The original source of the quote "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is unknown. The phrase was first published in Francis Davison's Poetical Rhapsody in 1602, where the words appear as the first phrase of a poem in the edition. However, the author of this poem was anonymous, and the identity of the writer remains unknown to this day.
The first known writer to pen these words was Thomas Haynes Bayly in 1844 in his ballad entitled the "Isle of Beauty." Even in modern times, the phrase "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" continues to have a profound place in and effect on society.
Thomas Haynes Bayly published his ballad "Isle of Beauty" in Bayly's two-volume Songs, Ballads, and Other Poems in 1844. The part of the ballad where the famous quotation appears reads as thus:
"What would not I give to wander/ Where my old companions dwell?/Absence makes the heart grow fonder:/Isle of Beauty, fare thee well!"
Interestingly, Bayly appears to be talking about a specific place that had a special place in his heart. Of course, there is an indication that he misses the people as well, but the title "Isle of Beauty" suggests that the actual place was meaningful to him.
However, the phrase has often been popularized to refer to long distance romantic relationships or lovers who are not sure when they will see each other again. The phrase also refers to families or friends who are separated. Therefore, in general, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" usually refers to people these days, and not to places.
Bayly lived from 1797 to 1839 and he was particularly known for the songs that he wrote, which numbered in the hundreds. Several of his songs were set to the music of famous composers, such as Sir Henry Rowley. He also set some of his songs to his own musical compositions. Aside from Thomas Moore, Bayly was regarded as the most popular song writer of his time.
Some of his most famous songs included "I'd Be a Butterfly," "She Wore a Wreath of Roses," "Oh, No, We Never Mention Him," "The Mistletoe Bough," and "Long, Long Ago." Bayly was also quite popular for his poetry and romantic ballads, such as the one the famous verse appeared in.
The phrase "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" has become extremely popular between individuals, amongst groups of people, and in pop culture and society. In fact, in 1925, a movie was produced with the same title.
Students study the literature of Baylyl in school, and long distance lovers write this phrase in letters and emails to each other. People have also added their own sarcastic flavor to this once romantic phrase, and now sometimes say "Absence makes the heart grow fonder-of somebody else!"
Perhaps people believe they are speaking the truth, or perhaps they are just putting a more modern twist on over 400 year old words. Whatever the case may be, despite the fact that we do not know who originally spoke or penned these words, a great deal of gratitude is owed to him or her for creating one of the staple phrases of society through the ages.