Former schoolmates and lifelong besties Charlotte Brontë and Ellen Nussey traded more than 500 letters during their friendship. In 1839, nearly a decade before Brontë’s Jane Eyre was published, Nussey’s brother Henry proposed marriage to the author. She rejected him in a letter, which the website Brain Pickings perfectly describes as “a bold defiance of oppressive gender ideals, packaged as the ultimate it’s-not-you-it’s-me gentle letdown.” Leave it to the wildly creative literary types to pen the best breakup letters. This got us wondering about the most dramatic breakups authors have faced, so we explored the juicy, and sometimes tragic, love lives of writers throughout history.
Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway
It wouldn’t be a list of botched relationships without mentioning the brutish antics of Ernest Hemingway. A four-time husband who courted affairs throughout most of his marriages, Hemingway’s daunting ego was crushed when third wife Martha Gellhorn, who proved to be the author’s most compelling and challenging partner, refused to shun her successful career as a journalist and war correspondent to play the role of traditional wife. Gellhorn ended their contentious relationship when Hemingway’s resentment became too much to bear. Reportedly, he also tried to block her from traveling at one point, which forced her to sail through dangerous, war-torn waters to her destination.