You must stop writing these little love letters to my husband

Happy Birthday to the finest of letters

Please join me in wishing the following letter a Very Happy Birthday! Written exactly 100 years ago it remains, and will forever remain, a firm favourite, and can be found in the second volume of Letters of Note. Enjoy. And if you’d like these sent directly to your inbox, sign up.

New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield and editor John Murry met in 1911 and had a turbulent relationship by anyone’s standards: by the time they wed in 1918, they had split several times and seen other people—a pattern that persisted throughout their marriage. Three years after tying the knot, having just intercepted a suspicious piece of mail, Mansfield saw no option but to write a stern letter to fellow author Princess Elizabeth Bibesco, a woman who for some time had been having an affair with Murry. It seems Mansfield could deal with the infidelity; what she definitely could not stand, however, were the love letters.

24 March, 1921

Dear Princess Bibesco,

I am afraid you must stop writing these little love letters to my husband while he and I live together. It is one of the things which is not done in our world.

You are very young. Won’t you ask your husband to explain to you the impossibility of such a situation.

Please do not make me have to write to you again. I do not like scolding people and I simply hate having to teach them manners.

Yours sincerely,

Katherine Mansfield