My father and I did a lot of talking about his dad, Henry V. Beck, while we were in Berlin. We wanted to see where he was at this extraordinary time of his life as an army man stationed overseas. I have some of these old photographs – we always love to compare how much my brother looks like him – and a very real and moving poem he wrote while so very far from the ones he loved. These artifacts sat for decades in an old army trunk in his closet and are now some of my most beloved possessions of this thoughtful and very elegant family man.
I understand from my sister that your present intention is to travel; to return to England. I have decided, after long consideration, to write to you. We have travelled together, and I hope we have become friends sufficiently to – my dear Lady Anna, let me dispense with attempts to be clever or discreet. I am in love with you. There. It is said. For many, many years I have believed it was my fate never to say these words. A long time ago I had hoped, as all young men hope – no, I had mor ethan hoped, I had confidently expected to be overtaken by those feelings I had read so much about. It never happened. And now it has.
Ahdaf Soueif, “The Map of Love“
We have been talking about these old-fashioned artifacts at the studio recently when our assistant brought in a four page, monogrammed love letter she had received (which inevitably ended up on a shoot!). Do people still write love letters? I got to thinking about it and when you open your mind to the written word of love you begin to see it everywhere. In Santiago I found Pablo Neruda’s Love Poems; in the book “Map of Love” Sharif al-Baroudi’s love letter to Lady Anna brought tears to my eyes, and in the film HER, our main character makes a living writing beautiful handwritten letters. What is so special about ink on paper that when we receive one – even if the feeling is not reciprocated – we can’t throw it away? Will one day, people feel sentimental about emails in the same vein or will all our digital maps of love disappear like the flash of a Snapchat?…