Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning collection
Scope and Contents
Series II, Elizabeth Barrett Browning Papers, contains manuscripts and correspondence. Manuscripts include autograph drafts of Casa Guidi Windows; Last Poems; Poems and Sonnets; and The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point. Corrrespondence includes letters to Hugh Stuart Boyd, Cornelius Mathews, Mary Russell Mitford and John Ruskin; the collection also contains letters from Harriet Martineau to Barrett Browning (housed in an album in Box 8).
- 1835-1906 1850-1889
- Majority of material found within 1850 - 1889
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
3.63 Linear Feet ((7 boxes) + 1 broadside folder + 1 object storage item)
Language of Materials
Robert Browning (1812-1889)
In 1845 he met the more successful and popular poet Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861); they eloped in September, 1846 and moved to Italy, where they spent the next fifteen years, mainly in Florence and Asolo. Browning published Men and Women, the collection of dramatic monologues that are now among his best-known works, in 1855. Following his wife's death in Florence in 1861, Browning returned to London and became a member of London's literary circles. Dramatis Personae appeared in 1864. Four years later, The Ring and the Book, Browning's longest and most ambitious work, was published, and was both very popular and critically acclaimed.
In his later years, Browning traveled often, returning to Italy for several visits with his son "Pen" (Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning). "Browning Societies," reading groups that met to discuss and promote Browning's works and philosophy, were founded throughout England and the United States during the 1880s. Robert Browning died at his son's home, Ca' Rezzonico in Venice, on December 12, 1889.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
After she moved with her family to London in 1838, Elizabeth was introduced to several literary figures, including Mary Russell Mitford, who became a close friend and mentor. Her health worsened, however, and by 1841 she was mostly confined to her upstairs room at 50 Wimpole Street. Her 1842 poem The Cry of the Children raised support for one of the first child labor laws; her collection of Poems, which appeared two years later, was a great popular and critical success.
It was also the occasion of her meeting Robert Browning, who sent her an admiring letter; the two met in 1845, and carried on a year-long courtship before eloping in September, 1846. During this time, she wrote the now-famous Sonnets from the Portuguese. On hearing of her marriage, her father disinherited her, and the two never spoke again. The Brownings moved to Italy shortly after their honeymoon, settling in Florence. There, Elizabeth's health improved, and in 1849 she gave birth to the couple's only child, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning ("Pen").
Browning continued to write and to publish. In addition to several collections of poems, in 1851 she published Casa Guidi Windows, a longer poem which expressed her passionate support for the Italian Risorgimento. Aurora Leigh, her "novel-poem" narrating the emotional and intellectual development of a woman poet, was published in 1856. It was extremely popular; nineteen editions appeared before 1885, and it was admired by many contenporaries, including George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, and Susan B. Anthony, for its outspokenness on the condition of women and the sexual "double standard."
Elizabeth's health failed rapidly after 1857. Her last publication, Poems Before Congress (1860), again exrpressed her support for the Italian revolutionaries and criticized the British for not coming to their aid. It was not well received in England. Elizabeth Barrett Browning died in Casa Guidi, Florence, on June 29, 1861. Her posthumous Last Poems were published by Robert Browning in 1862.
This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing, in 2012.
The finding aid for this collection is largely compiled from individual catalog cards for each acquisition that were created at or around the time of receipt by the library. Information from the catalog cards was repurposed in the finding aid in accordance with current archival descriptive standards. Some catalog cards, filed with the collection, include more detailed descriptions of individual items and/or provenance notes. Descriptions for items not represented by catalog cards were derived from accession records, folder labels, or other available descriptive material. Some items are accompanied by transcripts or other explanatory material; this is not generally noted in the finding aid.
- Authors, English -- 19th century -- Archives
- Bindings (gathered matter components) -- 19th century
- Bindings (gathered matter components) -- 20th Century
- Blagden, Isa, 1816-1873
- Boyd, Hugh Stuart, 1781-1848
- Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861
- Browning, Robert, 1812-1889
- Commonplace books -- Great Britain -- 19th century
- Conway, Moncure Daniel, 1832-1907
- Deschamps, Charles William, 1848-1908
- Drawings (visual works) -- Great Britain -- 19th century
- Edwards, Amelia B., 1831-1892
- English drama -- 19th century
- English literature -- 19th century
- English poetry -- 19th century
- Hill, Frank Harrison, 1830-1910
- Landor, Sophia Ann
- Macready, William Charles, 1793-1873
- Martineau, Harriet, 1802-1876
- Mathews, Cornelius, 1817-1889
- Mitford, Mary Russell, 1787-1855
- Moscheles, Felix, 1833-1917
- Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
- Scrapbooks -- Great Britain -- 19th century
- Story, William Wetmore, 1819-1895
- Williams, J. D., Rev.
- Women authors
- Guide to the Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning Collection
- by Beinecke Staff
- February 2012
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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