Booklist: Couples in History

As a married woman who is no longer in her early twenties, I am slowly becoming disillusioned with the couples in romance novels. I am more interested in the couples that stand the test of time and support each other through thick and thin. I found myself tearing up when reading about Ruth and Marty’s relationship in Notorious RBG. That is the kind of substance I crave. As we creep toward Valentine’s Day, I decided to do something a little different with my book display. Romance novels don’t circulate that much in my library anyway, and my previous attempts at romance displays have gone largely untouched.

It wasn’t easy to find a list that matched what I wanted, so I made my own. There also wasn’t a good subject heading that I could find in my library’s catalog. I pestered my colleagues and my husband to tell me any couple in history that they could think of, and I looked up lists of couples who had a major impact on history. I came up with a list of about 200 couples, and then I searched for each of them to see if we had books on them. The resulting list includes both non-fiction books and fiction books based on real couples.

(I used to create the graphic above.)


  • About Alice by Calvin Trillin
  • Ambition and desire: The dangerous life of Josephine Bonaparte by Kate Williams
  • Anchored in love: An intimate portrait of June Carter Cash by John Carter Cash
  • Dear Cary: My life with Cary Grant by Dyan Cannon
  • Eat, drink & remarry: Confessions of a serial wife by Margo Howard
  • Franklin and Eleanor: An extraordinary marriage by Hazel Rowley
  • Furious love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the marriage of a century by Sam Kashner
  • Go down together: The true, untold story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn
  • Hourglass: Time, memory, marriage by Dani Shapiro
  • How the French invented love by Marilyn Yalom
  • It ended badly: Thirteen of the worst breakups in history by Jennifer Ashley Wright
  • It’s all about him: Finding the love of my life by Denise J. Jackson
  • Joe and Marilyn by C. David Heymann
  • Joy: Poet, seeker, and the woman who captivated C. S. Lewis by Abigail Santamaria
  • Lady Bird and Lyndon: The hidden story of a marriage that made a president by Betty Boyd Caroli
  • Loving: Interracial intimacy in America and the threat to White supremacy by Sheryll Cashin
  • My dearest friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams by John Adams
  • My life, my love, my legacy by Coretta Scott King
  • No ordinary time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The home front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Pat and Dick: The Nixons, an intimate portrait of marriage by Will Swift
  • Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, a tale of love & fallout by Lauren Redniss
  • The assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the romance that changed the world by Greg King
  • The duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the love affair that rocked the crown by Penny Junor
  • The greatest love story ever told by Megan Mullally
  • The Lincolns: A portrait of a marriage by Daniel Mark Epstein
  • The Obamas by Jodi Kantor
  • The queen’s bed: An intimate history of Elizabeth’s court by Anna Whitelock
  • The Washingtons: George and Martha, “join’d by friendship, crown’d by love” by Flora Fraser
  • These few precious days: The final year of Jack with Jackie by Christopher P. Andersen
  • Wallis in love: The untold life of the Duchess of Windsor, the woman who changed the monarchy by Andrew Morton
  • Wild romance: A Victorian story of a marriage, a trial, and a self-made woman by Chloë Schama
  • William and Kate: A royal love story by Christopher P. Andersen


  • A touch of stardust by Kate Alcott
  • Alex & Eliza: A love story by Melissa De la Cruz
  • Beautiful fools: The last affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald by R. Clifton Spargo
  • Carrying Albert home: The somewhat true story of a man, his wife, and her alligator by Homer H. Hickam
  • Freud’s mistress by Karen Mack
  • Gatsby’s girl by Caroline Preston
  • Helen Keller in love by Rosie Sultan
  • His last duchess by Gabrielle Kimm
  • Lady of the roses by Sandra Worth
  • Loving vs. Virginia: A documentary novel of the landmark civil rights case by Patricia Hruby Powell
  • Madame Picasso by Anne Girard
  • Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper
  • Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood
  • My dear Hamilton: A novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray
  • Never anyone but you Ruperty Thomson
  • Rodin’s lover by Heather Webb
  • Sutton by J. R. Moehringer
  • The arrangement by Ashley Warlick
  • The honeymoon by Dinitia Smith
  • The invention of everything else by Samantha Hunt
  • The legend of Sheba: Rise of a queen by Tosca Moon Lee
  • The Paris wife by Paula McLain
  • The queen’s lover by Francine du Plessix Gray
  • The white princess by Philippa Gregory
  • Under the wide and starry sky by Nancy Horan
  • White houses by Amy Bloom
  • Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler

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