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Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning collection

 Collection
Call Number: GEN MSS 839

Scope and Contents

The Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning Collection is a mixed-provenance collection of material by and related to Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Series I, Robert Browning Papers, contains a few manuscripts by him, as well as many letters, most written after the death of Elizabeth. Recipients include Mrs. Bayne; Isabel Jane Blagden; Moncure Conway; Charles Deschamps; Frank Hill; William Charles Macready; Felix Moscheles, and William Wetmore Story. Letters to Browning include an extensive series of literary letters from J. D. Williams, as well as letters from Sophia Ann Landor and Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards.The series also contains a few photographs of the Brownings, and artwork and a commonplace book by Browning's father, Robert Browning (1781-1866).

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).

Dates

  • 1835-1906 1850-1889
  • Majority of material found within 1850 - 1889

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired by gift and purchase from various sources between 1932 and 1991, as noted on individual folders or on the catalog cards included with the collection.

Arrangement

Organized into two series: I. Robert Browning Papers, 1835-1906. II. Elizabeth Barrett Browning Papers, 1838-1861.

Extent

3.63 Linear Feet ((7 boxes) + 1 broadside folder + 1 object storage item)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.brownings

Overview

The Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning collection is a mixed-provenance collection of material by and related to Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Series I, Robert Browning Papers, contains a few manuscripts by him, as well as many letters, most written after 1870. Recipients include Mrs. Bayne; Isabel Jane Blagden; Moncure Conway; Charles Deschamps; Frank Hill; William Charles Macready; Felix Moscheles, and William Wetmore Story. Letters to Browning include an extensive series of literary letters from J. D. Williams, as well as letters from Sophia Ann Landor and Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards. The series also contains a few photographs of the Brownings, and artwork and a commonplace book by Browning's father, Robert Browning (1781-1866). 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 a scrapbook in Box 8).

Robert Browning (1812-1889)

Robert Browning, one of the most influential Victorian poets, was born into an Evangelical family in Camberwell in South London. Educated largely at home, Browning as a young man read and traveled widely. His father subsidized his first, relatively unsuccessful publications, including several plays and the much-ridiculed long poem Sordello (1840).

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) Elizabeth Barrett Browning, popular Victorian poet, was born in England to prosperous landowning parents and spent most of her childhood and adolescence at Hope End, the family's 500-acre estate in Herfordshire. Educated at home, Barrett began writing poetry when very young and continued to write despite frequent ill-health, publishing three collections in the 1830s as well as popular Abolitionist poems, including The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point.

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.

General note

Many items in elaborate late nineteenth and early twentieth century collectors' bindings.

Processing Information

The Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning Collection is comprised of material formerly classed as MS Vault Shelves Browning, Uncat MS Vault File Browning Elizabeth, Uncat MS Vault File Browning, Robert, Uncat MS Vault 27, Uncat MS Vault 53, Uncat MS Vault 686, and Uncat MSS 544.

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.
Title
Guide to the Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning Collection
Author
by Beinecke Staff
Date
February 2012
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977