20 Poignant Romantic Quotes from the 1800s

Breathe in some iconic Victorian love quotes.

romantic quotes from classic books and literature

Some of these romantic 19th-century love quotes are from the Georgian era, when Romanticism was at its height, and others are from the Victorian era. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to realize that certain insights and matters of the heart are timeless.

It is human to love, struggle, give up, and then love again. Some of these sayings might strike you as overly sentimental, and others might resonate deeply. So save your favorites, and let them be an ongoing source of inspiration as you live your unique (yet enduring) love story.

William Wordsworth

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.

― William Wordsworth, 1770-1850
“Letter to his Wife (April 29 1812)”

The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.

― William Wordsworth, 1770-1850
“Lyrical Ballads”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

― Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861
“How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)”

Alas, I have grieved so I am hard to love.
Yet love me–wilt thou? Open thine heart wide,
And fold within, the wet wings of thy dove.

― Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861
“Sonnets from the Portuguese”

Elizabeth Gaskell

He could not forget the touch of her arms around his neck, impatiently felt as it had been at the time; but now the recollection of her clinging defence of him, seemed to thrill him through and through,—to melt away every resolution, all power of self-control, as if it were wax before a fire.

― Elizabeth Gaskell, 1810-1865
North and South

He knew how she would love. He had not loved her without gaining that instinctive knowledge of what capabilities were in her. Her soul would walk in glorious sunlight if any man was worthy, by his power of loving, to win back her love

― Elizabeth Gaskell, 1810-1865
North and South

Charles Dickens

I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.

― Charles Dickens, 1812-1870
Great Expectations

Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.

― Charles Dickens, 1812-1870
Great Expectations

Robert Browning

What’s the earth

With all its art, verse, music, worth —

Compared with love, found, gained, and kept?

― Robert Browning, 1812-1889
The Poems and Plays of Robert Browning 

Take away love and our earth is a tomb

― Robert Browning, 1812-1889
“Fra Lippo Lippi” 

Emily Brontë

He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

― Emily Brontë, 1818-1848
Wuthering Heights

If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.

― Emily Brontë, 1818-1848
Wuthering Heights

George Eliot

I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved. I am not sure that you are of the same mind. But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. This is the world of light and speech, and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.

― George Eliot, 1819-1880
“Letter to Georgiana Burne-Jones (1875)”

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?

― George Eliot, 1819-1880
Middlemarch

Leo Tolstoy

I think… if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.

― Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910
Anna Karenina

He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.

― Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910
Anna Karenina

Thomas Hardy

At first I did not love you, Jude; that I own. When I first knew you I merely wanted you to love me. I did not exactly flirt with you; but that inborn craving which undermines some women’s morals almost more than unbridled passion–the craving to attract and captivate, regardless of the injury it may do the man–was in me; and when I found I had caught you, I was frightened. And then–I don’t know how it was– I couldn’t bear to let you go–possibly to Arabella again–and so I got to love you, Jude. But you see, however fondly it ended, it began in the selfish and cruel wish to make your heart ache for me without letting mine ache for you.

― Thomas Hardy, 1840-1928
Jude the Obscure

People go on marrying because they can’t resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month’s pleasure with a life’s discomfort.

― Thomas Hardy, 1840-1928
Jude the Obscure

Oscar Wilde

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

― Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900
An Ideal Husband

The very essence of romance is uncertainty.

― Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900
The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

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