparta.

Orpheus and Eurydice

The ancient Greek mythological hero Orpheus is best known for his beautiful music which charmed everyone, even the stones and wild beasts. But he is also known for his deep love for his wife Eurydice. When she died from a snake bite, Orpheus decided to go to the Underworld and bring her back. With his music, he charmed the gods of the Hades and they allowed him to take Eurydice back with him. But he was told he must not look back until they escape the Underworld. When they reached the portals of Hades, Orpheus turned back to see if Eurydice is following him and she immediately disappeared back in the world of the dead.

Cleopatra and Mark Antony

The love between the Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra and Mark Antony went into history for their tragic end. Both committed suicide after they were defeated by the Romans under Octavian (the later Augustus) although Cleopatra hesitated. After Mark Antony’s suicide (he stabbed himself after receiving a false news that his lover was dead), Cleopatra tried to negotiate with Octavian. According to most sources, she killed herself by inducing an asp to bite her when she realized that she cannot “charm” Octavian. Cleopatra and Mark Antony are said to be buried together but the location of their tomb remains a mystery.

Tristan and Iseult

Love story of Tristan and Iseult has been popularized in the 12th century France. It is thought to be inspired by an older Celtic legend. There are several versions of the story about the adulterous lovers but they all more or less follow the same outline. Tristan and Iseult who is supposed to marry Tristan’s uncle King Mark ingest a love potion and fell madly in love on their way to Cornwall. Iseult marries King Mark but the love potion makes the lovers unable to resist each other. They pursue their affair until they are finally caught by Iseult’s husband. They manage to escape death but Iseult is forced to return to Mark. Tristan leaves Cornwall and marries another woman named Iseult. But when he is mortally wounded by a poison lance, he calls for his only true love. The story ends with Tristan dying of despair, convinced that Iseult does not want to come to him, while Iseult dies of grief after finding her lover dead.

Lancelot and Guinevere

The story of Lancelot and Guinevere is a part of the Arthurian legend. It is thought to have been inspired or influenced by that of Tristan and Iseult. Just like the latter, Lancelot and Guinevere are adulterous lovers. Guinevere is married to King Arthur who, just like King Mark does not suspect anything at first. He eventually finds out about his wife being unfaithful to him with one of his most loyal knights. The Knights of the Round Table split into two groups, supporting either Arthur or Lancelot. After several fierce battles between the two men, Guinevere returns to King Arthur but the destruction of the Round Table enables Mordred to challenge Arthur. The legendary king kills his rival but he is mortally wounded. Guinevere, devastated for being responsible for the destruction of the Round Table and subsequent Arthur’s downfall enters a convent. Lancelot enters a hermitage and eventually becomes a priest. Both spend the rest of their lives in repentance.

Romeo and Juliet

Probably the most famous love story of all was written by the celebrated English poet and playwright William Shakespeare sometime in the 1590s. Shakespeare’s story of the tragic love between Romeo and Juliet is probably based on Arthur Brooke’s poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet that was published in the 1560s. The latter is believed to be an English translation of a novella of Italian writer Matteo Bandello. But even his Romeo and Juliet are not original. The story reveals a major influence of ancient tragic love stories, most notably of the Roman story of Pyramus and Thisbe whose families despise each other and prevent the lovers to be together. Just like Pyramus kills himself, falsely believing that Thisbe is dead, Romeo also commits suicide for mistakenly believing that Juliet is dead. Thisbe follows her lover in death upon discovering his dead body which is exactly what Juliet does when she finds Romeo dead. Both Thisbe and Juliet stab themselves but Romeo, unlike Pyreus who stabs himself with his sword, drinks a poison.

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

Their names may largely be unfamiliar to most people in the West but their love produced a monument that is famous all over the world – Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal were Mughal Royal couple who shared a loving marriage until Mumtaz died while giving birth to their 14th child. Shah Jahan was devastated by his wife’s death and plunged into deep grief that affected him both emotionally and physically. But his grief inspired him to build one of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces to serve as the final resting place of his beloved wife. Shortly after completing Taj Mahal, Shah got ill and was overthrown by his eldest son. He spent the rest of his life in house arrest and was buried next to his wife. The legend has it that he planned to build an exact copy of Taj Mahal in black marble on the opposite bank of the river Yamuna but the works never started.

Napoleon and Josephine

The relationship between Napoleon and Josephine, a six years older widow with two children was turbulent from the very start. Only two days after their wedding day, Napoleon left on a military campaign in Italy. Josephine who stayed behind in Paris soon started an affair with lieutenant Hippolyte Charles. Napoleon was infuriated when he found out about his wife’s infidelity and soon started an affair on his own. No further Josephine’s affairs have been recorded but Napoleon’s love for Josephine was no longer the same. And when it became clear that Josephine is unable to have children, Napoleon decided to divorce her. He thereafter married Marie-Louise of Austria who gave birth to the long-awaited heir. But despite Josephine’s infidelity, divorce and remarriage, Napoleon’s last words are said to be “France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Josephine.”

Alexander I of Serbia and Draga Mašin

The love between Alexander I of Serbia and Draga Mašin appears to had been stronger than themselves. The relationship between the young King and 12 years older widow and lady-in-waiting to his mother caused an outrage in the country. But nothing could stop Alexander from marrying Draga and making her queen, not even his mother who was banished from the country for opposing the marriage. Eventually, the opposition slightly subsided but the situation worsened rapidly for the royal couple after the false pregnancy scandal. The latter seriously undermined the country’s international reputation and infuriated a group of military officers who began to conspire against the royal couple. And when rumors appeared that one of the Queen’s unpopular brothers will be proclaimed the heir to the throne, the conspirators decided to take action. In 1903, a group of military officers invaded the Royal Palace and assassinated the couple.

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde, lovers and criminals who traveled the Central United States during the Great Depression were not considered as romantic back then as they are today. Their gang was responsible for at least nine police officer and several civilian deaths. It is unsure how the couple met but it is thought that it was love at a first sight. When Bonnie and Clyde met (probably in 1930), the latter already had a criminal record but that obviously did not bother Bonnie. She decided to join him in his criminal undertakings and stayed with him until the very end. They were ambushed by the police in Bienville Parish, Louisiana in 1934 and killed. The couple wanted to be buried together but Bonnie’s family did not allow it.

10 real-life love stories that’ll grab you by the heart, from Storycorps

Inside a StoryCorps recording booth, everyday people can sit down to interview someone who matters to them. Almost all of these interviews touch on the great themes of human existence — and there’s no question that the greatest of these themes is love.

It’s been eleven years since I founded Storycorps, and I am still regularly astonished by the beautiful love stories that spin out of our recording booth week after week. They speak to the enduring and redemptive power of love. They brim with life lessons. They give me hope. Here are ten of my favorite Storycorps love stories that may just do the same for you.

  1. From topless bar to biology lab: Susan and Philip McClinton. An unlikely and amazing love story that takes place in Wyoming: Two ninth grade dropouts — a bouncer and an amateur stripper — meet in a topless bar. They fall in love and realize they have a shared passion for science, so they help each other achieve their dream of becoming biologists. In this interview, they recall meeting in the fall of the 1972. The winning pick-up line? “I am going to take you rattlesnake hunting.”
  2. Loss of memory brings beauty too: Gweneviere Mann and Yasir Salem. A story about love, memory loss and a marathon. Gweneviere suffered a stroke during an operation in 2008, and now lives without short-term memory. In this interview, she and her boyfriend talk about how this works — for better and worse. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Yasir and Gwen at a number of StoryCorps events and they really are as remarkable as they sound. They got married in Austin this past summer, and played this animation of their interview at the wedding.
  3. Double trouble: Hunny Feller + Elliot Reiken, and Bunny Feller + Danny Reiken. This is what happens when identical twin sisters meet and marry identical twin brothers. But while they had a double wedding, there is nothing interchangeable about these pairs. As Hunny says to her husband Elliot in this interview, “Thank you for being you, Elliot. You made my life complete.”
  4. A heartbreaking 9/11 love story: Beverly Eckert and Sean Rooney. Beverly remembers her husband, Sean, who was killed on September 11th, 2001. Shortly after recording this interview in 2009, Beverly herself was killed in a plane crash — she was flying to Buffalo to be with her family on what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday.
  5. A tale of two grandmas: MJ Seide and Genna Alperin. MJ and her granddaughter, Genna, have an unusual relationship: they are poker partners and like to go on rollercoasters together. In this interview, MJ describes meeting Genna’s biological grandmother for the first time and realizing instantly that she was her “soulmate.” “This is the first time that we’ve ever talked about the fact that I’m gay,” says MJ. “I guess what I wanna ask you is: Does it embarrass you to have a gay grandma?” Genna’s response is so lovely.
  6. Love beyond gender: Blue Bauer and Shane Fairchild. This is a broadcast from just a few weeks ago: Shane, a transgender man, remembers his wife, Blue, a transgender woman in St. Louis. RIP Blue — what a woman, what a character, what a spirit!
  7. Tall in his wheelchair: Colleen Kelly Starkloff and Max Starkloff. Another story from a recent broadcast: Colleen gives a moving portrait of her husband Max, who was in a car accident that left him quadriplegic in his early 20s. Colleen met him when she worked at a nursing home. “Here comes this guy into my office. Drop dead gorgeous. Max was six feet five, sat very tall in his wheelchair,” she says. “I was done. Right then and there.” As she tells their daughter, Meaghan Starkloff Breitenstein, about falling in love, Colleen says, “Your dad was a giant.”
  8. A Brooklyn love story: Andrea and Jay McNight. In this story, young love blossoms on a Brooklyn street corner more than a half century ago. When Jay and friends were out singing, he spotted Andrea and said: “I’m going to marry her.” His friend’s response? “You’re going to jail.” But really, how could anyone resist that voice?
  9. Our most beloved love story ever: Annie and Danny Perasa. Danny, a clerk in an Off Track Betting office, and Annie, a nurse, remember their life together — from their first date to Danny’s final days with terminal cancer. Watch their story in glorious technicolor.
  10. Six phrases for a successful relationship: Vivian and Leroy A. Morgan. Finally, a little written wisdom from our book, All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. Here is what Leroy A. Morgan had to say about his late wife, Vivian: “My wife and I were in Philadelphia, and we saw a sign that said ‘SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE.’ I will never forget it: It had six points to always say to your wife or husband. The first one was: YOU LOOK GREAT. The second one was: CAN I HELP? The third one was: LET’S EAT OUT. The fourth one was: I WAS WRONG. The fifth one was: I AM SORRY. But the last and most important one was: I LOVE YOU. That was it. There were six statements, and it said if you follow that, you’ll have a successful marriage. So we followed it, and we did have a successful marriage. It lasted fifty three years, two months, and five days. It’s been rough, but every morning when I wake up she’s included in my prayers and I talk to her every night when I go to bed. She was something. One thing: If they ever let me in those pearly gates, I’m going to walk all over God’s heaven until I find that girl. And the first thing I’m going to do is ask her if she would marry me, and do it all over again.”

Dave Isay is the founder of StoryCorps, and the winner of the 2015 TED Prize. On March 17, at the TED2015 conference, watch as he shares an audacious wish on behalf of StoryCorps. This session will be livestreamed for free.

About the author

Dave Isay is the founder of StoryCorps, and the 2015 TED Prize winner.

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‘Love Story’ actors return to Harvard 45 years later

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Actors Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal rolled onto the Harvard campus Monday in an antique convertible similar to the one used in “Love Story” and reminisced about the film that made them household names nearly half a century ago.

Both actors said in a discussion with students that the movie, which was partly shot on campus, has special meaning now that they’re in their 70s and in twilight of their careers.

They are co-stars in a national tour of the play “Love Letters,” which has a one-week run in Boston starting Tuesday.

MacGraw said being at Harvard brought back fond memories that few of her subsequent experiences in film ever matched.

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“It was a wonderful, wonderful adventure that was followed by some pretty dramatic stuff in my private life,” she said.

MacGraw, who now lives in New Mexico, walked away from acting in the years after her breakout role and has written about her struggles with addiction.

O’Neal noted cancer, like in the movie, played a big part in his life. He recently battled leukemia, which he says is now in remission. He also alluded to the 2009 death of his longtime companion, actress Farrah Fawcett, who died of cancer in 2009.

“Love Story” was about a wealthy Harvard student who marries a less wealthy student over his parents’ objections. But the girl is diagnosed with leukemia and dies.

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It was a huge box office success that received seven Academy Award nominations and gave pop culture an oft-quoted line: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Both actors admitted they haven’t seen the movie in years. They also said they had a crush on each other during filming, though both were married at the time.

“Ryan and I clicked immediately,” said MacGraw. “We just had a chemistry.”

“Love Story” also has a special place in Harvard tradition.

When the arts journalist and moderator Alicia Anstead asked the 70 or so people in attendance how many had seen the 1970 film, nearly every hand in the room shot up.

Alana Davitt, a freshman from Virginia, said the film is iconic, even for students of her generation.

She noted that the university’s Crimson Key Society, a student group, hosts a screening of the movie each year as a sort of rite of passage for incoming freshman.

Some students even wore black “Camp Tuckahoe” T-shirts, a reference to the summer camp where MacGraw’s character in “Love Story” worked as a counselor.

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The two actors said “Love Letters” also has special meaning for them. The play is about two people who take very different paths in life but still maintain contact through notes, cards and letters for more than 50 years.

The play, which includes performances in Los Angeles, Detroit, Dallas and Baltimore, will have its Boston run at Citi Shubert Theatre.

“I’m at the age of the woman that this is written about, and my life experience includes some of those experiences,” MacGraw said. “This is a life that makes sense to me. Therefore it’s fun.”

It may be easy to poke fun at Love Story, the 1970 film starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal as star-crossed lovers from different social stratas. But it’s harder not to cry during the movie’s tragic final scenes—just try. We challenge you.

The movie may be a tearjerker with some endearingly dated dialogue, but it also remains beguiling—and very stylish. Upon its 1970 premiere, Love Story became a runaway international hit; audiences around the globe sobbed in darkened theaters. The Academy bestowed its approval: seven nominations, including best actor and actress noms for MacGraw and O’Neal. MacGraw, until then a virtual unknown with one starter film under her belt, became an icon of her generation.

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This seems somehow appropriate, a favor returned in kind: after all, Love Story had been MacGraw’s own labor of love: She had championed the script, even after it had been rejected all over Hollywood. It was picked up by Paramount chief Robert Evans, whom MacGraw would later marry.

This was a little movie, not a big risk. If it didn’t work and I was no good in it, it would be no big deal for the studio.

Prolific director Arthur Hiller, who died this month at the age of 92, signed on to direct. Hiller had, Evans later recalled, required persuading to take on Love Story, and ultimately agreed to squeeze the project in between two other films. Ironically, it later earned him an Oscar nod and became his best-known work. (It also, Evans says, made Hiller “a millionare many, many times over,” certainly a nice perk.)

Most starlets endure trials-by-fire in Hollywood, but with Love Story as a vehicle, MacGraw had a gilded ascent, protected and championed by Evans and Hiller, to whom MacGraw remained close until his death. Below, she shares her recollections of the film’s director, its producer and stars, and how it changed all of their lives forever.

O’Neill, MacGraw, and Hiller on the set of ‘Love Story’. Getty Images

What was your first reaction to Love Story?

AM: When I first read the script, I was deeply affected by it. I thought, Why am I crying? It’s so simplistic, and my film tastes are, well, intense, let’s put it that way. So, I read it again, and was equally affected. At the time, I still owed Paramount a movie, so I called my agent, Marty Davidson, and said, “Couldn’t you get this to be the movie?”

Do you remember your first meeting with Arthur Hiller?

AM: I can’t forget it. I was summoned by Bob Evans, head of production at Paramount, to come out to his Beverly Hills house to meet the director of the Alan Arkin film Popi. We had a meeting in that famous screening room, which later burned down. We all watched Popi, and we liked each other—and so I got the job. Part of it was because Love Story would be an inexpensive movie to make; from their point of view, this was a little movie, not a big risk. If it didn’t work and I was no good in it, it would be no big deal for the studio.

How was the working relationship with Hiller?

AM: All I knew at first was that I liked him and respected him, and then I grew to adore him. Whatever Arthur asked of me, I did to the best of my ability. And I was blessed to be in such safe hands. Every piece of that experience was protected.

He wasn’t casual about his work in any way—you knew exactly what he wanted you to do. He was meticulous. Like with the harpsichord shot, which he planned months earlier.

What about that shot required such months-long planning?

AM: There’s a shot when Jenny is playing harpsichord at a little recital, and Ryan is looking at her, almost overcome with pride. We could have shot someone else’s hands playing and cut away to Ryan, but Arthur didn’t want to fake the shot. So off I went to see Laura Fratti in a studio at Carnegie Hall, with two little couches covered in damask and heavy plastic, a tiny icebox filled with a rabbit coat, a baby grand, and a harpsichord. We worked on Bach, and I managed to learn. Although I couldn’t do it now if you paid me a fortune.

Tell us a few memorable moments from the filming.

AM: Well, when I went in to shoot my death scene, I went into to make-up, and they looked at me and just sent me right onto the set. The subtext was: “You look horrendous without makeup and are death-scene ready.”

There were so many other moments, but I loved when Ryan and I were running around in the snow, playing like kids in Central Park. I had recently moved to Los Angeles, but I’m from New York, and I just loved being there in winter. It just felt so New York.

What made the movie such a mega-hit? Its seismic success wasn’t anticipated by Hollywood, or even its principals.

AM: We didn’t know that it was going to be such a big deal, although at certain points while we were filming, we’d look up and see the crew crying. But still, none of us thought it was going to be what it turned out to be. Especially me: I was an unknown; Ryan was a TV star; there was no budget.

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Bob Evans was a major part of the reason Love Story worked. He suggested to Eric Segal that he make it into a book, which he did and it went onto all sorts of bestseller lists. So, there was a huge audience already for the movie.

But the story itself just touched people. It continues to stun me that it does.

When was the last time you saw the film?

AM: Oh, gosh, years ago. I honestly can’t remember. I’m not comfortable watching myself on film; I’m not one of those actresses who has a houseful of pictures of myself.

But you have seen it, yes? Some actors never watch their own movies.

AM: Yes, of course; especially when it opened in 1970. We had major screenings: the December opening in New York City, and then we went afterward in January for the Queen Mother’s charity gala in London, and the Madame Pompidou’s big gala, and we had to sit on the audience each time. I’ve seen it since, but usually by accidently coming across it on TV. You know, it’s too bad we didn’t get royalties, because Love Story is on all the time.

Tell us your thoughts on the theme song, “Love Story (Where Do I Begin?).”

AM: I’ve heard it sung in every language, but I love it less sung than played instrumentally. It’s a beautiful melody. I still hear it all the time. For instance, I help a friend at our American Indian market here at a street market, and there in the background, came that song. You just smile quietly. And people associate it with me: When I walk into a restaurant and whoever is playing the piano that night plays it.

Let’s talk about the film’s most famous line, uttered by your character, Jenny: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Do you believe this?

AM: God, no. That moment absolutely shows that I didn’t know anything about acting; any more seasoned actress would have said, “What? This is rubbish.” But there I was, crying away in Boston. I think it’s the opposite. If you’ve done something frightful to someone you love, you don’t just say you’re sorry; you change your behavior.

I think it’s the opposite. If you’ve done something frightful to someone you love, you don’t just say you’re sorry; you change your behavior.

Is Love Story a feminist film? I mean, there are mixed messages. Your character Jenny is strong and educated and talented, but also opts out of a possibly brilliant music career to support her husband and later wants to have a baby instead of going to Juilliard.

AM: Gosh, I never really thought about it in those terms. I mean, Jenny is high energy; she knows what she wants; she’s a smart ass. I think she’s strongly independent. She’s not the predictable, simpering housewife who’s frustrated because she can’t do her own thing. She’s also married to a man who’s thrilled by who she is. I don’t think she’d walk out as a bra-burner; maybe in another time, she would have been out there in Union Square, fist raised.

Did you relate to Jenny?

AM: My mother was an independent artist who brought in paychecks. When I graduated from college in 1960s, I entered that time without the personal rage of women who’d been laying down the slippers every night. I never saw that stuff at all. Everybody I knew acted as Jenny did: my mother, my friends in New York: they were all doing what they wanted to do to their best of their abilities. And I’d been working since fourteen.

Also, it’s extraordinarily lucky to have the miracle of a full scholarship to a university: Jenny had Radcliffe and I had Wellesley. If you are lucky enough to experience that, you probably are not going to emerge from those places without some sense of what you’re going to do with your life.

MacGraw and Evans. Getty Images

While aspects of it seem dated now, Love Story seemed to me to be a quiet peek into a changing world. Ryan has a quote in the movie, “It’s a new world, Philip.” And your two characters have rebellions against class conventions and stage a “do-it-yourself” wedding because they’re “negative” on religion, as Jenny put it. Was Love Story meant to be a portrait of a brave new world?

AM: You know something weird? It never crossed my mind. I’ve heard over and over again about how far removed it was from the times. This was during the Vietman war, and there were incredible anti-war movies being done. And Love Story was made amidst great racial upheaval, but it was always sort of characterized as a fairy tale apart from that world, and the characters as indoor people.

‘Love Story’ was made amidst great racial upheaval, but it was always sort of characterized as a fairy tale apart from that world, and the characters as indoor people.

How do you feel now about the role Love Story played in your career, and how it positioned you for your later career?

AM: Without it, I could have easily gone straight to oblivion. Because the size of the film’s success in countries all over the world—to this day, I travel a lot, and in India Morocco, all over, people come up and say, when are you going to make another Love Story? I was in the position to work with amazing people. Without it, I would have been the little actress who can’t get that break that gives them the run.

Well, you certainly got one of the biggest breaks and best runs ever.

AM: I’m so grateful for it. Every single second of was a surprise. That said, it gave me a position in an industry that I was totally unprepared to be in. Some of it was scary—all of the sudden, they’re looking at you, every second. But I had amazingly sound, intelligent parents, and there was never a moment where I thought about behaving like a diva. And working with Arthur and Ryan and Bob–again, I was so protected.

Anything else you’d like to say about Mr. Hiller?

AM: Just that I adored him completely, as did everyone who knew him.

Arthur Hiller received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars in 2002. Getty Images Related Story Lesley M.M. Blume Lesley Blume contributes regularly to Town & Country, Vanity Fair, and The Wall Street Journal.

Real-Life Love Stories That Will Remind You True Love Does Exist

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.

The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

  1. Precontemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Determination
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Termination

How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:

Let’s look at the six stages of change, together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

Stage 1: Precontemplation

At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

Stage 2: Contemplation

At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)

Stage 3: Preparation

At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

Stage 4: Action

When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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Stage 5: Maintenance

After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

Stage 6: Termination

Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

How long does each stage take?

You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

The limitations of this model

The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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Require the ability to set a realistic goal

For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.

Difficult to judge your progress

The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case. For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

Conclusion

The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

^ Psych Central: Stages Of Change
^ Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
^ Empowering Change: Stages of Change
^ Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
^ Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
^ The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
^ Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

3 Great Historical Love Stories

Love always has a bit of magic to it, no matter when or where it happens. Your world changes. Love makes it poetic. Love transforms all lovers. It’s like you sprout wings and suddenly have the power to fly through the air. As proof of love’s ability to enchant the hearts of people, today we’ll look at three unforgettable love stories in history.

We’re going to talk about unusual relationships. These lovers were faced with enormous obstacles and the decision to either overcome them or succumb to them. They remained loyal to their love despite adversity. And so they went down in history.

History is full of special love stories. Today, we’ll only recount three of them. But they’re extraordinary — they tell the tales of brave lovers who stayed together despite everything. They are proof that love is an incredible force.

1. Manuela and Bolivar, a love story to go down in history

Manuelita Sáenz was a woman who had anything she could possibly want. She came from a wealthy family and had married a British man who adored her. She was young, beautiful, and one of the most respected figures in all of Quito.

The very day the province gained its independence, Manuela’s life changed forever. She dressed up and went to a ball. And she met the man she would love until the end of her days: Simon Bolivar.

Manuela left her husband, her land, and her wealth to follow “El Libertador.” He also fell in love with her. He called her “My kind lunatic.” She accompanied him in the barracks and fought with the Creole army, earning the rank of captain.

However, what made this couple one of the greatest historical love stories of all time was her courageous actions in the so-called September Conspiracy of 1828. Bolivar’s enemies were trying to kill him. Manuela, sword in hand, confronted them. This gave Bolivar enough time to escape. Manuela went down in history as “La Libertadora del Libertador” or “The Liberator’s Liberator.”

2. Abelard and Heloise

Abelard and Heloise were another of history’s greatest love stories. Peter Abelard was one of the wisest men of his time. He was a philosopher and a theologian, but his fame today wasn’t because of that.

What made him famous was his turbulent relationship with Heloise. Heloise was considered one of the most enlightened women of her time. She was his student when she was barely 16 years old.

They fell madly in love and she got pregnant, something that was quite unusual and frowned upon at the time. Abelard kidnapped her and took her to his sister’s house. There, “Astrolabe” was born and left in the care of his relatives.

Later, they eloped so as not to spoil Abelard’s career. Heloise’s uncle and tutor reprimanded her for refusing to publicly accept the marriage. He even went as far as to physically hit her.

Abelard took Heloise to a convent in order to protect her from her uncle. The uncle, irate, castrated Abelard. The two lovers never saw each other again. However, they never lost touch — thanks to their tender love letters. These letters make up some of the best literature in French history. Later, in the 19th century, the lovers were reunited in a shared tomb in Paris.

3. Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson’s love was unforgettable. Their relationship gained worldwide fame because he renounced the throne of England in order to marry her. It was very controversial. Many saw it as one of the most romantic gestures of the 20th century. Others saw it as a disaster.

The English people never forgave him for making such a decision. Great historical loves sometimes clash with more practical matters, like power. It was 1936, and Europe was almost at war. Edward VIII had a reputation for being capricious and of weak character. Churchill even said that the United Kingdom should thank Wallis Simpson for having freed the country of the terrible king he would have been.

The truth is that Edward, heir to the crown, was hopelessly in love with Wallis and gave up everything to be with her. What happened next was shocking. The couple lived a completely frivolous life.

They hopped from party to party, always traveling around. They left unpaid bills everywhere they went. She enjoyed humiliating him. And he only fell further in love. He withstood quite a lot, even her blatant infidelities.

The Top 10 Greatest Love Stories Of All Time (Prepare To Swoon!)

These will definitely give you the feels. (Kleenex, anyone?)

When you think of the best, most romantic love stories of all time, there are probably a few classics that pop in your head immediately.

Whether they’re from more modern books and movies like The Notebook or Titanic, or classic tales featuring some of the most famous couples in history from plays or novels like Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice. Those stories of romantic love are full of so much passion and are so epic it makes you dream of your own Prince (or Princess) Charming sweeping you off of your feet.

If you have a special someone, think back to the memories that nearest and dearest to your heart — the moment you first met, your first date, your first kiss, the first time you said, “I love you” — all of those moments are part of your own epic love story. And you still have so many chapters to play out.

Having your own special love story is amazing, but there’s something about curling up with one of the best books to read that can really make you swoon.

The passion and emotions seem to just lift off of the page and you are caught up with the characters in their story. There can be sweet pages with lots of gushy but totally heart-filled declarations of love, and pages filled with problems that the couple has to miraculously overcome in the most romantic way.

You may even fall for some of the characters. But whether you are looking for that special someone or you’re already blissfully in love, these ageless classics know just how to pull on those heartstrings.

So, jump under the covers, turn down the lights, and tuck into the best love stories and most sought-after love stories from novels of all time, along with the most romantic love quote and a fun fact from each.

1. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

One of the heart-wrenching classics written in the vein of the “lost love can turn a good man evil” trope, Brontë’s first and only novel was& published in 1847 under the pseudonym “Ellis Bell.”

This timeless love story takes us back to 1802, at a remote farmhouse in the Yorkshire moorlands dubbed Wuthering Heights. Our leading man Heathcliff grows to become best friends with his adopted sister, Catherine, also his life-long crush. But an offhand comment, overheard at the Heights, changes the course of both of their lives.

Romantic quote: “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

Fun fact: The 1983 power ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, written by Jim Steinman and recorded by Bonnie Tyler, was inspired by Wuthering Heights.

2. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Frequently a top author’s choice, this Leo Tolstoy novel, first published in 1878, is a literary soap opera. Set in the highest circles of Russian society, Anna Karenina visits her brother Stiva in Moscow to help him save his marriage. While there, she falls in love with Count Vronsky.

A married woman, Karenina fights off her desires until they overwhelm her and she leaves her husband, Alexei. Denied a divorce, Anna spends her life looking for acceptance in her relationship. When the strain of their love life becomes too much, Anna leaves Vronsky in a rage and, well … if you haven’t read it, do! We won’t give away a heart-wrenching ending.

Romantic quote: “I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.”

Fun fact: Anna Karenina became a best-seller all over again in 2004 after Oprah put it on her “Oprah’s Book Club” list.

3. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

In one of William Shakespeare’s most celebrated works, this tale of “star-crossed lovers”, first written and performed as a play in 1597, has been told and interpreted time and time again — from Broadway and film classic West Side Story to 1996 teen flick Romeo + Juliet.

A story all lovers can relate to, Romeo and Juliet focuses on the tragedies that accompany the loss of true love. Lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, two of the most famed clans in literature, come from opposite sides of the Verona tracks and their family’s disapproval of their love eventually leads to their demise.

Romantic quote: “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”

Fun fact: In the popular computer game The Sims 2, there is a neighborhood called Veronaville in which two characters named Romeo Monty and Juliette Capp fall in love.

4. Casablanca, by Murray Burnett

Made famous in 1942 by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, this love story was based on a never-produced play called Everybody Comes to Rick’s, written by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. The script was reshaped into a screenplay by writers and brothers Julius and Philip Epstein and their friend Howard Koch.

In the story, American Rick Blaine is the owner of a gambling club “Rick’s Café Américain” in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. Set during World War II, Rick is a bitter man, having been scorned by ex-lover Ilsa Lund. When she walks back into his life suddenly, now married and with her husband in tow, Rick is forced to come face-to-face with well-aged heartache.

Romantic quote: “Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.”

Fun fact: In a 2005 poll by the American Film Institute, the Casablanca line “Here’s looking at you, kid” was ranked the fifth most memorable line in cinema history. Six other lines from the film also made their way into the top 100.

5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare

A romantic comedy by William Shakespeare first performed in 1605, this play takes place in Athens, as Duke Theseus plans a large festival around his marriage. During this time, Theseus’ daughter, Hermia, is refusing to marry her fiancé due to her secret true-love-in-the-wings, named Lysander.

Against her father’s wishes, she flees the nuptials for the woods. And guess what? While there, they befriend fairies who cause a bit of mischief. Cue a new love triangle and surprise ending!

Romantic quote: “I’ll follow thee and make a heaven of hell, To die upon the hand I love so well.”

Fun fact: In the 1989 blockbuster film Dead Poets’ Society, the character Neil Perry (played by Robert Sean Leonard), is cast as Puck in a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

6. Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak

This Russian novel by Boris Pasternak, published in 1957 and awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature the following year, tells the ageless classic story of a man torn between two women.

Yuri Zhivago is a medical doctor and poet during the 1917 Russian Revolution. While married to aristocratic Tonya, he falls in love with nurse Lara. Set during a war time, Zhivago’s love triangle falls prey to a twist of fate, and becomes a tale of protagonist versus an achy, breaking heart.

Romantic quote: “You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we know what we were taught.”

Fun fact: The first screen adaptation was a made-for-TV series produced in Brazil in 1959.

7. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen

This Jane Austen classic was first published anonymously in 1811, the credit appearing only as “by a lady.”

This love story focuses around the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. When their father dies, they lose their family estate and are reduced to a life of poverty. The story follows the sisters as they move in with a distant relative, leading them to equal parts heartache and romance.

Romantic quote: “’I cannot, I cannot,’ cried Marianne; ‘leave me, leave me, if I distress you; leave me, hate me, forget me! But do not torture me so. Oh! how easy for those who have no sorrow of their own to talk of exertion!”

Fun fact: In Ang Lee’s 1995 remake of Sense and Sensibility, there are six actors who went on to play parts in the Harry Potter films: Emma Thompson (Sybil Trelawney), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Gemma Jones (Madam Pomfrey), Robert Hardy (Cornelius Fudge), Elizabeth Spriggs (The Fat Lady) and Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge).

8. Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons), by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

The classic eighteenth-century novel (first published in 1782) by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos is the ultimate dark tale of lust, greed, deception and romance.

The captivating story features the Marquise de Merteuil, who requests that her partner, the Vicomte de Valmont, seduce Cécile de Volanges, the young daughter of her cousin. Young Cecile, however, has the hots for her also young music tutor, Chevalier Danceny, while the Vicomte surprises himself by falling for married and virtuous Madame de Tourvel. Love affairs, deception and lies aplenty unfold.

Romantic quote: “Now, I’m not going to deny that I was aware of your beauty. But the point is, this has nothing to do with your beauty. As I got to know you, I began to realise that beauty was the least of your qualities. I became fascinated by your goodness. I was drawn in by it.”

Fun fact: The 1999 cult movie hit Cruel Intentions was a modern adaptation of the novel.

9. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

In this 1813 romantic novel by Jane Austen, Charles Bingley is new to town and has leased an estate with his sisters and close friend Fitzwilliam Darcy. Named a “catch” by all the single ladies in town by virtue of good his looks and plentiful money, Darcy is also known as snob. Neighbor Elizabeth Bennet finds herself repulsed by Darcy’s ego. The resulting pas de deux between the feisty twosome makes for a quite a page-turner.

Romantic quote: “They walked on, without knowing in what direction. There was too much to be thought, and felt, and said, for attention to any other objects.”

Fun fact: Helen Fielding’s book Bridget Jones’s Diary was inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo’s story, published in 1831 and set in Paris in 1482, centers around Norte Dame cathedral.

In this “true love comes from within” story, Gypsy dancer Esmeralda is longed for by Quasimodo, Notre Dame’s kind-hearted but deformed bellringer. Upon order of Archdeacon Frollo, Quasimodo attempts to kidnap Esmeralda, but is caught. Standing trial, Quasimodo is humiliated by the public and his victim Esmeralda has pity on him.

Soon after, Esmeralda is blackmailed and sentenced to death for the murder of her crush, Phoebus. On her sentencing day, Esmeralda is saved from death by her dear Quasimodo. But can true love overcome her distaste for his looks?

Romantic quote: “Love is like a tree: it grows by itself, roots itself deeply in our being and continues to flourish over a heart in ruin. The inexplicable fact is that the blinder it is, the more tenacious it is. It is never stronger than when it is completely unreasonable.”

Fun fact: The Hunchback of Notre Dame has been adapted to the screen numerous times and cast two famous Anthonys in the leading Quasimodo role: Anthony Quinn in 1956 and Anthony Hopkins in 1982.​

Tim Gibson

If there’s one thing we all enjoy, it’s a decent love story. One that fills our hearts with the joy, hope and despair of human attraction. One that inspires us with wonderful characters and a gripping plot. One that we’ll read time and again, just to inhabit the author’s amazing world.

But how do you choose the best? It’s impossible to do so, of course, but that hasn’t stopped us trying. So, without further ado, sit back and enjoy our guide to the best love stories ever told.

1. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
Okay, so it’s a bit over-done nowadays. But that doesn’t detract from the ability of Shakespeare’s heartbreaking tale to tell us all we need to know about human longing. Sit before the star-crossed heroes at the play’s end, their arms entwined in a deathly embrace, and you see with utter clarity that true love is impossible to control. Then wipe your eyes and return to daily life, knowing that nothing will ever be the same again. No matter how clichéd it is to choose Romeo and Juliet as our winner, no other love story comes close.

2. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Set against the panoramic backdrop of 19th-century Russia, Tolstoy’s tale operates at many levels. At its heart is the adulterous relationship between the title character and the dashing Count Vronsky. That doesn’t end well, with Anna throwing herself before a train and her suicidal lover heading off on a death mission to fight the Turks. But there’s a parallel romance for those who like their love stories less tragic: Anna’s sister-in-law’s sister Kitty eventually falls in love and marries the likeable Levin, who himself undergoes a journey of self-discovery that many critics regard as Tolstoy’s real purpose for writing Anna Karenina. Worthy of second place for sheer ambition alone.

One-hit wonder: Wuthering Heights Credit: Rex

3. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Have you noticed the link between love and anguish? No one understood this better than Emily Bronte, whose one and only novel is an absolute corker. Heathcliff loves Cathy, and Cathy loves Heathcliff. But as with all good Victorian novels, class snobbery gets in the way of their passion. To cut a long story short, pretty much every character in the book ends up bitter, twisted and heartbroken. But the love never dies, and that’s what makes this a tale to be reckoned with.

4. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Talking of snobbery, Jane Austen’s deceptively comedic tale of Georgian manners is a masterclass in social commentary. At its heart is a good old-fashioned love story – or a few of them, to be precise. The most striking one is between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, whose relationship is established along the now-standard lines of initial coldness, mutual attraction, large-misunderstanding-that-leads-to-more-coldness, and eventual happily-ever-after-union. Too trope-filled to be the winner, Pride and Prejudice nevertheless deserves a place in our top five.

Catholic tastes: The Thorn Birds Credit: Alamy

5. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough
No other book does longing like Colleen McCullough’s epic tale of ambitious Roman Catholic Priest Ralph’s forbidden love for one of his parishioners, Meggie. When the two eventually kiss, it is one of the most spine-tingling moments in literature. Sadly, there’s no happy ending, showing that love stories don’t always turn out how we want them to. Worthy of its place on our list for this reason alone, The Thorn Birds is distinguished by its readability, grand scope, and atmospheric Antipodean setting.

Do kids know more about love than adults?

We asked an adorable group of children about the meaning of love. Just watch their responses without cracking a smile…

Do you believe in true love? Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you believe in love lasting forever? I think that these love stories will renew or reinforce your faith in love… They are the most famous love stories in history and literature, they are immortal.

1. Romeo and Juliet

This is probably the most famous lovers ever. This couple has become a synonym for love itself. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. Their love story is very tragic. The tale of two teenagers from two feuding families who fall in love at first sight and then marry, become true lovers and then risk it all for their love. To take your own life for your husband or wife is definitely a sign of true love. Their “untimely deaths” ultimately unite their feuding households.

2. Cleopatra and Mark Antony

The true love story of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the most memorable, intriguing and moving of all times. The story of these two historical characters had later been dramatized by William Shakespeare and is still staged all over the world. The relationship of Antony and Cleopatra is a true test of love. They fell in love at first sight. The relationship between these two powerful people put the country of Egypt in a powerful position. But their love affair outraged the Romans who were wary of the growing powers of the Egyptians. Despite all the threats, Anthony and Cleopatra got married. It is said that while fighting a battle against Romans, Antony got false news of Cleopatra’s death. Shattered, he fell on his sword. When Cleopatra learned about Antony ‘s death, she was shocked. And she took her own life. Great love demands great sacrifices.

3. Lancelot and Guinevere

The tragic love story of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere is probably one of the best-known stories of Arthurian Legend. Lancelot fall in love with Queen Guinevere, King Arthur’s wife. Their love grew slowly, as Guinevere kept Lancelot away from her. Eventually, however, her love and passion overpowered her and the pair became lovers. One night, Sir Agravain and Sir Modred, King Arthur’s nephew, led a band of 12 knights to Guinevere’s chamber where they burst in upon the lovers. Discovered, Sir Lancelot made a fighting escape, but poor Guinevere was not so lucky. She was seized and condemned to burn to death for her adultery. Fear not. Sir Lancelot returned several days later to rescue his beloved Guinevere from the fire. This whole sad affair divided the Knights of the Round Table and weakened Arthur’s kingdom. Poor Lancelot ended his days as a lowly hermit and Guinevere became a nun at Amesbury where she died.

4. Tristan and Isolde

The tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde has been told and retold through various stories and manuscripts. It takes place during medieval times during the reign of King Arthur. Isolde of Ireland was the daughter of the King of Ireland. She was betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall. King Mark sent his nephew, Tristan, to Ireland to escort Isolde back to Cornwall. During the voyage, Isolde and Tristan fell forever in love. Isolde did marry Mark of Cornwall, but could not help but love Tristan. The love affair continued after the marriage. When King Mark finally learned of the affair, he forgave Isolde, but Tristan was banned from Cornwall. Tristan went to Brittany. There he met Iseult of Brittany. He was attracted to her because of the similarity of her name to his true love. He married her, but did not consummate the marriage because of his love for the “true” Isolde. After falling ill, he sent for Isolde in hopes that she would be able to cure him. If she agreed to come, the returning ship’s sails would be white, or the sails would be black if she did not agree. Iseult, seeing the white sails, lied to Tristan and told him that the sails were black. He died of grief before Isolde could reach him. Isolde died soon after of a broken heart.

5. Paris and Helena

Recounted in Homer’s Iliad, the story of Helen of Troy and the Trojan War is a Greek heroic legend, combining fact and fiction. Helen of Troy is considered one the most beautiful women in all literature. She was married to Menelaus, king of Sparta. Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, fell in love with Helen and abducted her, taking her back to Troy. The Greeks assembled a great army, led by Menelaus’s brother, Agamemnon, to retrieve Helen. Troy was destroyed. Helen returned safely to Sparta, where she lived happily with Menelaus for the rest of her life.

6. Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice story is an ancient greek tale of desperate love. Orpheus fell deeply in love with and married Eurydice, a beautiful nymph. They were very much in love and very happy together. Aristaeus, a Greek god of the land and agriculture, became quite fond of Eurydice, and actively pursued her. While fleeing from Aristaeus, Eurydice ran into a nest of snakes which bit her fatally on her legs. Distraught, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus traveled to the underworld and by his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone (he was the only person ever to do so), who agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. In his anxiety he forgot that both needed to be in the upper world, and he turned to look at her, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever.

7. Napoleon and Josephine

A marriage of convenience, at age 26 Napoleon took a fancy to Josephine. An older, prominent, and most importantly wealthy woman. As time drew on, Napoleon fell deeply in love with Josephine, and she with him, but that didn’t deter the adultery on both sides-their mutual respect for one another kept them together, and their burning passion between them didn’t falter, and was genuine. They eventually split, as Napoleon deeply required something Josephine could not give him, an heir. Sadly they parted ways, both bearing the love and passion in their hearts, for all eternity.

8. Odysseus and Penelope

Few couples understand sacrifice quite like this Greek pair. After being torn apart, they wait twenty long years to be reunited. War takes Odysseus away shortly after his marriage to Penelope. Although she has little hope of his return, she resists the 108 suitors who are anxious to replace her husband. Odysseus is equally devoted, refusing a beautiful sorceress’s offer of everlasting love and eternal youth, so that he might return home to his wife and son. This Valentine’s Day, take a cue from Homer, and remember that true love is worth waiting for.

9. Paolo and Francesca

Paolo and Francesca are made famous by the Dante’s masterpiece “Divine Comedy”. It is a true story: Francesca is married with Gianciotto Malatesta an awful person, but she has Gianciotto’s brother, Paolo, as lover. The love between them grows when they read together a book (according to Dante) about Lancelot and Guinevere. When the two lovers are discovered they are killed by Gianciotto.

10. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler

“Gone with the wind” can be identified as one of the immortal pieces of literary works in this world. Margaret Mitchell’s famous work has chronicled the love and hate relationship between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. Proving that timing is everything, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler never seem to be quite in synch. Throughout the epic story, this tempestuous twosome experience passion but not permanence, and their stormy marriage reflects the surrounding Civil War battles. The flirtatious, promiscuous, and perpetually pursued Scarlett can’t make up her mind between her many suitors. When she finally decides to settle on being happy with Rhett, her fickle nature has already driven him away. Hope springs eternal in our devious heroine, however, and the novel ends with Scarlett proclaiming, “Tomorrow is another day.”

11. Jane Eyre and Rochester

In Charlotte Bronte’s famous tale, friendless characters find a cure for loneliness in each other’s company. Jane is an abused orphan employed as a governess to the charge of an abrasive, but very rich Edward Rochester. The improbable pair grow close as Rochester reveals a tender heart beneath his gruff exterior. He does not, however, reveal his penchant for polygamy – on their wedding day, a horrified Jane discovers he is already married. Heartbroken, Jane runs away, but later returns after a dreadful fire has destroyed Rochester’s mansion, killed his wife, and left him blind. Love triumphs, and the two reunite and live out their days in shared bliss.

12. Layla and Majnun

A leading medieval poet of Iran, Nizami of Ganje is known especially for his romantic poem Layla and Majnun Inspired by an Arab legend, Layla and Majnun is a tragic tale about unattainable love. It had been told and retold for centuries, and depicted in manuscripts and other media such as ceramics for nearly as long as the poem has been penned. Layla and Qays fall in love while at school. Their love is observed and they are soon prevented from seeing one another. In misery, Qays banishes himself to the desert to live among and be consoled by animals. He neglects to eat and becomes emaciated. Due to his eccentric behavior, he becomes known as Majnun (madman). There he befriends an elderly Bedouin who promises to win him Layla’s hand through warfare. Layla’s tribe is defeated, but her father continues to refuse her marriage to Majnun because of his mad behavior, and she is married to another. After the death of Layla’s husband, the old Bedouin facilitates a meeting between Layla and Majnun, but they are never fully reconciled in life. Upon death, they are buried side by side. The story is often interpreted as an allegory of the soul’s yearning to be united with the divine.

13. Eloise and Abelard

This is a story of a monk and a nun whose love letters became world famous. Around 1100, Peter Abelard went to Paris to study at the school of Notre Dame. He gained a reputation as an outstanding philosopher. Fulbert, the canon of Notre Dame, hired Abelard to tutor his niece, Heloise. Abelard and the scholarly Heloise fell deeply in love, conceived a child, and were secretly married. But Fulbert was furious, so Abelard sent Heloise to safety in a convent. Thinking that he intended to abandon Heloise, Fulbert had his servants castrate Abelard while he slept. Abelard became a monk and devoted his life to learning. The heartbroken Heloise became a nun. Despite their separations and tribulations, Abelard and Heloise remained in love. Their poignant love letters were later published.
14. Pyramus and Thisbe

A very touching love story that is sure to move anyone who reads it is that of Pyramus and Thisbe. Theirs was a selfless love and they made sure that even in death, they were together. Pyramus was the most handsome man and was childhood friend of Thisbe, the fairest maiden in Babylonia. They both lived in neighboring homes and fell in love with each other as they grew up together. However, their parents were dead against them marrying each other. So one night just before the crack of dawn, while everyone was asleep, they decided to slip out of their homes and meet in the nearby fields near a mulberry tree. Thisbe reached there first. As she waited under the tree, she saw a lion coming near the spring close by to quench its thirst. Its jaws were bloody. When Thisbe saw this horrifying sight, she panicked and ran to hide in some hollow rocks nearby. As she was running, she dropped her veil. The lion came near and picked up the veil in his bloody jaws. At that moment, Pyramus reaches near the mulberry tree and sees Thisbe’s veil in the jaws of the lion. He is completely devastated. Shattered, he pierces his chest with his own sword. Unknown to what just happened, Thisbe is still hiding in the rocks due to the fear of the lion. When she comes out after sometime, she sees what her lover did to himself. She is totally shattered when she sees the sword piercing right through her lover’s chest. She also takes the sword and kills herself.

15. Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy

Actually Jane Austen has personified two attributes of human nature, pride and prejudice in Darcy and Elizabeth. Darcy comes from a very high social hierarchy and Pemberley. He typifies the educated aristocracy while on the other hand, Elizabeth is the second daughter of a gentleman of modest means. Mr. Bennett has five daughters who have been allowed to grow up the way they wanted, there has been no school education for them, nor has there been any governess at home. Elizabeth’s very indulgent mother and irresponsible father never gave any thought to the future of the daughters, it is always taken for granted, that they will do well for themselves. To a woman of Mrs. Bennett’s understanding, doing well exclusively means finding a rich, well to do husband. For a man of Darcy’s social stature, these were very serious failings of the family and totally unacceptable to his polished, educated and refined mind. Darcy adores Pemberley, and the future mistress of that estate can only be just as polished and refined and from an equally prestigious family. He falls in love with Elizabeth only to be refused by her initially, and then much later she realized that she can love no one but Darcy. How they become united and understand the love for each other makes very interesting study.

16. Salim and Anarkali

The love story of Salim and Anarkali is a story that every lover knows. The son of the great Mughal emperor Akbar, Salim, fell in love with an ordinary but beautiful courtesan Anarkali. He was mesmerized by her beauty and fell in love as soon as he saw her. But the emperor could not digest the fact that his son was in love with an ordinary courtesan. He started pressurizing Anarkali and devised all sorts of tactics o make her fall in the eyes of the young, love smitten prince. When Salim came to know of this, he declared a war against his own father. But the mighty emperor’s gigantic army is too much for the young prince to handle. He gets defeated and is sentenced to death. This is when Anarkali intervenes and renounces her love to save her beloved from the jaws of death. She is entombed alive in a brick wall right in front of her lover’s eyes.

17. Pocahontas and John Smith

This love story is a famous legend in the history of America. Pocahontas, an Indian Princess was the daughter of Powhatan. Powhatan was the powerful chief of the Algonquian Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Pocahontas for the first time in her life saw Englishmen in May 1607. She found John Smith most attractive and developed a liking for him. Smith was taken to the official residence of Powhattan and he was tortured. It was Pocahontas who saved his life from the attack of the Indians. Pocahontas then helped Smith to stand on his feet and Powhattan adopted Smith as his son. This incident helped Pocahontas and Smith to become friends with each other. Pocahontas after this incident made frequent visits to the Jamestown and passed on to the Indians messages of her father. John Smith after getting badly injured due to gunpowder explosion, returned to England. When Pocahontas made a visit to the fort, she was informed that Smith was dead. Sometime after, Pocahontas was taken prisoner by Sir Samuel Argall. Argall hoped to use Pocahontas as abargaining chip with her father Powhatan in effort to get English prisoners returned. During her captivity, she decided to become a Christian, taking the name “Rebecca” when she was baptized. A year later, she married John Rolfe. She made a visit to London, where he met his friend John Smith after eight long years and it was their last meeting.

18. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

In 1612, a teenage girl, Arjumand Banu, married 15-year-old Shah Jahan, ruler of the Mughal Empire. Renamed Mumtaz Mahal, she bore Shah Jahan 14 children and became his favorite wife. After Mumtaz died in 1629, the grieving emperor resolved to create a fitting monument. It took 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants nearly 20 years to complete this monument – the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was never able to complete a black marble mausoleum he planned for himself. Deposed by his son, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the Red Fort of Agra, and spent lonely hours staring across the Jamuna River at the monument to his beloved queen. He was eventually buried beside her in the Taj Mahal.

19. Marie and Pierre Curie

This is a story about partners in love and science. Unable to continue her studies in Poland because universities did not admit women, Maria Sklodowska Curie traveled to Paris in 1891 to attend the Sorbonne. Known by the French “Marie,” she spent every spare hour reading in the library or in the laboratory. The industrious student caught the eye of Pierre Curie, director one of the laboratories where Marie worked. Curie ardently wooed Marie and made several marriage proposals. They were finally married in 1895 and began their famous partnership. In 1898 they discovered polonium and radium. The Curies and scientist Henri Becquerel won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 for discovering radioactivity. When Curie died in 1904, Marie pledged to carry on their work. She took his place at the Sorbonne, becoming the school’s first female teacher. In 1911 she became the first person to win a second Nobel Prize, this time for chemistry. She continued to experiment and lecture until her death of leukemia in 1934, driven by the memory of the man she loved.
20. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

This love story is about English royalty who mourned her husband’s death for 40 years. Victoria was a lively, cheerful girl, fond of drawing and painting. She ascended the throne of England in 1837 after the death of her uncle, King William IV. In 1840, she married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. While at first Prince Albert was unpopular in some circles because he was German, he came to be admired for his honesty, diligence, and his devotion to his family. The couple had nine children. Victoria loved her husband deeply. She relied on his advice in matters of state, especially in diplomacy. When Albert died in 1861, Victoria was devastated. She did not appear in public for three years. Her extended seclusion generated considerable public criticism. Several attempts were made on Victoria’s life. However, under the influence of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Victoria resumed public life, opening Parliament in 1866. But Victoria never stopped mourning her beloved prince, wearing black until her death in 1901. During her reign, the longest in English history, Britain became a world power on which “the sun never set.”

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