Getty Images/Erin McCarthy
Getty Images/Erin McCarthy

A Brief History of 8 Epic Breakups

Getty Images/Erin McCarthy
Getty Images/Erin McCarthy

Breaking the traditional romantic comedy mold, Jo Piazza's hilarious debut novel Love Rehab: A Novel in Twelve Steps starts with the breakup. And like many a Kelly Clarkson song, this summer read is inspired by all the crazy things we do in the name of love, and its conclusion. Inspired by her book, Jo assembled this list of real-life break-ups so heartbreaking, they went down in history.

1. When Theseus abandoned Ariadne

Back in the ancient days of yore, Ariadne’s father, the Cretan King Minos, put her in charge of his most prized possession—his labyrinth. Ariadne developed a crush on the Athenian hero Theseus and gave him a thread in order to help him find his way out of the deathly maze to defeat the beastly Minotaur.

Theseus was grateful, but not grateful enough. He later abandoned Ariadne while she slept on the island of Naxos. Talk about leaving a girl out in the cold. 

2. When Julius Caesar broke up with Cossutia

Back when Julius Caesar was still an up-and-coming military man, he was engaged to a modest young lass named Cossutia. Historical accounts disagree as to whether the pair actually made it official and tied the knot, but what is known is that Caesar ended the relationship to forge a union better suited to his upwardly mobile agenda and ultimately married the politically well-connected Cornelia Cinnilla, who helped him launch his career as a Roman ruler.

3. When Henry VIII beheaded Anne Boleyn

The ever-fickle King Henry VIII found it difficult to ditch his wife of three years, Anne Boleyn, when she was unable to bear him a son. He had already become infatuated with Anne’s second cousin Jane Seymour. Instead of changing church law to rid himself of his unwanted wife, Hank trumped up treason charges and had Anne beheaded. You could say that is moderately worse than being dumped by Post-it.

4. When Abraham Lincoln un-proposed to Mary Owens

Long before he became president and before he met the spunky Mary Todd, young lawyer Abraham Lincoln found himself in a prickly position with a Kentucky woman named Mary Owens. Mary’s sister Elizabeth had been trying to hook up the pair, despite the fact that they had never met. Lincoln, ever the jokester, told the meddling sibling that he would marry Mary if she moved to Illinois.

He sent a series of letters to Mary to convince her that she wanted nothing to do with him or Illinois-living: “You have not been accustomed to hardship, and it may be more severe than you now imagine,” he wrote.

It might have been easier to avoid proposing (even in jest) in the first place.

5. When Wallis Simpson dumped Ernest Aldrich Simpson

The shipping tycoon Simpson left his first wife to marry the socialite Wallis Spencer. The businessman shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when Wallis stepped out herself and began an affair with Edward the Prince of Wales. Wallis eventually left her husband for Edward, forcing him to choose between the crown and his lady. He famously abdicated his throne on her behalf and the pair spent the rest of their lives being very rich together at fabulous parties around the globe.

6. When Matt Damon left Minnie Driver

Damon and Driver, co-stars in the star-making “Good Will Hunting,” had been seeing each other for seven months when Boston-bred Damon took to Oprah’s couch to tell her national audience that he was single. The news came as a complete surprise to Driver, who became the media’s poster girl for bad breakups—until Jennifer Aniston stole her thunder.

7. When Brad Pitt cheated on Jennifer Aniston

The most lucrative celebrity split in the history of celebrity splits is none other than the failed union of America’s sweetheart and the sexiest man alive, Brad Pitt.

The perfect tabloid storm kicked off in 2005 when Pitt ditched Aniston for the sultry Angelina Jolie. The daughter of actor Jon Voight and model Marcheline Bertrand, Jolie was the anti-Aniston. She had attended her first wedding, to British actor Jonny Lee Miller, in black rubber boots and a white t-shirt decorated with the groom’s name written in her blood, while thousands of women across the U.S. were asking their hairdressers to give them layers like their favorite Friend’s.

Jolie and Pitt met while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and rumors of their on-set affair proved true when Aniston filed for divorce from Pitt in March of 2005. One month later, Peter Grossman, photo editor of US Weekly magazine, paid $500,000 for paparazzi pictures of Pitt and Jolie frolicking on a beach in Kenya with Jolie's young son Maddox. In January 2006, Jolie announced that she was pregnant with Pitt’s child. The paychecks for pictures would only get bigger.

8. Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren

Little did former nanny turned mom of two Elin Nordegren know, when she attacked her golfer husband Tiger Woods with a golf club, that it would become the marital spat heard round the world.  It was soon revealed that Woods had cheated on the beautiful Swede with at least ten mistresses. Maybe she should have used the 9-iron.

Jo Piazza is the author of Love Rehab: A Novel in 12 Steps. You can get the book here.

Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
Larry Ellis, Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.

Getty Images
11 Incredible Stephen Hawking Quotes
Getty Images
Getty Images

When Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at age 21, doctors thought he'd only survive a few more years. But the theoretical physicist defied the odds: Hawking, who passed away yesterday, lived to be 76. Here are 11 quotes from the director of research and founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time


"At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided."

— From the lecture "My Brief History," 2010


"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010


“I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.”

— From a lecture at Arizona State University, April 2011


"If you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well. In my opinion, one should concentrate on activities in which one's physical disability will not present a serious handicap. I am afraid that Olympic Games for the disabled do not appeal to me, but it is easy for me to say that because I never liked athletics anyway. On the other hand, science is a very good area for disabled people because it goes on mainly in the mind. Of course, most kinds of experimental work are probably ruled out for most such people, but theoretical work is almost ideal. My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that people in general are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can."

— From "Handicapped People and Science," Science Digest 92, No. 9, September 1984


"I would go back to 1967, and the birth of my first child, Robert. My three children have brought me great joy."

— To The New York Times, May 2011


"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."

— From Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays


"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


"Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010

9. On HIS I.Q.

"I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers."

— To The New York Times, December 2004


“They are a complete mystery.”

— To New Scientist, January 2012


"One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


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