Lovers and Obsessions

Lou Andreas-Salome first drove Friederich Nietszche over the brink, then got together with Rainer Maria Rilke (she encouraged him to change his name from Rene to Rainer, taught him Russian, and traveled with him to Russia to meet Tolstoy - who was much more taken with her than Rilke), and had an affair with Sigmund Freud.

Denys Finch-Hatton was the suave, gorgeous, and ultra-literate English white hunter who befriended Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), became her lover, and died in a plane crash.

Maud Gonne was the fiery Irish nationalist with whom Yeats was in love for most of his life. He proposed to her more than once, but was rejected. He then proposed to, and was rejected by, her daughter.

Constantin Heger ran the pension where the Bronte sisters studied. Charlotte was clearly smitten, and used his character in her novels The Professor and Villette. Heger is also the template for Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre.

Alice Liddell,
a young girl befriended by Lewis Carroll, became his muse and likely sexual obsession. He photographed her on several occasions, and wrote Alice in Wonderland for her.

Mohammed el Adl
was a young tram conductor with whom E.M. Forster fell in love while working as a searcher in Alexandria. Mohammed was the love of Forster's life. Forster continued adding to an extended "letter" to him for years after Mohammed's death from tuberculosis.

Arthur Rimbaud fell in with Paul Verlaine in Paris. They traveled to London together. Verlaine became besotted with Rimbaud, and, when they returned to France, shot him in a fit of jealousy. Rimbaud later forgave Verlaine and entrusted him with his finest work, The Illuminations, before setting off for adventures in Africa.

Vita Sackville-West had an extended affair with Virginia Woolf. Woolf's Orlando was described by Sackville-West's son as a long love-letter to his mother.

Lady Duff Twysden was the avatar for Brett Ashley in Hemingway's Fiesta. They went to the bullfights in Pamplona, but, though Hemingway was apparently besotted, they never got together.