Miss Valentine is a romantic tale of Esther Howland, “The Mother of the American Valentine,” who began a greeting card business in the mid-nineteenth century and made Valentine’s Day famous in this country. She was also one of the first women college students and first successful businesswomen in the United States.
Esther’s story is intertwined with her imagined fantasies about the legend of Saint Valentine who was in prison for performing marriage ceremonies against the Roman Emperor’s decree. While in prison, he falls passionately in love with the warden’s blind daughter. Throughout the play, Saint Valentine acts like a muse for Esther as she creates romantic Valentine cards. The story of Esther and Saint Valentine parallel each other as they both struggle with love affairs which seem they cannot last. At various points in the play, the cast forms tableaus, creating life-sized Valentine’s Day cards on stage, while the Valentine’s Day greetings or “mottos” are read aloud.