Bad Romance: History’s Ill-Fated Literary Couples

Writers who marry or woo other writers — it’s a bold move, considering the egos involved and the social isolation necessary to get a decent amount of good work done. And yet the authors below tried to make it work; some stayed together for months and some were even able to make it last years. Many of the following authors even acted as mentors to their younger paramours, giving their careers a boost by introducing them to editors and other important members of literary circles. If you’re interested in learning more about writers’ affairs of the heart, Katie Roiphe details some of the following relationships in her book, Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages. So read on, dear readers, and tell us which couples we missed in the comments section below.

Elizabeth Hardwick and Robert Lowell

“The most desolating fact is that Cal and I have, by some strange miracle, a good marriage and great love for each other, except in these manic months and just before they come on,” Hardwick once wrote to her friend, Mary McCarthy, using the nickname for Lowell. Lisa Levy writes about the pair in a 2008 essay in the Believer, saying, “Elizabeth Hardwick, who died in December 2007, is emblematic of a long-suffering housewife, albeit one married to an extraordinary man, and one who lived among extraordinary people in extraordinary times.”