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Richard Nixon's love letters to 'Irish gypsy' wife to go on display to the public

ARDENT love letters written by the future President Richard Nixon to the "Irish Gypsy" who would become his wife will go on display to the public this week.

Six of the dozens of romantic missives Nixon sent to Patricia Ryan during their two-year courtship are due to be unveiled on Friday to mark what would have been her 100th birthday.

They are said to show a softer side to the man who became infamous when he resigned from the White House in disgrace in August 1974 over the Watergate affair.

The couple met while auditioning for a community theatre production of "The Dark Tower" in the town of Whittier, southern California.

Nixon was obviously smitten, writing: "Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you.

"Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. Let's go for a long ride Sunday; let's go to the mountains weekends; let's read books in front of fires; most of all, let's really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours."

Another letter reads: "Somehow on Tuesday there was something electric in the usually almost stifling air in Whittier.

"And now I know. An Irish gypsy who radiates all that is happy and beautiful was there.

"She left behind her a note addressed to a struggling barrister who looks from a window and dreams.

"And in that note he found sunshine and flowers, and a great spirit which only great ladies can inspire."

In a more prosaic note, Nixon invited his future wife for a barbecue, saying: "In case I don't see you before why don't you come early Wednesday (6) – and I'll see if I can burn a hamburger for you."

Nixon stood down after being taped by a secret recording system set up in the Oval Office discussing his involvement in the cover-up of White House links to a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Nixon supporters say that it is unfair that the man who became known as "tricky Dicky" is now remembered largely for Watergate.

They hope the letters, written between 1938 and 1940, will show that the 37th president of the United States had a poetic side to his nature, experiencing true love with Mrs Nixon, who he called his "Irish gypsy".

Nixon died in 1994 aged 81, a year after his wife. The letters will go on display at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, in Yorba Linda, California – in the house where he was born.

Curator Olivia Anastasiadis said: "These letters are fabulous. It's a totally different person from the Watergate tapes that people know.

"President Nixon started out as an idealistic young man ready to conquer the world and with Pat Ryan he knew he could do it."

Ed Nixon, the president's brother, said that Pat took a little while to come return his ardour, but was soon as taken as he was.

"She was quite an independent young lady and she was very cautious about anyone she met and if they couldn't smile, she wouldn't want to do too much unless she could make them smile," he said.

Nixon proposed to Pat Ryan as they stood on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, presenting her with an engagement ring in a basket filled with mayflowers.

Robert Bostock, from the Richard Nixon Foundation, which is co-sponsoring the exhibit, said that the Nixons' love affair continued to their death.

"She was with him the whole way; she never lost faith in him, he said.

"Her feeling was that it was the country's loss when he had to resign, that he had accomplished so much good and had so much more good to accomplish."