The Valentine’s Day love note from a secret admirer has an evil twin—the “vinegar valentine” from a hidden hater. When mass-produced valentines replaced handmade ones in the Victorian era, satirical valentines were as available as sentimental ones. Vinegar valentines, ancestors of poison pen letters and trolls’ tweets, ridiculed their recipients and sometimes drove them to suicide or assault.
Sending cards with poems of love and friendship to mark Valentine’s Day became common in the 18th century. This practice grew out of an earlier tradition of gift-exchange between lovers on that day. In pre-Victorian England, valentines were handmade and resembled today’s cards in their depiction of flowers or other symbols of love along with sentimental verses. To avoid triteness, poetically-challenged men and women had to resort to annual pamphlets like Every Lady’s Own Valentine Writer, in Prose and Verse for the Year 1794… More here.
An interesting and dark twist to read on a special day.