With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we thought we’d shine a spotlight on friendships and the indelible ways these pairs stayed true to each other through thick and thin. The mutual adoration between the below (and perhaps seemingly unlikely) pairings is indicative of how time and circumstance can present the opportunity for connection and devotion.
So much of what history leaves us is a trail of discovery. So while we’ll give you the gist of these friendships, it’s up to you to think about: Why would they be drawn to one another? How did life intervene to form these pairings? What is the common bond that brought these two together?
Think about your friendships and what they mean to you! And read on for more love in the form of friends…
Mark Twain and Helen Keller
Did you know that these two were friends for more than a decade? It’s true that they were over 40 years apart in age and first met in March 1895 when Keller was only 14 years old. Twain was a mentor and a true friend to the deaf and blind writer and activist, and the pair shared a mutual love of learning and laughter. Their friendship endured, through letter writing and growing fame. But their affection for each other could be summed up in Keller’s words: "He treated me like a competent human being. That's why I loved him."
Twain also referred to Keller as “the eighth wonder of the world,” while Keller wrote of Twain: “Mark Twain has his own way of thinking, saying and doing everything. I can feel the twinkle of his eye in his handshake. Even while he utters his cynical wisdom in an indescribably droll voice, he makes you feel that his heart is a tender Iliad of human sympathy.” True friends, through and through.
Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe
The starlet and jazz singer’s friendship and strong bond lasted many years, through the highs and lows of Hollywood. In November 1954, Monroe was able to see Fitzgerald perform in Los Angeles. The pair connected afterward and became fast friends. They supported each other through the racial barriers that presented themselves, and Monroe called upon her connections to support Fizgeraldd’s talent. When once asked about her favorite singers, Marilyn Monroe answered, "Well, my very favorite person, and I love her as a person as well as a singer, I think she's the greatest, and that's Ella Fitzgerald."
Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley
The First Lady Mary Lincoln and seamstress Elizabeth (and freed slave) formed an unlikely friendship in the halls of the White House through the highs and lows of the Lincoln presidency. Mary commissioned her Inaugural dress to be made by Elizabeth and the rest, so they say, is history. Afterward, she was brought on as the First Lady’s official seamstress, becoming a celebrity of sorts and Lincoln was said to address her as “Madam Elizabeth”. Mary confided in Elizabeth about her debts and sought counsel on such White House matters as planning state dinners or Lincoln’s campaign for a second term. “Lizabeth, you are my best and kindest friend, and I love you,” Mary once wrote to her.
Later, Elizabeth went on to write and publish a memoir (Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House) that is now considered one of the most important narratives of the Lincolns’ domestic life. After the publication of her memoir in 1868, which angered Mary, the pair unfortunately never spoke again. (This can be the difficult part of friendship, when an action causes a rift. Do you think this pair should have reconciled?)
And, a Valentine’s Day printable! Use these Honest History-inspired cards to tell your friends how much they mean to you. Download and send a note.