If Ever Two Were One: A Private Diary of Love Eternal

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9780060564117: If Ever Two Were One: A Private Diary of Love Eternal

That is the daguerreotype of my darling's innocent and beautiful soul ... her soul was the violet of my home, fragrant with heaven's own breezes, and lovely with a modest charm that kept me and keeps me her lover as in the days of yore.

--Francis Ellignwood Abbot, 1894

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About the Author:

Brian A. Sullivan was senior reference archivist at the Harvard University Archives and was the recipient of the Harvard University Douglas Bryant Fellowship in 2000. He has spent the past several years transcribing the journals of Francis Ellingwood Abbot and of John Langdon Sibley, Harvard College librarian. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

From Publishers Weekly:

If this were a fictional collection of letters and diary entries—a narrative trick adding up to a novel, say—readers might be tempted to dismiss it as contrived or unbelievable. But the characters and the conflicts here are real, and make for an engrossing and often poignant read. Harvard archivist Sullivan has transcribed and compiled the writings and correspondence of Francis Ellingwood Abbot, who was born in Boston in 1836 and who entered Harvard in 1855. What begins as a recounting of college life turns quickly into a love story after Abbot meets his future wife, Katie Loring. Abbot’s early descriptions of Katie are full of 19th-century fervor ("Was there ever a voice so musical or clear?"; "I quivered like an aspen....I feel an involuntary reverence, an emotion which is almost awe") and his musings brim with youthful exuberance. Readers are taken through Frank and Katie’s courtship, secret marriage and imposed separations. The death of their first child, whom Frank never saw, is recounted in a letter from Katie: "Our little one is no more ... Weep, Frank, weep! Shed for me the tears I cannot shed for myself!" Their great love carries them through lives that have more than their share of financial woes, sickness and death. While the glimpses into "the lost eloquence of Victorian courtship" compel, more moving is the enduring passion between husband and wife. But the tale is ultimately a sad one: over the years, Frank turns from a hopeful young student to a lonely, disappointed man. In 1903, on the 10th anniversary of Katie’s death, Frank kills himself on her grave. "My life work is done," he wrote, "no one really needs me more—the path of honor is plain, and love bids me to tread it. I will." b&w photos and illustrations throughout.
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