Happy Birthday, Darling !

During the key points in his life, the actor Richard Burton kept a private record of events, writing on and off until just a year before his death, at the age of 58, in August 1984. The bulk of the diary focuses on the tempestuous years when he was married (twice) to Elizabeth Taylor. It was written knowing Taylor would read it and often teases her mercilessly — as well as including her stinging, handwritten ripostes.

"Saturday 30th September 1967, Paris: At about 12 noon, I did something beyond outrage. I bought Elizabeth the jet plane we flew in yesterday. It costs, brand new, $960,000. She was not displeased."

Forests have been felled chronicling their volcanic love affair. But never before has Richard Burton and Liz Taylor's relationship been laid bare with such passion and intimacy as these diaries, which his widow Sally has allowed to be published in full.

 Elizabeth Taylor, actress and her fifth and sixth husband, actor Richard Burton in front of their jet after arriving at RAF Abingdon. The HS 125 jet was a birthday present for Elizabeth Taylor from Richard Burton

Elizabeth Taylor, actress and her fifth and sixth husband, actor Richard Burton in front of their jet after arriving at RAF Abingdon. The HS 125 jet was a birthday present for Elizabeth Taylor from Richard Burton

Extract taken from 'The Richard Burton Diaries', edited by Chris Williams, published by Yale University Press.