…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–Hiram (1805–1873) and Elizabeth (1809–1892) Powers

Hiram_Powers

Elizabeth Gibson PowersHiram Powers was an American neoclassical sculptor. In 1837 he moved to Italy, settling on the Via Fornace in Florence, where he had access to good supplies of marble and to traditions of stone-cutting and bronze casting. He remained in Florence until his death. Hiram and his wife became friends with the Brownings in Florence. His most famous sculpture was The Greek Slave. It toured America and was exhibited at the Crystal Palace in London. Viewing the exhibit in London, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was inspired to write her famous sonnet, “Hiram Power’s Greek Slave.” EBB-to-Powers-2

 Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Elizabeth Powers. [?30 November] [1854].

 In this letter Elizabeth Barrett Browning returns books that Elizabeth Powers lent to her for Pen to read. Pen’s favorite was The Pretty Village.

….He has read them himself, & had them read to him again  & again, –his particular favorite being ‘The Pretty Village’.

EBB-to-Powers

 Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Hiram Powers. [?20 February 1855].

In this letter Elizabeth asks for more books for Pen.

. . . My Penini has been delighted with several of the books & has read them all, & will be very glad to have others.

The Armstrong Browning Library’s holdings related to  the Powers include six Browning letters.

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Beyond the Brownings: William Shakespeare at the ABL

Illustration from The Tempest

Illustration from The Tempest in Nicolas Rowe’s 1709 edition

The Stokes Shakespeare Collection was given to the ABL by William N. Stokes, Jr., a former student of ABL founder Dr. A.J. Armstrong, and contains over 280 titles, including significant eighteenth-century editions of William Shakespeare’s collected works.  According to bibliographer Colin Franklin, the eighteenth century produced the first critical editions of Shakespeare’s works that attempted to correct errors introduced in earlier editions of single plays by previous editors, printers, and compositors.  The size of the volumes in which these new texts appeared also made them, for the first time, suitable for home reading.

Portrait of William Shakespeare

Portrait of William Shakespeare in Lewis Theobald’s 1733 edition

A number of the important eighteenth-century editions of Shakespeare’s works identified by Franklin in his book Shakespeare Domesticated are contained in the Stokes Shakespeare Collection.  Among them is the 1709 edition edited by playwright and later Poet Laureate Nicolas Rowe, which was the first illustrated edition of Shakespeare’s works and includes the first biography of Shakespeare.  The 1733 edition by Lewis Theobald contains extensive footnotes in which Theobald hotly debates other editors of Shakespeare’s works, namely Alexander Pope and William Warburton.  The 1765 edition by Samuel Johnson may, according to Franklin, be considered the first variorum edition of Shakespeare because notes appearing in all previous editions of Shakespeare’s works were reprinted so that they could be examined side by side.

Title Page from Johnson

Title page for Samuel Johnson’s 1765 edition

Other significant eighteenth-century editions of Shakespeare’s works in the collection include those by Alexander Pope (1723-1725), Thomas Hanmer (1744), Edward Capell (1767), Samuel Johnson and George Steevens (1773), John Bell (1786-1788), Edmund Malone (1790), and the “anonymous” edition of 1745.  Also in the collection is the Boswell-Malone variorum (1821).

Illustration from Macbeth

Illustration from Macbeth in John Bell’s 1788 edition

In addition to Shakespeare’s works, the collection contains a number of books relating to the Bacon-Shakespeare authorship controversy, a particular interest of the collection’s donor.  A list of the books in the Stokes Shakespeare Collection can be found in the Baylor Libraries’ Online Catalog, BearCat, and by clicking here.

Works Cited:

Franklin, Colin.  Shakespeare Domesticated:  The Eighteenth-Century Editions.  Scolar Press, 1991.  Print.

Shakespeare, William.  The Dramatick Writings of Will. Shakspere.  Eds. Samuel Johnson and George Steevens.  Vol. 10.  London:  John Bell, 1788.  Print.

Shakespeare, William.  The Plays of William Shakespeare.  Ed. Samuel Johnson.  Vol. 1.  London:  J. and R. Tonson, 1765.  Print.

Shakespeare, William.  The Works of Mr. William Shakespear.  Ed. Nicolas Rowe.  Vol. 1.  London:  Jacob Tonson, 1709.  Print.

Shakespeare, William.  The Works of Shakespeare.  Ed. Lewis Theobald.  Vol. 1.  London:  A. Bettesworth and C. Hitch, 1733.  Print.

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…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (1830–1908)

harriet hosmerHarriet Goodhue Hosmer was an American sculptor. While she was living and studying in Rome, she became associated with a group of women sculptors known as “The White Marmorean Flock.” She was also a frequent visitor at the Brownings’ home in Florence, Casa Guidi. Hosmer is remembered for her casting in bronze of the Brownings’ “Clasped Hands.”

EBB-to-Hosmer-firstEBB-to-HosmerEBB-to-Hosmer-1Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning to Harriet Goodhue Hosmer.  13 January 1856.

 Writing to Hosmer from Paris on 13 January 1856, Robert Browning says how much he misses “Hatty” and gives news about their common friends, Mrs. Sartoris, Leighton, Tennyson, Ruskin, and Carlyle. Elizabeth concludes by saying: “Be magnanimous & send us a long letter of absolution. You ought, being at Rome.”

 Hosmer-Ms-1

Hosmer-Ms-2Hosmer-Ms-3Hosmer-Ms-4Harriet Goodhue Hosmer. “Quaint twins well-mated, will you pardon one.” Autograph Manuscript. No date.

 In this poem of forty-four lines Hosmer asserts The ‘one thing needful’ to you both is Truth. It is inscribed by Hosmer on an integral page: Inscribed with the sincerest regard to Robert & Elizabeth Browning—by H.G. H. The poem was extracted from an unpublished volume of poems.

Hosmer-bookHarriet Goodhue Hosmer. Harriet Hosmer Letters and Memories, edited by Cornelia Carr. New York: Moffat, Yard and Company, 1912.

This collection of letters, edited by Cornelia Carr, long-time friend of Harriet Hosmer and published four years after her death, contains much of the Brownings’ correspondence.

The Armstrong Browning Library’s holdings related to Hosmer include one book, three letters, and one manuscript.

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from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–Kate Field (1838-1896)

Kate_Field_undatedKate Field was an American journalist, lecturer, and actress of eccentric talent. She never married, but she had a close relationship with Anthony Trollope. She became acquainted with the Brownings and other literary persons living in Florence. Field died of pneumonia in Honolulu. The Armstrong Browning Library’s holdings related to her include four books and  thirty letters.

RB-to-Kate-Field

Letter from Robert Browning to Kate Field.
[?late June 1859].

This letter conveys the box number for the opera that Browning and Field will attend that evening. Browning expresses his doubt that anyone else will come, except Isa Blagden.

Charles-Dickens-Kate-Field

Kate Field. Pen Photographs of Charles Dickens’s Readings. Taken from Life. Boston: Loring, [ca. 1868].

This booklet recounts the readings of Charles Dickens. Field likens her descriptions to a photograph. She describes the purpose of her book:

Their publication is induced by the hope of clinching the recollection of Mr. Dicken’s readings in the minds of  many; and . . . giving to those who have not had the good fortune to hear them, some faint outline of a rare pleasure, the like of which will ne’er come to us again.

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…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–Elizabeth Clementine Kinney (1810–1889)

Elizabeth_Clementine_KinneyElizabeth Clementine Kinney was an American writer, contributing frequently to periodicals such as Blackwood’s, The Daily Telegraph, and Knickerbockers. During a fourteen year stay in Europe she developed a close friendship with Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The Armstrong Browning Library’s holdings related to Kinney include two books, five letters, and two manuscripts.

EBB-to-Kinney-1EBB-to-Kinney-2Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Elizabeth Clementine Kinney. [ca. September 1854].

In this very interesting letter, Elizabeth Barrett Browning discusses the plans of Harriet Hosmer, Elizabeth Kinney, and herself related to dressing up as men in order to gain access to a monastery not far from the Porta Roma of Florence in order to view some Donnatello paintings. Their elaborate plan, however, was never realized.

Kinney-Casa-Guidi-WindowsEllizabeth Clementine Kinney.
“Stay!—come not here with unannointed eyes.”
Autograph Manuscript. Undated.

This sonnet is addressed to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and signed with Elizabeth Clementine Kinney’s iinitials. The poem is written on the end-pages of Casa Guidi Windows, London: Chapman and Hall, 1851.

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…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–Edward Oliver Wolcott (1848–1905)

Wolcott

Edward Oliver Wolcott was a prominent politician during the 1890s, serving as senator from Colorado from 1879 until 1882. His biographer, Thomas Fulton Dawson, observed that Wolcott had an overwhelming personality and “whatever he did, good or bad, he did on an unusual scale.” The last year of his life he traveled in Italy, hoping that a change of climate would aid his failing health, but he died in Monaco in 1905.

Wolcott-letter-3webWolcott letter-1Letter from Robert Browning to Edward Oliver Wolcott.
28 February 1887.

In this letter Browning thanks Wolcott for a “generous and beautiful gift” delivered to him by Joseph Charles Parkinson, journalist, civil servant, and social reformer. The gift, according to a letter from Wolcott to Browning on 13 January 1887, was a set of photographs of the Rocky Mountains and the Taos Indians.

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…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–Susan Howard

The Armstrong Browning Library owns a small album of manuscripts, letters, and printed items that contains memorials to Annie Howard, daughter of Susan and John Tasker Howard.  Annie died unexpectedly in Milan on 6 June 6 1860. The Howards, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the Brownings had shared acquaintances in Italy during that period. The tributes in the album were written by three well-known nineteenth-century figures—the anti-slavery preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, his novelist sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and poet Elizabeth Barret Browning. The album contains two letters from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Annie’s mother Susan and a copy of Barrett Browning’s “De Profundis,” written twenty years earlier following the drowning death of her dear brother, Edward. Stowe contributed a poem commemorating Annie to the album and a copy of Henry Ward Beecher’s funeral sermon was also included in the memorial album.

Memory-of-Annieweb Harriet Beecher Stowe. “To the Memory of Annie, who died at Milan June 6. 1860.” In the Annie Howard Memorial Album. Autograph Manuscript. [1860].

The two letters from Elizabeth Barrett Browning are beautiful expressions of condolences on the death of Annie.

EBB-to-Howard-2-1EBB-to-Howard-2-2EBB-to-Howard-2-3EBB-to-Howard-2-4Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Susan Howard. 14 August [1860].

Excerpts from the letter:

Villa Alberti, Siena—                                    August 14—

My dear Mrs Howard

I receive your letter, read it, hold it in my hands, with a sympathy  deeply moved. . . . Hearing of such things makes us silent before God. What must it be to experience them?—I have suffered myself very heavy afflictions, but the affliction of the mother I have not suffered, & I shut my eyes to the image of it—.

Only, where Christ brings His cross He brings his presence—& where He is, none are desolate—& there is no room for despair. At the darkest you have felt a Hand through the Dark—closer perhaps, & tenderer, than any touch dreamt of at noon. As He knows His own, so He knows how to comfort them—using sometimes  the very grief itself, & straining it to the sweetness of a peace unattainable to those ignorant of any grief—

. . . we write in most affectionate sympathy with you .. & your husband, .. may I add, while I sign this letter as your true friend

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

EBB-to-Howard-1-1EBB-to-Howard-1-2EBB-to-Howard-1-3EBB-to-Howard-1-4

Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Susan Howard. 12 March [1861].

Elizabeth, who had just lost her sister, Henrietta, expresses her sympathy for Susan Howard in these excerpts from the letter:

Rome. 126. Via Felice

March 12.

         My dear Mrs Howard, your letter came to me when I was in bitter need of comfort myself—What are we to say to others while our own heart faints? I had been in great anxiety for months, —& then at last came news from England, —& there was no more to fear. . . .

Before then, the pain you expressed & a sermon of Mr Beecher’s had reminded me of an old forgotten m-s. of mine (De Profundis) “written in my earlier manner” (say the critics) & referring to a great grief, —and I sent it for printing in the Independent- That was for you, & not for me—yet by the time it was printed  & came out here, some of it sailed me also thro’ a new trial. How the threads cross! —

. . . Dear Mrs Howard—when the young go away with hands full of unblown roses, who should lament that they did not stay to sit under leafless trees? —Why yearn for them to live to lose daughters?-Let us consider, of all our holy Dead, that the lessons they learn now are not learnt with pangs but easily, while they sit under the eyes of Him who loves them more than we ever could. . . .

Yours in affectionate sympathy
Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Annie-S.-HowardwebPhotograph of a painting of Annie S. Howard,

daughter of Susan and John Tasker Howard.

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…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896)

harriet-beecher-stoweHarriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and writer, most well-known for her novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a depiction of the lives of African Americans under slavery. She met Elizabeth Barrett Browning during a trip to England in 1856. In 1859-60 she traveled to Italy and became acquainted with the Brownings socially.

EBB-to-StowewebLetter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to
Harriet Beecher Stowe. [?24 March 1860].

In this letter Elizabeth Barrett Browning assures Stowe that she is not ill with “typhus,” but would like to reschedule their meeting until Monday.

Uncle-Tom's-Cabinweb Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 
London: J. Cassell, 1852.

Stowe’s anti-slavery novel sold 300,000 copies in its first year of publication in 1852.  In a letter to her friend Mary Russell Mitford, dated 15 March [1853], Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes of Stowe and her novel:

No woman ever had such a success, such a fame! No man ever had, in a single book. For my part I rejoice greatly in it. It is an individual glory full of healthy influence & benediction to the world.

sunny memories

Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands [2 vols.]. Boston:  Phillips, Sampson, and Company; New York:  J.C. Derby, 1854.

Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands was an account of Stowe’s travels in Europe in 1853 written for an American audience.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in a letter to Sarianna Browning on [18 September 1854], says she plans to read Stowe’s book:

[A]nd in the meantime Robert read aloud snatches caught out of the heart of it, to Isa Bladgen, Hatty Hosmer & me.

The Armstrong Browning Library’s holdings  related to Harriet Beecher Stowe include more than a dozen books and one letter.

 

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…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

John_Greenleaf_Whittier_webJohn Greenleaf Whittier was an American Quaker poet, associated with the Fireside poets, and a fervent abolitionist. In a letter to Lucy Larcom (1855), he described reading Robert Browning’s Men and Women as “taking a bath among electric eels.”

EBB-to-WhittierwebLetter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning to John Greenleaf Whittier. [20 October 1856].

This letter acknowledges Whittier’s gift to the Brownings of his book The Panorama and Other Poems (1856) and contains a “kind and gratifying word of sympathy” from him. In the letter the Brownings express their gratitude that Whittier has numbered them with his friends.

Whittier-Autogrpah-Album-174s2olThe letter is mounted in an Autograph Book which had belonged to Elizabeth Whittier Pickard, niece of John Greenleaf Whittier. The album also contains letters, notes, and autographs  by Julia  Ward Howe, Edward Everett, John Greenleaf Whittier, Phoebe Cary, U.S. Grant, Alice Cary, Emily  Faithfull,  Thomas  Wentworth  Higginson,  Ralph  Waldo  Emerson,  Bayard Taylor,  A. Bronson Alcott, Henry W. Longfellow, Daniel  Webster, Celia Thaxter,  William Cullen Bryant, Edward Everett, William Lloyd Garrison, Joaquin Miller, P.T. Barnum, Edward E. Hale, Oliver Wendell Holmes, George and Louis MacDonald, and many others.

The holdings of the Armstrong Browning Library related to John Greenleaf Whittier include over eighty books, fourteen letters, and an album owned by Whittier’s niece.

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…from America: The Brownings’ American Correspondents–James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

James_Russell_Lowell,_Brady-Handy_Photograph_Collection-copywebJames Russell Lowell was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor and diplomat associated with the Fireside Poets. The Fireside Poets, whose popularity rivaled English poets, used conventional meter, making the poems suitable for family reading by the fireside. Lowell and Elizabeth Barrett Browning corresponded, sharing volumes of poetry and an interest in anti-slavery issues. Later when Lowell visited in England and Europe, letters were exchanged with Robert Browning about their social engagements.

EBB-to-Lowellweb Letter from Elizabeth Barrett Browning
to James Russell Lowell.
17 December 1846.

The manuscript of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” was originally enclosed with this letter. The manuscript and letter have become separated; and, although the letter is at the ABL, the manuscript of the poem is in the Camellia Collection in London. In the letter Elizabeth Barrett Browning asks Lowell to 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.

Lowell-EBBwebElizabeth Barrett Browning. “Italy—1859—by Lowell.”
Autograph Manuscript. Undated.

This is a fair copy in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s hand of six verses written by James Russell Lowell, published under the title “Villa Franca.”

Lowell-to-Browning-1web

Lowell-to-Browning-2webLetter from James Russell Lowell to Robert Browning.
5 December  1883.

Lowell, living in London at this time, forwards a letter to Browning that has been mistakenly delivered to his address.  He says, I am sorry to say that I opened it without looking at the address. I read no further than ‘My dear Mr. Browning’ & am dying to know the rest. He then asks Browning about the weather in Venice and expresses a desire for Browning to return soon.

Lowell-MsswebJames Russell Lowell. “I asked of Echo: ‘what’s a good advisor?’” Autograph Manuscript. No date.

This poem, written on the back of an envelope, has never been published.

The Armstrong Browning Library’s holdings related to James Russell Lowell include over seventy books, sixteen letters, one Elizabeth Barrett Browning manuscript of Lowell’s poems, and one previously unpublished poem by Lowell. The ABL also has three Robert Browning titles that belonged to Lowell.—Pacchiarotto and How He Worked in Distemper, with Other Poems, The Ring and the Book, and Sordello.

 

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