The Joseph Milsand Archive in the Armstrong Browning Library & Museum

Joseph Milsand (1817-1886), French literary critic and philosopher and long-time friend of Robert Browning, became known to English and French readers through his critical writings on English literature which included, besides notices of the Brownings, articles on Thomas Carlyle, Alfred Tennyson, and William Blake. Milsand’s book-length study of John Ruskin, L’Esthetique anglais (Paris, 1864), was the first comprehensive French assessment of Ruskin’s work. Milsand’s interest in philosophy and religion resulted in numerous publications, among which were articles on the Quakers, English philosophers, modern French Protestantism, and an important evaluation of Martin Luther, Luther et le serf-abitre (Paris, 1884), a book recommended by William James, who said of its author: “He is undoubtedly a man of genius with an insight into the deepest relations of things.

The Joseph Milsand Archive, now owned by the ABL&M, contains over 4,000 autograph letters as well as numerous rare books, pamphlets, journals, photographs, drawings, newspapers, and albums. It includes original manuscripts of nearly all of Milsand’s known writings, together with a large number of annotated proofs and most of his printed works, documenting his career from the age of 20 until his death. Over 62,000 manuscript pages of Milsand’s articles, essays, study notes, and personal journals (mostly handwritten in French) record his thoughts and observations.

Source: Introduction to The Milsand Archive written by Browning scholar and publisher Mr. Philip Kelley. Mr. Kelley arranged for the Milsand family to sell the Archive to the ABL&M. Also, Kelley’s Wedgestone Press has, thus far, published 19 volumes of a projected 40, of The Browning Correspondence.

Kelley, Philip et al. (Eds.) The Brownings’ correspondence. 19 vols. to date. (Wedgestone, 1984-) (Complete letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning to 1853.)

The Milsand Archive contains over 60,000 items, mostly in French, relating to Browning, the Milsand family, and the Anglo-French literary scene from the 1860s to 80s. Additional information about the Library’s collections is also available in the online Browning Guide. Source: Armstrong Browning Library & Museum website.

Robert Browning & Joseph Milsand:

RB and Milsand were close friends from the early 1850’s until Milsand’s death in 1886.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *