(Hannah Ellis-Petersen’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/2.)
Laurence Olivier’s steamy love letters to Vivien Leigh see light of dayLaurence Olivier’s steamy love letters to Vivien Leigh see light of day
It was one of the greatest Hollywood love affairs, beginning in a whirlwind of passion and secrecy and ending in breakdown and divorce.
Now a cache of 200 previously unpublished letters between Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh is to be made public, revealing the intimate thoughts and ardent declarations of love between the pair.
The letters, which are held in the Victoria and Albert museum archives, trace the turbulent relationship between Olivier and Leigh, which began in 1936 when the pair played on-screen lovers in Fire Over England. Olivier was married at the time to Jill Esmund and the lovers were forced to hide their relationship until 1940.
In one undated letter, believed to be from 1938 or 1939, Olivier wrote to Leigh of his overwhelming desire for her: “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.”