CONCORD, N.H. >> Before becoming a bride eight times over, Elizabeth Taylor was a 17-year-old starlet scribbling letters to her first fiance, charting on pale pink stationery his progression from her one-and-only to the one who got away.
"I’ve never known this kind of love before — it’s so perfect and complete — and mature," Taylor wrote to William Pawley on May 6, 1949. "I’ve never loved anyone in my life before one third as much as I love you — and I never will (well, as far as that goes — I’ll never love anyone else — period)."
Taylor, who died last week at age 79, was engaged to Pawley in 1949, just before her first marriage. More than 60 of the letters she wrote him between March and October of that year will be auctioned in May by RR Auctions of Amherst, N.H. It bought the letters two years ago from Pawley, who lives in Florida.
The unpublished letters — some written in purple fountain ink on pink paper — provide a glimpse of a teenager’s transition to adult screen star.
She frets about her weight ("As I’m sitting here — writing to you, I’m just stuffing myself on a box of candy — honestly I’ve got to stop eating so much") and passing her high school exams. And she contrasts two movies she was filming at the time, "A Place in the Sun" and "The Big Hangover," praising the director of the former and complaining about her role in the latter.
But mostly, she gushes about Pawley, the 22-year-old son of a former ambassador to Brazil, reassuring him over and over that her love is true.
"My heart aches & makes me want to cry when I think of you, and how much I want to be with and to look into your beautiful blue eyes, and kiss your sweet lips and have your strong arms hold me, oh so tight, & close to you … I want us to be ‘lovers’ always … even after we’ve been married seventy-five years and have at least a dozen great-great-grandchildren," she wrote on March 28.
At the time, Taylor was publicly dating football player Glenn Davis, but in several of the letters, she complains about the ruse promoted by her mother and the studio to maintain her girl-next-door image. In a 10-page letter dated April 1, she describes her reaction to Davis accidentally breaking a pair of earrings Pawley had given her.
"I have never had such a strong desire to hit anyone with all my might in all my life," she wrote. "I gave him back his ‘A’ pin, the football and his All-American sweater … I don’t care what they say anymore … from now on I’m going to live my life the way I want to."
In May, she told Pawley she was ready to say goodbye to her career and everything connected with it, "For I won’t be giving anything up — but I will be gaining the greatest gift that God bestows on man — love, marriage, a family — and you my Darling."
By September, however, Taylor was writing about returning her engagement ring at Pawley’s request.
"I know with all my heart and soul that this is not the end for us — it couldn’t be — we love each other too much," she wrote.
Less than eight months later, she married hotel heir Conrad Nicholson "Nicky" Hilton.
The online auction, set for May 19-26, will also feature letters Taylor’s mother wrote to Pawley after the engagement ended, including one in which she wrote, "You have a nervous condition and a problem with jealousy, as such you and Elizabeth can never be together."
Bobby Livingston, spokesman for the auction house, said the letters were estimated to be worth $25,000 to $35,000 before Taylor’s death, and he expects they could fetch two or three times that amount now.