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Browning-Monclar collection

Call Number: GEN MSS 84
Scope and Contents

The Browning-Monclar Collection contains correspondence and other papers of Robert Browning and Amédée de Ripert-Monclar, as well as related material. The papers span the dates 1825-1865, but the bulk of the material dates from between 1825 and 1850.

The collection is divided into two series. Series I, Browning-Monclar Papers , is housed in three boxes. It consists of letters and memorabilia of Robert Browning and correspondence, writings, and personal papers of Ripert-Monclar. Series II, Related Papers, housed in one box, contains correspondence, notes, and writings about the Browning-Monclar letters. There are two boxes of Oversize material.

Series I documents the life of Amédée de Ripert-Monclar, including his friendship with Robert Browning, which began during Monclar's 1834 trip to England. Material related to Browning has been placed at the beginning of Series I. The collection contains nine letters from Browning to Monclar, three of them in French, and one draft of a letter by Monclar to Browning. Topics include current French and English literature, English politics, Bentham's economic theories, Monclar's reviews and articles, and family news. Several of the letters provide detailed commentary on Browning's poetry. In a letter of August 9, 1837, Browning describes "the circumstances under which my poems were produced." Part of this account is very similar to his later explanation of the origins of Pauline. Three letters contain discussion of Paracelsus, which Browning published in 1836 and dedicated to Monclar. The letter of March 2, 1835 contains an account of the poet's theories which closely resembles the published Preface to Paracelsus. Also present is an album given by Monclar to Browning. While some of the album's contents date from after Browning's death, it also contains a portrait of Monclar and other memorabilia.

Monclar's analysis of the poem, the "Paracelse: Pensée," is located in Box 1, folder 21. The manuscript is interleaved with Browning's own corrections and amplifications of Monclar's comments, including a lengthy passage in which Browning explains the major themes of the poem. The collection also contains letters from Browning to W. J. Fox and H. F. Chorley concerning the publication of Paracelsus and letters of introduction by William and Reuben Browning. Further mentions of Browning can be found in Monclar's two English travel journals (Box 1, folders 27-28).

Nearly all of Monclar's personal papers were contained in numbered and/or labeled dossiers. These were organized by M. Barruol, who purchased the Monclar papers in 1937. As this order may reflect Monclar's original organization, it has been retained.

There are eighteen numbered dossiers and two supplements. Dossiers 1, 2 and 4 contain autobiographical notes by Monclar, including lists of important dates and events. Dossier 3 holds notes, drafts of notes, and essays, mostly dating from Monclar's student years. Dossier 5 consists of journals kept by Monclar in 1830 and 1831, while he was living in Avignon. Subjects include the July Revolution and its effects on Monclar, economics, Monclar's visits to the salon of Madame Recamier, and his impressions of a performance by Paganini.

Monclar's journeys to England are documented in Dossiers 6-9. Dossier 6 is titled "Voyage à Londres en 1834" and consists of a "Plan for Visiting London in Eight Days," a daily expense record, and a daily journal with brief entries. Several comments refer to visits with Robert Browning and the Browning family. Also mentioned are Monclar's calls on the Duke of Wellington. "Voyage à Londres en 1837," Dossier 7, holds similar records. Dossier 8, "Angleterre-Observations, anecdotes," contains drafts of essays on various English subjects, including one which opens "Le peuple anglais est le plus matérialiste de ceux qui habitent l'Europe." Dossier 9 contains the calling cards collected by Monclar while in England.

The next four dossiers are concerned with Monclar's writings, both published and unpublished. Dossier 10 consists of drafts, notes, and clippings about Machiavelli, perhaps for a projected article. Manuscript chapters of Monclar's unfinished "Histoire des institutions de crédit" are located in Dossier 11. Dossier 12 contains the drafts and corrected proofs of the Catéchisme financier. Finally, printed copies of three of Monclar's works can be found in Dossier 13. (For copies of other works by Monclar, see Box 3, folders 63-66).

The remaining dossiers are miscellaneous in nature. Numbers 16 and 18 hold letters addressed to Monclar. Dossier 16 is composed of brief business letters from various persons, among them Chateaubriand and Guizot. Ten short business letters by the Marquis de Fortia and ten by the Baron de Vitrolles are located in Dossier 18. A variety of personal papers is found in Dossier 17. These include two public appeals to the Duchess de Berry; an obituary notice for the Comtesse de Ripert-Monclar; notes kept by Monclar during his 1848 campaign for an Assembly seat; and a few letters. The dossiers labelled "Supplément" and "Feuilles diverses" are equally heterogeneous, containing such items as drafts of business letters, an essay on the Salon of 1834, and an incomplete essay on the idea of Genius.

Printed works can be found in Box 3, folders 63-67. These include copies of the Catéchisme financier and the Essai sur...le marquis de Fortia d'Urban, as well as Fortia d'Urban's Essai sur l'immortalité de l'âme.

Series II, Related Papers , is located in Box 5. It is divided into two sections. The first concerns Fernand Henry, who studied the Browning-Monclar papers and attempted to have Browning's letters to Monclar published. This section contains his correspondence with Monclar's son. Topics include biographical information and copyright negotiations. Also located in this section are Henry's correspondence with potential publishers, his transcripts of the Browning material now in Series I, notes, and a draft of his unpublished article, "Un chapitre d'histoire littéraire." The second section of Series II contains correspondence, notes, and a typescript of an article by Richard L. Purdy.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Browning-Monclar 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

The Browning-Monclar Collection was donated to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Richard L. Purdy in 1984.

1825 - 1965
Majority of material found within 1825 - 1850
3.25 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Related Names
Ripert-Monclar, A., comte de, 1807-1871
Language of Materials