With love in the air as Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, Digital Scholarship Liaison Librarian Megan Martinsen decided to text mine the love letters of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning to see what discoveries she might make about the Brownings’ romance using digital tools. What she found she described in a recent blog post as “interesting, staggering, and heartwarming.” Read Megan’s full post here, and find the Brownings’ love letters with full transcriptions on the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections website.
Coloring enthusiasts get ready! The Armstrong Browning Library and more than 30 other special collections libraries and cultural heritage institutions are inviting you to #ColorOurCollections, an event organized by the New York Academy of Medicine Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health. From February 1-5, 2016, download images from the Armstrong Browning Library’s collection, color them, and share them on social media using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.
To download an image, click on the image below and then print or click on the image, right click, and “save image as” before printing. To download the coloring book version of the image, click on the link provided.
Special thanks to Eric Ames, curator of digital collections for the Baylor Libraries, for creating the coloring book pages for us!
The Grave, a Poem by Robert Blair. Illustrated by Twelve Etchings Executed from Original Designs [by William Blake]. London: Printed by T. Bensley, for the proprietor, R.H. Cromek, and sold by Cadell and Davies, [etc.], 1808. [ABLibrary Rare OVZ X 821.59 B635g]
Coloring book version: Blake Coloring Page
Coloring book version: Browning Coloring Page
The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Now Newly Imprinted. Ornamented with pictures designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and engraved on wood by W. H. Hooper. Upper Mall, Hammersmith, Middlesex: Kelmscott Press, 1896. [ABLibrary 19thCent OVZ PR1850 1896]
Coloring book version: Chaucer Coloring Page
Goblin Market and Other Poems by Christina Rossetti, with two designs by D. G. Rossetti. Cambridge, London: Macmillan and Co., 1862. [ABLibrary 19thCent PR5237 .G6 1862 and online]
Coloring book version: Rossetti Coloring Page
Aratra Pentelici. Six Lectures on the Elements of Sculpture, Given before the University of Oxford in Michaelmas Term, 1870 by John Ruskin. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1891. [ABLibrary 19thCent ND467 .R93 1891]
Coloring book version: Ruskin Coloring Page
Coloring book version: Shakespeare Coloring Page
By Derham Groves, Ph.D., University of Melbourne, Australia
Looking at the Armstrong Browning Library and Museum (ABL&M) from the street, the front façade resembles a Georgian-era bow-fronted sideboard, which is in keeping with the building’s overall function as a container for the Browning collection or, more specifically, a Browning cabinet of curiosities.
However, having read the correspondence between Dr. Armstrong and the two architects who separately were responsible for the design of the building, Wyatt C. Hedrick and Otto R. Eggers, and also having bummed around the ABL&M myself as a visiting scholar in December 2014 and January 2015, it was very clear to me that, architecturally speaking, Hedrick’s design of the exterior of the building fell short of Egger’s interiors and the marvelous Browning treasures housed inside the building.
While this was by no means the original intention of either the client or the architect, the ABL&M building’s rather dull exterior is very easily explained. Firstly, so much money had been spent on the interior that savings had to be made on the exterior.
Secondly, by the end of the long-drawn-out design and construction process, the relationship between Armstrong and Hedrick had deteriorated to such an extent that, putting myself in the architect’s shoes, I would have just wanted to finish the job as quickly as possible and move on to the next one.
Being an architect myself, my inclination was to put things right—albeit decades after the building’s completion. Inspired by the Baylor University community’s enthusiasm for lighting up the Christmas tree in December 2014, I wanted to likewise light up the ABL&M building.
In Melbourne, Australia, where I live, the ‘White Night Festival’ is held for one night only in February each year. On this occasion, many downtown buildings are magically transformed by projecting colours, images and patterns onto their facades. The same thing could very easily happen at the ABL&M.
So I asked the 110 Master of Architecture students who did my history and theory course, Popular Architecture and Design, at the University of Melbourne in semester two 2015 to design some light projections specifically for the front façade of the ABL&M.
The students focused on mainly four themes: (1) the idea that the ABL&M is a Browning cabinet of curiosities; (2) Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett’s love story; (3) the works of Robert Browning, in particular ‘The Pied Piper of Hamlin’ and ‘The Ring and the Book’; and (4) the influence of Dr. Armstrong. Following is a very small sample of their work.
By Colby Henderlite, ABL Graduate Assistant
On 15 June 1922, Baylor honored the 600th anniversary of the death of Italian poet Dante Alighieri with a public event. To celebrate, Baylor held a ceremony which not only honored the poet but also included speeches and gifts to the University. Baylor’s celebration was one of many held around the world to remember the great poet. Politicians from across the United States, including President Warren G. Harding and Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, sent greetings and tributes to Dante to be read during the ceremony at the request of Dr. A.J. Armstrong, chair of Baylor’s English Department and organizer of the event (“Dante Sei-Centennial Will Take Place at Baylor June 15”).
The ceremony included a speech by American poet and lecturer Richard E. Burton. It also included the presentation by Joseph P. Todaro, a Temple, Texas, businessman, of a bust of Dante to the University. Todaro, a native Italian, gave the bust to Baylor as a thank you gift to Dr. Armstrong who had helped him study English.
During the presentation of the bust, Todaro said, “I am most happy to be the means of securing and presenting this marble bust of the poet to this University as a token of my sincere friendship” (Todaro). The Carrara marble bust was made to resemble the famous statue of Dante in the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks accepted the gift on behalf of the University. Along with the bust, the Waco Tribune noted Todaro’s gift of a rare illustrated copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy “in handsomely embossed leather binding” (“Dante Sei-Centennial Will Take Place at Baylor June 15”). The bust, donated to Baylor on this day 93 years ago, is on display in the Research Hall of the Armstrong Browning Library.
“Dante Sei-Centennial Will Take Place at Baylor June 15.” Waco Tribune 11 June 1922. Print.
Lewis, Scott. Boundless Life: A Biography of Andrew Joseph Armstrong. Waco, Texas: Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University, 2014. Print.
Todaro, Joseph P. Signed typescript of speech by Joseph P. Todaro. Baylor University. Waco, Texas. 15 June 1922.
By Jennifer Borderud, Access and Outreach Librarian
Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) was a 19th-century photographer known for her portraits of Victorian celebrities and for her photographs depicting scenes from religious and literary works.
The Armstrong Browning Library has ten original photographs by Cameron. Five of these photographs are of Robert Browning who sat for Cameron in 1865 at the home of her neighbor Alfred Tennyson on the Isle of Wight.
Four additional photographs in the collection were gifts from Cameron to Browning and are inscribed by the photographer. These include a photograph of Julia Prinsep Stephen (née Jackson, formerly Duckworth, 1846-1895), Cameron’s niece and the mother of painter Vanessa Bell and writer Virginia Woolf; a photograph of English dramatist and poet Sir Henry Taylor (1800-1886) and Cameron’s maid Mary Ann Hillier (1847-1936) as Friar Lawrence and Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; a photograph titled La Madonna Aspettante, again featuring Mary Ann Hillier and William Frederick Gould (born 1861), a boy who lived near Cameron’s home; and a photograph of Anne Thackeray Ritchie (1837-1919), English writer and the daughter of novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.
The final photograph in the collection is of Hallam Tennyson (1852-1928), the eldest son of Alfred Tennyson.
The photographs have been digitized by Baylor’s Digital Projects Group and can be viewed here. Browning’s personal copy of his portrait by Cameron is on permanent display in the Research Hall of the Armstrong Browning Library.
Barlow, Helen. “Cameron, Julia Margaret (1815–1879).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004. Online edition, Oct. 2008. Web. 9 June 2015
Cox, Julian, and Colin Ford. Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, c2003. Print.
“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity that Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.
This month’s story was contributed by Ph.D. candidate Jeremy Land.
When he arrived at Baylor in 1922, Robert Frost was one of the most famous poets in America. He had yet to win many of the accolades that would come later in life, but he was well on his way to becoming the household name that he is today. By the time Dr. A. J. Armstrong asked Robert Frost to come and read at Baylor, the poet was already known for his dramatic monologues and innovative blank verse celebrating the lives of New England farmers. Many of his more famous works like “Mending Wall,” “Birches,” and “The Road Not Taken” were well on their way to becoming staples in the American literary canon and poems to study for many American students.
Because of this popularity Frost earned a series of teaching jobs and public readings around the country. However, his confessed love for “barding around, ” a phrase he used to describe his itinerate lecturer lifestyle, had not really brought him very far South, and it apparently would take some convincing before the poet would come to Baylor in 1922 (Burnshaw). To sell Frost on the merits of reading poetry in Texas, Dr. Armstrong relied on his relationship with other literary luminaries who had previously read here. It even took the efforts of fellow poet and mutual friend Carl Sandburg to write Frost on Dr. Armstrong’s behalf and promise him that “they [Baylor students] not only read a man’s books before he arrives but they buy them in record-breaking numbers” (Sandburg 213). We may never know whether or not Sandburg’s promise of profits and literate crowds was the tipping point in convincing Frost to come to Texas, but we can say that within a few months of Sandburg’s letter Frost arrived in Dallas for a five city tour of Texas universities. Throughout November of 1922, Robert Frost gave readings at Southern Methodist University, Mary Hardin Baylor, the City of Temple, and Southwestern University in Georgetown in addition to Baylor, all of course were arranged by Baylor’s own Dr. A.J. Armstrong. According to the Baylor Lariat , Frost was said to have enjoyed his time at Baylor so much that he frequently said over the next few years that he would like to return to Waco (“Robert Frost, Famous Poet Speaks Here” 1).
It may have taken him a decade, but in 1933 Dr. Armstrong again convinced the New England poet to return to Texas for a second reading. By that time Frost’s reputation as a poet had only grown exponentially. Just two years earlier, he won his second of four Pulitzer prizes for his collected works and was well on his way to completing his seventh volume of original poetry. When he arrived for the second time, Frost was greeted with close to 500 audience members all eager to hear him recite his most famous works (“Robert Frost, Famous Poet Speaks Here” 1). Ultimately, Frost’s two visits to Baylor left a lasting mark on the University. When he died in 1963, the Lariat dedicated two full pages to the poet’s life and praised his contribution to the American literary landscape. In the end, Robert Frost’s time at Baylor might be best summed up by the students themselves who claimed in their 1923 yearbook that Robert Frost’s visits “materially help[ed] put Baylor on the map” (The Round Up 161).
Burnshaw, Stanley. “Robert Frost.” American National Biography Online. American National Biography Online, Feb. 2000. Web. 5 June 2015
“Robert Frost, Famous Poet Speaks Here.” The Daily Lariat [Waco] 19 Apr. 1933: 1. Web. 5 June 2015
The Round Up. Ed. Enid Eastland. Vol. 22. Jefferson City: Hugh Stephens, 1923. 161. Web. 5 June 2015
Sandburg, Carl. Letter to Robert Frost. Summer 1922. The Letters of Carl Sandburg. Orlando: HBJ, 1968. 213. Print.
Learn more about Armstrong’s Stars in previous posts.
By Fabienne Moine, Senior Lecturer at Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense, France
I have been very lucky to be a Visiting Scholar to the Armstrong Browning Library for the third time. During my first visit in 2007, just after completing my PhD on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetical works, my project was to study the poet’s literary and cultural connexions with other female poets of her time. I had the good fortune to share my interest for female poets with Cynthia Burgess, Curator of Books and Printed Materials, who helped me discover and explore what has become my main field of research since then: Victorian women’s poetry, and in particular poems by non-professional and working-class women. In 2007, ABL had already collected more than 200 books of poetry written by women in English and published from 1800 to 1900. Being immediately bitten by the poetry bug, I developed an insatiable curiosity for poems by Victorian women. While reading most of the poetry books from this collection and growing familiar with all sorts of poets from very different social and geographical backgrounds, I became aware that a noticeable number of them were addressing gender-related issues on a recurring basis, either to support the preservation of heteronormative gender roles or to debunk patriarchal hegemony. Most of the time the poems presented an ambivalent position between renunciation and denunciation. Indeed it remains a conundrum for today’s readers to decipher the real message of Adelaide Procter (1825-1864) in her poetical trilogy “A Woman’s Question” (1858), “A Woman’s Answer” (1861) and “A Woman’s Last Word” (1861).
“A Woman’s Question”
Before I trust my fate to thee,
Or place my hand in thine,
Before I let thy future give
Color and form to mine,
Before I peril all for thee, question thy soul to-night for me.
I break all slighter bonds, nor feel
A shadow of regret:
Is there one link within the Past
That holds thy spirit yet?
Or is thy faith as clear and free as that which I can pledge to thee?
Does there within thy dimmest dreams
A possible future shine,
Wherein thy life could henceforth breathe,
Untouched, unshared by mine?
If so, at any pain or cost, O, tell me before all is lost.
Look deeper still. If thou canst feel,
Within thy inmost soul,
That thou hast kept a portion back,
While I have staked the whole;
Let no false pity spare the blow, but in true mercy tell me so. (Lines 1-20)
Are these poems invitations for women to fly with their own wings or to reintegrate into the domestic sphere after a magical interlude? Similarly, is “Japanese Fan” (1888) by Margaret Veley (1843-1887) preserving female sociability or hiding women’s real secrets?
‘While she spoke and while her slender
Hands would toy
With her fan, which as she swayed it
Might have been
Fairy wand, or fitting scepter
For a queen.
When she smiled at me, half pausing
In her play,
All the gloom of gathering twilight
Turned to day!
Though to talk too much of heaven
Is not well—
Though agreeable people never
Yet the woman who betrayed me—
Whom I kissed—
In that bygone summer taught me
I was ardent, she was always
So my lady played the traitor,
Oh, your pardon! But remember
If you please,
I’m translating—this is only
‘Japanese?’ you say, and eye me
Half in doubt;
Let us have the lurking question
Is all this about the lady
In that little square of writing
Near her head?
I will answer, on my honour,
As I can,
Every syllable is written
On the fan.
Yes, and you could learn the language
Shall I teach you some August
Afternoon? (Lines 139-180)
Encountering dozens of comparable cases, I realized that I could show how women devised regular poetical strategies while they renegotiated woman’s position and the social codes of gentility and gender. This widened perspective on women poets led me to complete my first study (in French) of the cross-fertilisation of genre and gender in Victorian women’s poetry, Le genre en jeu: Poésie et identité féminines en Angleterre 1830-1900 (Paris: L’Harmattan 2010).
In 2011, I returned to ABL to further my research on women poets of the nineteenth century, choosing this time to concentrate on nature and science-related poems. With the nineteenth-century women poets collection growing fast, more than 300 poetry books were made accessible. I rapidly came across unexpected poets, such as Isabella Southern (dates unknown), whose devotional poems skilfully integrate the scientific knowledge of her time; working-class Mrs. D.H. Gordon (aka “Violet”, dates unknown) who makes use of the fairy in the garden to suit her democratic ideal in “A Fairy Palace”, a poem about a city garden, probably Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline:
“A Fairy Palace”
I know a fairy palace
(‘Tis a greenhouse through the day),
There’s no moat, and no portcullis,
No seneschal, old and grey;
But there, at night, Queen Mab
Of late has taken her stay.
‘Tis in middle of a garden,
In a pleasant neighbourhood;
It has a gate and warden,
As a fairy palace should;
To see it and its surroundings
Would do any cynic good.
Round the round table, holly green,
At midnight on the clock,
You may behold the fairy queen
And all her elfin folk;
But I forgot, they are unseen
To all who go to mock. (Lines 1-18)
I also encountered “Sims” and “Prima Donna”, two cats whose operatic talents, wittily described by Alice E. Argent (dates unknown), tell much about the poet’s view of the flaws of the class system of her day:
Let others boast their singers fine—
Sims Reeves and Mary Davies,—
I know a greater far than these
A little ‘rara avis!’
She equals Santley’s purest notes,
Albani’s tuneful measure,
E’en Titiens cannot vie with her
Or give me half such pleasure.
For me she sits and sings all day,
A song that none can capture,
It is so fairy-like and low,
Yet, full of careless rapture.
Then can you wonder that my heart
Should fondly dote upon her,
And that within my world she stands
The only Prima Donna!
But you would like to know her name,
If she be young and pretty?
I think her both, but you don’t know
My dainty Persian Kitty!
Such eyes she has of golden brown,
As if the sun had caught them,
Like shining lamps—as if some sprite
With fire had made and wrought them.
And then what singer on the stage,
Dressed finely in the fashion,
Can rival her soft velvet fur
And gaze of wayward passion?
Or own a football half as light
With cushioned feet so tender,
And little ears so quaintly set
Upon a headpiece slender.
For me she sings with ne’er a thought
For money or for praises:
Oh! may her grave when she doth die
Be crowned with simple daisies.
Of cats she is the cat of cats,
The “Empress” is her title,
But hark! will any one take seats,
She’s giving a recital!!
And what about Mrs Louisa Campbell (dates unknown) who is guiding her young readers into deciphering the mysteries of nature, therefore improving both their knowledge of the natural world and their capacity to do good?
There are voices in the earth and air,
In the river and the sky,
In all things that are bright and fair,
In all that live or die.
There are voices in the garden flowers,
And in the wilding tribe,
In mosses that carpet winter hours,
And pleasant thoughts inscribe
Upon the path we chill-ly tread,
In our dreariest time of year,
When gayer beauties all have fled,
Or died of cold and fear.
Each has some story to relate,
Each has some tale to tell,
And children, it has been my fate
To know, love stories well.
Things speak not audibly ‘tis true,
But all have sculptured thought,
Or characters as plain to view,
If only they are sought.
Then let us wander through the wood,
Stroll onward far and nigh,
For unto him who learns to read,
Their pages open lie.
And we will ask things what they say.
Wherever we may go;
Thus doubtless, we shall every day,
Some little story know.
No doubt the Chartist poet Eliza Cook (1818–1889) is a case in point when one looks for the combination of social commitment and natural discovery. “The Song of the Seaweed” or “The Song of the Worm” are humorous poems, not without a certain healthy dose of cynicism, denouncing human cupidity and selfishness:
“Song of the Seaweed”
I am born in crystal bower,
Where the despot hath no power
To trail and turn the oozy fern,
Or trample down the fair sea-flower.
I am born where human skill
Cannot bend me to its will;
None can delve about my root,
And nurse me for my bloom and fruit;
I am left to spread and grow
In my rifted bed below,
Till I break my slender hold,
As the porpoise tumbleth o’er me,
And on I go—now high—now low—
With the ocean world before me. (Lines 1-14)
While exploring animal poetry, I found genuine poetical treasures such as Violet Fane (1843-1905)’s ” ‘Somebody’s Darling’ ” (1900), certainly alluding to Marie La Coste’s extremely popular memorial to the soldiers who fell during the American Civil War, but the “Darling” in Fane’s poem is a dusty stuffed dog kept in a Wardian case and waiting for some spendthrift client to have a crush on it:
“Here’s the very thing! I had nigh forgot!…
Just as good as new, in a splendid frame,
And so like real that I call him ‘Spot,’
As one never can know his proper name.”
And he took from a shelf in a secret place
A little stuff’d dog in a cracked glass case.
“You’re so fond of dogs, and I make no doubt
That this one has been a regular pet,—
There’s a stain on his collar that won’t come out,
But the bell’s real silver, and tinkles yet.
And then look at the sense in his head and his face;
Why, he’s just like Shakespeare in Hamilton Place!
“And observe the fire that he’s got in his eyes!
And they’re both of a most expensive make—
At the Crystal Palace he’d win a prize
For his eyes alone, and he’d ‘take the cake’
From all the rest! You may mark my word
He’s an animal fit to belong to a lord!
“…His hair comes off?…Why, of course it do!…
And so would yours in a place like this!
But just you take him and comb him through,
And pat him, and pet him, and give him a kiss;
And he’ll grow in beauty ever so much,
And get quite life-like under your touch!”
So he rattled on: “See his tail,—that pert!…
He’s the prettiest creature you ever saw,
Worth his weight in gold, and as cheap as dirt;
And look at the turn of that right-hand paw,
Held out so natural,—ready to shake,—
He’s been somebody’s darling and no mistake! (Lines 55-84)
My second visit to the ABL helped me deepen my knowledge in nature poetry, as I read hundreds of animal poems, flower poems, science poems, garden poems… With this almost limitless reserve of poems in my pocket, I completed my second book, this time in English, under the title Women Poets in the Victorian Era: Cultural Practices and Nature Poetry (Ashgate, due November 2015).
Returning to ABL in 2015, I have pursued a new research project that aims to explore more animal poems and to see how they address contemporary social issues such as vivisection, isolation, domestic violence, and the fear of the Other. I also examine how women use animal poetry to engage in religious questions such as the possible existence of an animal soul; and also how they contribute to the scientific debate following Darwin’s theory of evolution. While examining whether some animal poems challenge the normative cultural practices of the middle-class family, I look at how petkeeping is illustrated in poems, for example in animal biographies and autobiographies in verse – such as those of Ann Dorset (1753-1816) or Eliza Cook. I focus my attention on dogs in particular as I am concentrating on poems about pedigree and breeding – even if curs remain Victorian women poets’ favourites. I have come across some unusual but very funny pieces of poetry, though they deal with the very serious issue of battered women. “Monsieur Henry and His Dog” (1894) by Mrs Murray (Joanna Gregory Laing, 1823-1883?) is about a gentleman who is warned against treating his wife as he does his dog:
How d’ you do, Monsieur Henry? I hope you are well;
And how is Don Carlo, that wonderful swell?
I see in the park he is not to be seen,
And fear that at home he is ill with the spleen.
I hope that your treatment of him is judicious:
Is over-indulgence not making him vicious?
You cherish for him, sir, the highest opinion,
Although ’tis a truth he’s your foundling and minion.
When I saw Monsieur Carlo, your joy and your pride,
Just wander a moment in sport from your side,
I thought when your blows to your friend were so rife,
It is thus you would manage a beautiful wife.
Let me put you in mind how the mother of Byron,
By coaxing and beating did ruin her son,
This hour was a virtue which next was a sin;
Thus she made him unfit for the world he was in. (Lines 1-16)
“The Nightingale and the Pig” (1841), a fable by Elizabeth Sherwin (dates unknown) describes a very improbable and unsuccessful interspecies union, the pig treating the nightingale violently:
The fated nightingale grew sad,
And pined, though all around was glad;
She sighed, with aching heart, to be
As erst, unshackled, wild and free.
How ardently she longed to fly,
And skim again the clear blue sky,—
To gain once more her native bower,
And taste the sweets of mead and flower;
But firm was tied old Hymen’s knot,
Fluttering and struggling mattered not,—
It never made her woes the lighter,
And only pulled the noose still tighter.
No soft companion of her kind,
Was ever near to sooth her mind;
All—all had flown—affrighted by
The growling hog’s brutality,
At each complaint the songster uttered,
Pig only grunted, kicked and sputtered.
Quickly the gentle creature’s song
Was hushed, and as time rolled along,
She grieved alone, unseen, unheard,
A drooping solitary bird.
But soon the welcome hand of death
Received her last faint parting breath;
Like shadows at the close of day,
She sickened, faded, pass’d away.
Ye gentle maids, who now regard
A single state as very hard,
And with a husband hope to find
More bliss of heart, more peace of mind,
Be cautious how you choose a mate—
Scan well to whom you link your fate:
Avoid the strutting, whiskered elf,
Who blusters and extols himself,
Who visits inns each night, and swears;
Love’s eating, drinking, and cigars;
Or to repent you’ll never fail,—
Be wise,—think of the nightingale. (Lines 107-144)
The two poets’ feminist views are exposed in a very efficient way as animal poetry gives strength to their denunciation of domestic oppression and violence.
Digital humanities have considerably contributed to facilitate access to precious information previously reserved for a chosen few. Since my first visit in 2007, most women’s poetry books have been indexed and fully digitized, offering access to 467 works so far. Access from afar to these wonderful pieces of poetry is extremely valuable: now poems about dogs, peacocks, birds of passage or dormice are served on a silver platter to distant scholars. This being said, there is nothing like holding an old poetry book, gently turning its pages, feeling the quality of the paper and even indulging in the smell of rare books. And, far more important, is the kindness of the ABL staff, always making sure you conduct your research in the best possible way and consistently making themselves available to help you find the perfect gem.
To learn more about the Armstrong Browning Library’s Visiting Scholars Program, visit our website.
“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity who Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.
This month’s story was contributed by Amanda Mylin, graduate assistant, The Texas Collection.
When renowned African-American singer Marian Anderson was not permitted to sing in the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall in Washington, D. C., in March 1939, the nation reacted (in large part) with astonishment. Anderson is quoted in an article published in the Baylor Lariat saying, “It shocks me beyond words that after having appeared in the capitols of most of the countries of the world, I am not wanted in the capitol of my own country” (“D.A.R. and Americanism,” 2).
Eleanor Roosevelt’s response was the most notable: the First Lady protested the move by resigning from the DAR, and encouraging a concert at an even more prominent venue. Anderson performed a free open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, April 9, encouraged and arranged by the First Lady, Anderson’s manager, Walter White of the NAACP, and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes.
In the midst of this drama, Anderson came to Baylor. Two weeks before her famed Easter concert, Anderson performed at Baylor University’s Waco Hall at the behest of Dr. A. J. Armstrong and Sigma Tau Delta. She was the first African-American soloist to grace the Hall. Her March 27 performance included an array of spirituals and compositions by Handel, Schubert, and Carissimi. The Baylor Lariat for March 3 stated that Sigma Tau Delta had taken the “liberal side of the week’s race question” by selecting Marian Anderson to perform (“Negro Singer Will Follow First Lady,” 4). The same article also noted that Mrs. Roosevelt would speak in Waco Hall on March 13, two weeks before the concert. A nationwide commotion had found its way to Baylor’s campus in a small capacity.
Anderson’s performance was well-received by the Waco audience even though it was primarily formed of a distinct “cross-section of the community’s white citizenship.” The Waco News-Tribune for the next day stated that this turn-out “was pretty much proof that the DAR of Washington, D. C., acted in silly fashion to say the least” (“Marian Anderson is Well Received by Waco Audience”). Furthermore, this article mentioned that Anderson’s well-attended performance was an instance of a slow but steady “solution of a leading American problem.”
Interestingly enough, even Waco Hall remained segregated for Anderson’s concert, with a special portion of the balcony reserved for African-Americans. Eventually, Anderson would insist upon what she called “vertical” seating for her concerts, with available seats throughout the auditorium reserved for African-Americans, and by 1950, she refused to sing for segregated audiences. Yet in the wake of the Constitution Hall incident, Anderson was pleased to perform at Baylor by invitation of Dr. Armstrong.
Although Anderson was in a hurry and allegedly declined to discuss her recent deterrence by the DAR and the First Lady’s defense of her attempt to perform, she did offer a small informal interview to the Baylor Lariat. She had never been to Waco and commented on the beauty of driving through the Texas countryside from San Antonio. Her enthusiasm and unstoppable energy seemed to bubble over as she explained, “I think America offers vast unlimited opportunities for youthful singers who have the seriousness and determination to become great artists no matter what their race or color” (“Eleanor Roosevelt Versus D.A.R. Feud is Closed; Field Unlimited, Says Anderson,” 1).
“Negro Singer Will Follow First Lady,” Baylor Lariat, March 3, 1939.
“D.A.R. and Americanism,” Baylor Lariat, March 23, 1939.
“Eleanor Roosevelt Versus D.A.R. Feud is Closed; Field Unlimited, Says Anderson,” Baylor Lariat, March 28, 1939.
“Marian Anderson to Sing in Waco Hall: Famous Conductor Says Negro Artist is Best Living in This Day,” Baylor Lariat, March 22, 1939.
“Marian Anderson is Well Received by Waco Audience,” The Waco News-Tribune, March 28, 1939, Newspapers.com (accessed April 9, 2015).
When Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, visited the White House in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln purportedly welcomed her by saying, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!” But Stowe was not alone. As the Baylor University Libraries observe the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War by mounting exhibits under the overarching theme “with charity for all,” taken from President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, the Armstrong Browning Library’s exhibit Imagining Charity for All highlights works by some of the men and women who, like Stowe, used their literary talent to promote freedom and equality. The items on display from the collection of the Armstrong Browning Library represent a small, but powerful, portion of the large body of anti-slavery writings produced prior to and during the Civil War that furthered the cause of ending slavery.
Imagining Charity for All is on display in the Hankamer Treasure Room of the Armstrong Browning Library through June 1, 2015. Items on display can also be viewed below.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s best-known work Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which originally appeared in serial format in the weekly newspaper The National Era from 5 June 1851 to 1 April 1852, became an immediate bestseller when it was published in Boston as a book in two volumes in 1852. The anti-slavery novel sold 300,000 copies in the United States and 1.5 million copies in Great Britain in its first year of publication and was translated into over 60 languages. This London edition was published the same year in one volume, with illustrations by George Cruikshank. [ABLibrary 19thCent PS2954 .U5 1852]
Harriet Beecher Stowe. The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Presenting the Original Facts and Documents Upon Which the Story Is Founded. Together with Corroborative Statements Verifying the Truth of the Work. London: Clarke, Beeton, and Co., 148 Fleet Street; and Thomas Bosworth, Regent Street, .
Responding to critics who challenged her depiction of slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe published The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1853, which contained documentary evidence in the form of newspaper accounts and legal proceedings to support the claims she made in her novel. [ABLibrary 19thCent E449 .S896 1850z]
Little Eva; Uncle Tom’s Guardian Angel. Composed and Most Respectfully Dedicated to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Poetry by John G. Whittier. Music by Manual Emilio. Boston: Published by John P. Jewett & Company; Cleveland, Ohio: Jewett, Proctor & Worthington, 1852.
As part of his efforts to increase the circulation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe’s American publisher John P. Jewett commissioned John Greenleaf Whittier to write a poem about the novel’s young abolitionist character Little Eva. The poem, which first appeared in the anti-slavery newspaper The Independent, was set to music by Manuel Emilio. [ABLibrary 19thCent Jumbo M1619.5.E45x L5 1852]
[Harriet Beecher Stowe]. Pictures and Stories from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Boston: Published by John P. Jewett & Co., .
This version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published by John P. Jewett as part of his Juvenile Anti-Slavery Toy Books series, was “designed to adapt Mrs. Stowe’s touching narrative to the understandings of the youngest readers and to foster in their hearts a generous sympathy for the wronged negro race of America.” [ABLibrary 19thCent OVZ PS2854 .U5 1853c]
This version of Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was adapted for children by Catherine Crowe (1790–1872), an English writer best known for her novels, including The Adventures of Susan Hopley, or, Circumstantial Evidence (1841), The Story of Lilly Dawson (1847), and The Night Side of Nature, or, Ghosts and Ghost Seers (1848). [ABLibrary Offices]
Stowe wrote her second anti-slavery novel Dred in response to the violence that broke out between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces in Kansas following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed white male settlers in those territories to determine through popular sovereignty whether they would allow slavery within each territory. The novel was popular, selling over 100,000 copies in its first month of publication. [ABLibrary 19thCent PS2954 .D7 1856 v.1-2]
John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier. Anti-Slavery Reporter. A Periodical, Containing Justice and Expediency; or, Slavery Considered with a View to Its Rightful and Effectual Remedy, Abolition. Vol. 1, No. 4. New York: Issued monthly, and for sale at the book stores, September, 1833.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was a Quaker, a popular American poet, and a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society. In this pamphlet published in 1833, he called for the immediate and unconditional emancipation of slaves. With 5,000 copies printed and distributed for free by abolitionist Arthur Tappan, this appeal publicly aligned Whittier with the anti-slavery cause and made him a leading figure of the abolitionist movement. [ABLibrary 19thCent OVZ HT1031 .W54x 1833]
The Constitution of the American Anti-Slavery Society: with the Declaration of the National Anti-Slavery Convention at Philadelphia, December 1833, and the Address to the Public, Issued by the Executive Committee of the Society, in September 1835. New York: Published by the American Anti-Slavery Society, 1838.
Whittier signed the Declaration of the National Anti-Slavery Convention in 1833, an action he considered more important than any of his literary achievements. The Anti-Slavery Declaration is reprinted in this pamphlet along with the Constitution of the American Anti-Slavery Society. [ABLibrary 19thCent OVZ HT853 .A53x 1838]
John Greenleaf Whittier. Poems Written During the Progress of the Abolition Question in the United States, Between the Years 1830 and 1838. Boston: Published by Isaac Knapp, 1837.
Whittier’s anti-slavery poems, which appeared in various periodicals during the 1830s, were published collectively in this volume in 1837 by Isaac Knapp, publisher of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. The volume begins with a tribute to William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), a prominent abolitionist, editor of The Liberator, and a founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society. [ABLibrary 19thCent PS3250 .E37a]
Narrative of James Williams, an American Slave, Who was for Several Years a Driver on a Cotton Plantation in Alabama. New York: Published by the American Anti-Slavery Society; Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1838.
Despite widespread attacks on escaped slave James Williams’s credibility, the American Anti-Slavery Society published this account of Williams’s life as an enslaved man in Virginia and Alabama. John Greenleaf Whittier, who was working as the secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society at the time, met Williams, heard his story firsthand, and produced the text for this narrative, which he stated in the preface to the published work “presents an unexaggerated picture of slavery as it exists on the cotton plantations of the South and West.” [ABLibrary 19thCent E444 .W743 1838]
John Greenleaf Whittier. Poems. Philadelphia: Published by Joseph Healy; Boston: Weeks, Jordan & Co.; New York: John S. Taylor, 1838.
This collection of Whittier’s poems was edited by Whittier and published by Joseph Healy, financial agent of the Anti-Slavery Society of Pennsylvania. The volume contains 24 anti-slavery poems and 26 poems on miscellaneous subjects. Whittier placed the following quotation from Samuel Taylor Coleridge on the book’s title page:
“There is a time to keep silence,” saith Solomon; but when I proceeded to the first verse of the fourth chapter of the Ecclesiastes, “and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun, and beheld the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of the oppressors there was power;” I concluded this was not the time to keep silence; for Truth should be spoken at all times, but more especially at those times when to speak Truth is dangerous. [ABLibrary 19thCent PS3250 .E38 c.2]
John Greenleaf Whittier. The Branded Hand. [Salem, Ohio: The Anti-Slavery Bugle, 1845].
Whittier wrote The Branded Hand in response to an event in 1844 in which a tradesman named Jonathan Walker tried to help seven slaves escape by boat from Florida. Walker was caught, tried, convicted in a federal territorial court, and branded with the initials “S.S.” for “slave stealer,” which is depicted on the first page of this tract. Walker was considered a hero by abolitionists and images of his branded hand and literary praises like Whittier’s were widespread. [ABLibrary 19thCent OVZ E450 .W17]
John Greenleaf Whittier. Voices of Freedom. Sixth and Complete Edition. Philadelphia: Published by Thomas S. Cavender; Boston: Waite, Pierce and Co.; New York: William Harned, 1846.
The introductory note to this collection of anti-slavery poems states:
Since the last edition was issued, several years have passed, and a new and vigorous host has entered the service of Freedom. With all classes, Whittier has been a favorite Poet; and the publication of his writings, especially those devoted to that cause, seems to be generally desired. These are all included, it is believed, in the present collection.
[ABLibrary 19thCent PS3269 .V6 1846]
The headnote to Whittier’s poem “A Sabbath Scene,” appearing in the Riverside Edition of The Writings of John Greenleaf Whittier (1888) reads:
This poem finds its justification in the readiness with which, even in the North, clergymen urged the prompt execution of the Fugitive Slave Law as a Christian duty, and defended the system of slavery as a Bible institution.
Passed by the United States Congress on 18 September 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law required that all escaped slaves be returned to their masters upon capture. Law enforcement officers and citizens in the free states were expected to comply with this law. [ABLibrary 19thCent OVZ PS3265 .S2 1854]
The first page of Whittier’s poem “A Sabbath Scene.”
Letter from John Greenleaf Whittier to Lucy Larcom. 10 January 1863.
In this letter to poet Lucy Larcom (1824-1893), Whittier mentions the work of Charlotte Forten (later Grimké, 1837-1914), an African-American anti-slavery activist, poet, and educator, who taught freedmen in the South Carolina Sea Islands in a program known as the Port Royal Experiment. He also reflects on the outcome of the Second Battle of Murfreesboro, which had been fought from 31 December 1862 to 2 January 1863, resulting in Confederate withdrawal from Middle Tennessee.
Thee remember our young colored friend Charlotte Forten. She is now teaching at Port Royal, & we have been favored with her journal for the last two weeks. It is lively & picturesque. How well, on the whole, the poor contrabands behave!
The gloom of the war is broken by the lurid light of the Murfeesboro battle. One cannot help admiring the daring of Rosecrans—snatching by his own personal prowess victory from the very jaws of defeat. I shudder to think of the lives that must be sacrificed to open the Mississippi at Vicksburg. Ah me! It is hard to be a Quaker at these times! Yet never was I more convinced of the truth of our principles, than now.
John Greenleaf Whittier. In War Time and Other Poems. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1864.
Whittier’s poem “At Port Royal,” first published in the Atlantic in 1862 and reprinted in this collection of poems, contains the “Song of the Negro Boatmen,” in which Whittier imagines the singing of the slaves who were freed in the South Carolina Sea Islands after Union forces captured Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861. Written in dialect, the poem became a popular song during the Civil War. [ABLibrary 19thCent PS3259 .I5 1864]
The “Song of the Negro Boatmen” begins:
Oh, praise an’ tanks! De Lord he come
To set de people free;
An’ massa tink it day ob doom,
An’ we ob jubilee.
De Lord dat heap de Red Sea waves
He jus’ as ‘trong as den;
He say de word: we las’ night slaves;
To-day, de Lord’s freemen.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We’ll hab de rice an’ corn:
Oh, nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
Lydia Huntley Sigourney
Lydia Huntley Sigourney. Poems by Mrs. L.H. Sigourney. Philadelphia: Key & Biddle, 1834.
Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791-1865) was a popular American poet in the early and mid-nineteenth century, who supported rights for women and the abolition of slavery, among many other reform causes. Her poem “Slavery: Written for the Celebration of the Fourth of July,” first published in this collected edition of Poems, was set to music in 1844 by lyricist and composer George W. Clark in his anti-slavery songbook The Liberty Minstrel. [ABLibrary 19thCent PS2830 .A2 1834]
What hand with shameful stain
Hath marred its heavenly blue?
The yoke, the fasces, and the chain,
Say, are these emblems true?
This day doth music rare
Swell through our nation’s bound,
But Afric’s wailing mingles there,
And Heaven doth hear the sound:
O God of power!—we turn
In penitence to thee,
Bid our loved land the lesson learn—
To bid the slave be free.
Eliza Lee Cabot Follen
Eliza Lee Cabot Follen. Poems by Mrs. Follen. Boston: William Crosby & Company, 1839.
Eliza Lee Cabot Follen (1787-1860) was an editor, biographer, novelist, poet, playwright, children’s author, and lifelong abolitionist. Her Poems, published in 1839, includes political and religious verse, translations from German, and poems about slavery, including “Children in Slavery” shown here. [ABLibrary 19thCent PS1683 .F4]
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), author of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline, was one of the most popular American poets of the nineteenth century. He expressed his public support of abolitionism in this volume of poems, published in 1842. Considered the most overtly political of his writings, Longfellow composed seven of the eight poems in this small volume on his return voyage to the United States after visiting with and being inspired by radical poet Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810-1876) in Germany and Charles Dickens (1812-1870) in England. [ABLibrary 19thCent PS2265 .A1 1842]
Beware! The Israelite of old, who tore
The lion in his path,–when, poor and blind,
He saw the blessed light of heaven no more,
Shorn of his noble strength and forced to grind
In prison, and at last led forth to be
A pander to Philistine revelry,–
Upon the pillars of the temple laid
His desperate hands, and in its overthrow
Destroyed himself, and with him those who made
A cruel mockery of his sightless woe;
The poor, blind Slave, the scoff and jest of all,
Expired, and thousands perished in the fall!
There is a poor, blind Samson in this land,
Shorn of his strength and bound in bonds of steel,
Who may, in some grim revel, raise his hand,
And shake the pillars of this Commonweal,
Till the vast Temple of our liberties
A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poems on Slavery. [Boston]: Published by the New England Anti-Slavery Tract Association, J.W. Alden, Publishing Agent, Boston, .
Seven of Longfellow’s anti-slavery poems from his volume Poems on Slavery (1842) were reprinted by the New England Anti-Slavery Tract Society and distributed for free. [ABLibrary 19thCent OVZ PS2265 .A1 1843]
Although he did not return to the theme of slavery in his poetry after 1842, Longfellow did express hope for a reconciliation between the northern and southern states in the poem “Christmas Bells,” which he wrote on Christmas day in 1863 after his son Charles Appleton Longfellow, a soldier in the Union army, was severely injured in the Battle of New Hope Church in Virginia. The poem later served as the basis for the carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” [ABLibrary 19thCent PS2271 .F5 1867 c.2]
While visiting Charles Dickens in England in 1842, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow read Dickens’s recently-published American Notes for General Circulation, a travel book recounting Dickens’s visit to the United States earlier that year. Dickens offered a scathing critique of the institution of slavery in the penultimate chapter of this book, which English critic John Forster described as “one of the most powerful, effective antislavery tracts yet issued from the press.” [ABLibrary 19thCent E165 .D53 v.1-2]
English writer and journalist Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) traveled extensively throughout the United States from 1834 to 1836 and recorded her observations in two books, Society in America (1837) and Retrospect of Western Travel (1838). In both books, Martineau expressed her opposition to slavery which she witnessed firsthand during her travels, finding the practice inconsistent with the idea of American democracy. [ABLibrary 19thCent E165 .M38 v.1-2]
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) wrote “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” for the Boston anti-slavery annual The Liberty Bell, published from 1839 to 1858. Barrett Browning was invited to contribute the poem for publication by Maria Weston Chapman (1806-1885), longtime editor of the annual, and poet James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), a correspondent of Barrett Browning’s since 1842. [ABLibrary Rare X 326 C466l 1848]
In a letter written to her American friend Cornelius Mathews in early 1847, Barrett Browning makes these comments about sending the manuscript of the poem to America:
My conscience has been restless about it ever since, (whenever I thought that way,) but neither head nor heart were at liberty sufficiently to do anything. What I have sent at last, my belief is, will never be printed in America, or will, if it should be, bring the writer into a scrape of disfavor. But I did only write conscientiously, you know, in writing at all; and my “Cry of the Children,” was not less written against my own country.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point.” Autograph Manuscript. Undated.
This is the first part of a draft of “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point,” which includes stanzas 1-13, without stanza 7. In this draft, the poem is titled “Black and Mad at Pilgrim’s Point.” Robert Browning has annotated the draft in pencil.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point.” Autograph Manuscript. Signed “EBB.” Undated.
This final part of the above draft includes stanzas 27-36. On the final page of the manuscript, Robert Browning has enclosed Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s initials and his written word “my” in strong brackets. The middle part of the draft, including stanzas 14-26, is at the British Library. All three parts are annotated by Robert Browning.
Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to James Russell Lowell. 17 December 1846.
Enclosed with this letter to James Russell Lowell was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s manuscript of the “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point.”
In the letter, she refers to her recent marriage and to her concern regarding the reception of the poem:
And now for this Slave-poem, which at the eleventh hour, I enclose to you. I ought to have at once answered your request last year, & should have done so but was driven by a great wind of vexatious circumstances, altogether from my purpose. Driven up & down, distracted from writing & reading I have been since, too, .. & you will make allowances for me in remembering that I am only three month’s married, & in the sudden glare of light & happiness, here in Italy, after my long years of imprisonment in sickness & depression, without so much as the hope of this liberty. Ill or well, sad or joyful, however, the great antislavery cause must always be dear to me,—and for the sake, I will say, as much of American honour as of general mercy & right– In the poem I enclose to you I have taken up this double feeling, (with an application of the case to women especially) perhaps you will think too bitterly & passionately for publication in your country. I do not presume to decide—I leave it entirely, of course, to your judgement– I will only say, for my own part, that in writing this poem, I have not forgotten, as an Englishwoman, that we have scarcely done washing our national garments clear of the dust of the very same reproach. Neither would I have it forgotten by any of you, that I have written this poem precisely because, as an Englishwoman ought, I love & honour the American people.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “An Ode to America.” Manuscript Draft. .
This draft, contained in a notebook belonging to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and acquired by the Armstrong Browning Library in 2008, was likely written by the poet around the time she was writing “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point.” The poem was not published during Barrett Browning’s lifetime, but a transcription of this draft was included in The Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, edited by Sandra Donaldson, in 2010.
The Liberty Bell by Friends of Freedom. Boston: National Anti-Slavery Bazaar, 1856.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “A Curse for a Nation,” denouncing slavery in America, first appeared as the opening poem in the 1856 issue of the Boston anti-slavery annual The Liberty Bell. Barrett Browning wrote the poem in response to a request from her Boston anti-slavery contacts just as she had responded some years earlier with “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point.” [ABLibrary Rare X326 C466l 1856]
Printer’s copy of “A Curse for a Nation.” .
This printer’s copy of “A Curse for a Nation” shows Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s corrections and additions for publication in The Liberty Bell of 1856.
“A Curse for a Nation” proved to be one of Barrett Browning’s most controversial works when it was reprinted as the last poem in her Poems Before Congress (1860). The majority of the poems in this volume criticized England for its nonintervention in Italy’s struggle for liberation, leading English reviewers to believe that the curse was directed at England not America. Barrett Browning maintained that the poem was about America, but wrote to a friend:
In fact, I cursed neither England nor America … the poem only pointed out how the curse was involved in the action of slave-holding.
This copy of the first American edition of Poems Before Congress, published under the title Napoleon III in Italy and Other Poems, bears an inscription by J.S. Guitean, dated 3 July 1860, to E.N. Biddle, a Union general in the American Civil War. [ABLibrary Rare X 821.82 L F818n c.4]
Frances Anne Kemble
Frances “Fanny” Anne Kemble (1809-1893) was a famous British actress and writer. In 1834, she married Pierce Butler, an American who, two years later, inherited his grandfather’s cotton and rice plantations on the Sea Islands of Georgia. In an effort to convince Fanny, an abolitionist, of the benefits of slavery, Butler took her to the plantations in the winter of 1838-1839. While there Fanny wrote letters to friends and kept a diary. These writings documented her observations of slavery and circulated, against her husband’s wishes, among New England abolitionists. Eventually published in 1863 during the Civil War as Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation, the book was a best-seller. Fanny separated from her husband in 1845, and the marriage ended in divorce in 1849. [ABLibrary Rare X 975.803 K31j 1863]
Basker, James G., ed. American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation. New York: Library of America, c2012. Print.
Calhoun, Charles C. Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Boston: Beacon Press, c2004. Print.
Clinton, Catherine. Fanny Kemble’s Civil Wars. New York: Simon & Schuster, c2000. Print.
Currier, Thomas Franklin. A Bibliography of John Greenleaf Whittier. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1937. Print.
De Rosa, Deborah C. Into the Mouths of Babes: An Anthology of Children’s Abolitionist Literature. Westport, Connecticut; London: Praeger, 2005. Print.
Donaldson, Sandra, general ed. The Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 5 vols. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2010. Print.
Gerson, Noel B. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Biography. New York: Praeger, 1976. Print.
Gray, Janet, ed. She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the 19th Century. London: J.M. Dent, 1997. Print.
Hansen, Andrew C. “Rhetorical Indiscretions: Charles Dickens as Abolitionist.” Western Journal of Communication 65.1 (2001): 26-44. Web. 11 March 2015
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, c2015. Web. 11 March 2015 <https://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/>
Hedrick, Joan D. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life. New York; Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.
Martineau, Harriet. Writings on Slavery and the American Civil War. Ed. Deborah Anna Logan. DeKalb: Northern Illinois UP, c2002. Print.
Stone, Marjorie, and Beverly Taylor, eds. Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Selected Poems. Buffalo, New York: Broadview Editions, 2009. Print.
Trent, Hank, ed. Narrative of James Williams, an American Slave. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2013.
Woodwell, Roland H. John Greenleaf Whittier: A Biography. Haverhill, Massachusetts: Published under the auspices of The Trustees of the John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead, 1985. Print.
“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity who Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.
This month’s story was contributed by Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection.
While A.J. Armstrong’s stars included celebrities with little to no connection to the Brownings—his primary area of interest—some had very deep affiliations with the poets. In fact, a few of the stars played them!
Katharine Cornell visited Baylor twice, both times in relation to her role as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Rudolf Besier’s play, The Barretts of Wimpole Street. The part became her signature role, one she started playing in 1931. According to her 1974 New York Times obituary, “The Barretts” ran for a year on Broadway, and then Miss Cornell shepherded her company on a 20,853-mile tour of the United States, a daring venture in the Depression…” Cornell was “actress-manager” for this performance, and her husband, Guthrie McClintic, was director.
Of course, Armstrong could not miss an opportunity to have this production come to Baylor, and the tour made a stop in Waco in 1934. In her obituary, Cornell is quoted saying, “‘The Barretts’ never played to an empty house—the receipts would be something like $33,000…so we came back having more than broken even. We really felt prideful.” Additionally, Cornell, along with Brian Aherne (playing Robert Browning), performed this production for servicemen and women during World War II in USO Camp Shows.
It was thus fitting that when Armstrong’s efforts came to fruition at the dedication of the Armstrong Browning Library on December 2 and 3, 1951, Cornell would be a part of the festivities. The library was a $2 million facility and called “a shrine to the poet, Robert Browning.” Armstrong stated it is “not far below the Taj Mahal in beauty.” For such a special occasion, the dedication called for a grand ceremony.
Well-known in the world of Browning enthusiasts, and those of the stage and Broadway, Katharine Cornell was the main speaker for the event. Waco Hall was the venue for Cornell’s appearance in what A.J. Armstrong called the “the cultural and literary dedication program” for the new Armstrong Browning Library. Although Basil Rathbone played Robert Browning in the 1934 touring production, Brian Aherne was the original Robert, “brought from his native England by Miss Cornell,” and he came with Cornell to the dedication.
On the day of the event, Ms. Cornell received an honorary Doctor of Laws during a dedication convocation. Aherne, as well as notable Baylor figures D.K. Martin, Marrs McLean, Herbert Dunnico, and A.J. Armstrong, received the same honor. Robert Roussel of the Houston Post, upon witnessing a portion of the dedication, commented: “It was indeed an inspirational day… All the humane arts were represented, and the theatre was as handsomely served as it could have been with Katharine Cornell and Brian Aherne as its messengers.”
Roussell uses the term “messengers,” and Katharine Cornell rightly served the part as one for the Brownings’ legacy. That legacy lives on in the portrait that adorns the wall of the Armstrong Browning’s Austin Moore-Elizabeth Barrett Browning Salon, as well as her other donations such as the shadow box depicting a scene from the “Barretts” stage production. Further, her impact far beyond Baylor as “messenger” for Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning in her role in the “Barretts” made many audiences more familiar with their poetic works while entertaining and bringing joy to many along the way.
“Baylor Opens World Shrine to Poets…,” Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX.), Dec. 2, 1951.
“Broadway Stars To Be Here For Browning Dedication,” Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX.), Nov. 4, 1951.
Campbell, Reba. “Waco Dedicates Its Taj Mahal,” Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX.), Dec. 4, 1951.
“Death Claims Dr. ‘A’,” Baylor-Line, v.16 (March-April, 1954): p. 5.
Roussel, Hubert. “Some Out-of-Town Drama With Cornell In a Leading Role,” The Houston-Post (Houston, TX), Dec. 9, 1951.
Katharine Cornell Papers, Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University.
Thomas E. Turner, Sr., Papers, Accession #2200, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
Whitman, Alden. “Obituary: Katharine Cornell is Dead at 81,” The New York Times (New York City, NY), June 10, 1974.
Learn more about Armstrong’s Stars in previous posts, and see more photos of Katharine Cornell’s 1950 visit to Baylor in our Flickr slideshow below.
Created with flickr slideshow.