Beyond the Brownings–Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

Arnold at ABLexhibitCourtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Matthew Arnold, a poet and cultural critic, was employed as Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools. He is best remembered for his critical essays, Essays in Criticism (1865) and Culture and Anarchy (1869), and his poems, particularly “Lines From the Grand Chartreuse” and “Dover Beach.”

The Armstrong Browning Library has a large collection of Matthew Arnold materials, which includes fifty-seven letters and over 130 books, many rare editions. Arnold was a friend and correspondent of Robert Browning.

Arnold-June-10-1webArnold-June-10-2webLetter from Matthew Arnold to Frank Preston Stearns. 10 June 1886.

This unpublished letter outlines Arnold’s travel plans in America.

 … tomorrow I go to Washington, & shall be going from there to Buffalo, Niagara and Canada.


Letter from Matthew Arnold to Lady Portsmouth. 9 July [1851].

This letter to Lady Portsmouth, daughter of the Third Earl of Carnarvon, who resided at Highclere Castle, accompanied Arnold’s gift to her children.

I remember you told me last year that some of your children liked “The Forsaken Merman.” I give myself the pleasure of sending you, for their benefit, what I think is rather a pretty volume, just published, containing that poem with others of mine.

 The Strayed Reveler, a collection of Arnold’s poems, was the volume that contained “The Forsaken Merman”:



Forsaken-Merman-8Forsaken-Merman-1webForsaken-Merman-2webForsaken-Merman-3webForsaken-Merman-4webForsaken-Merman-5webArnold, Matthew. The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems. London: B. Fellowes, 1849.

This is a very rare book. Virtually the entire edition was withdrawn and destroyed. This book was a gift from James Payn, an editor and novelist in the nineteenth century, to L. S. Hammond.

Arnold-January-9,-1868web Letter from Matthew Arnold to James Holden. 9 January 1868.

Arnold belittles his own recently published volume of poems.

 It is not worth while expending your envelope on such a trifling piece of information as that I published about five months ago, with Messrs Macmillan, a volume of Poems bearing the title of New Poems.



Arnold, Matthew. New Poems. London: Macmillan and Co, 1867.

This volume, to which Arnold refers in the accompanying letter, is a first edition from the library of Charles Kingsley. Tipped into the volume is a letter from Matthew Arnold to Keningale Cook, 26 March 1886. In the letter Arnold discusses his upcoming trip to America and his subsequent inability to review Dr. Cook’s book.

Arnold-to-Cox-1web Letter from Matthew Arnold to Keningale Cook. 26 March 1886.

…. I have been abroad to make some enquiries for the Government about schools, and have only just had your letter on my return. I am so busy with my report, and a projected visit to America that there is no chance of my being able to review your book…

Beyond the Brownings–William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

Thackerary ABL 2Courtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

William Makepeace Thackeray is most remembered for his satiric novel Vanity Fair (1847-48). He also became editor of the very successful Cornhill magazine in 1860. Although during the nineteenth century Thackeray’s popularity ranked second only to Dickens, today he is much less read and is known almost exclusively for Vanity Fair.

The Armstrong Browning Library holds thirteen letters written by Thackeray and over sixty books authored by Thackeray, some rare or copies of editions the Brownings had in their library.

The letters and books below give a glimpse into Thackeray’s work as an editor for Cornhill and his relationship with Frederick Locker-Lampson. Additionally, the ABL has thirty-two Victorian letters in which Frederick Locker-Lampson is a correspondent and twelve books authored by Locker-Lampson, including two, with Locker’s signature, which were in the Brownings’ Library. There are also ten Locker-Lampson letters in the Browning Collection.

Thackeray-Locker-London-Lyrics-1Thackeray-Locker-London-Lyrics-2Frederick Locker-Lampson. London Lyrics. New ed., enl. and finally revised. London: Henry S. King & Co, 1876.

Locker quotes Thackeray’s opinion of his poetry in the Notes to the 1904 edition of his poetry collection, London Lyrics.

 …Thackeray believed in me, and used to say, ‘Nevermind, Locker—our verse may be small beer, but at least it’s the right tap.’

  Thackeray-to-Locker-1Thackeray-to-Locker-2Thackeray-to-Locker-3Letter from William Makepeace Thackeray to Frederick Locker. 22  January 1861.

Thackeray regrets that he was not able to be present to support Locker-Lampson on the previous Saturday due to “spasm fits.” The embossed crest of the stationery is for the Garrick Club. The letter may regard Locker-Lampson’s rejection from the Garrick Club.

I hope you bear your of Saturday equanimously. I ought to have been here to prevent it for you were only b—k  b—ll—d [black balled] because there was nobody there to speak for you and there should have been such a friend.


Letter from William Makepeace Thackeray to Frederick Locker. 11 February 1861.

Thackeray asks Locker-Lampson to change the last line of his poem, “My Neighbor’s Rose,” from “And god go with her” to “And joy go with her,” claiming that:

 The name of Allah jars rather in the pleasant little composition, and I never like using it if it can be turned or avoided.

Thackeray-Locker-poem-1Thackeray-Locker-poem-2Letter from William Makepeace Thackeray to Frederick Locker. No date.

This letter contains the first stanza of Locker’s poem, “A Human Skull,” with Thackeray’s correction. The poem was Locker’s first contribution to Cornhill, published December 1860. The letter on the verso reads:

My dear L.

that isn’t a good verse—I have mislaid proof 1. –will you recorrect please—and what do you think of the 4 lines on t’other side.


Beyond the Brownings–W. E. (William Ewart) Gladstone (1809-1898)

NPG D8335; William Ewart Gladstone by William Holl Jr, after a photograph by  John Jabez Edwin Mayall© National Portrait Gallery, London

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

William Ewart Gladstone’s career lasted over sixty years. He served as Prime Minister four separate times, more than any other person; and he also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times. As Britain’s oldest Prime Minister, Gladstone resigned for the final time when he was eighty-four years old.

The Armstrong Browning Library holds seven Gladstone letters and eight of his books, one of which was in the Brownings’ library.

Gladstone-to-Browning-1Gladstone-to-Browning-2Gladstone-to-Browning-3Gladstone-to-Browning-4Letter from William Ewart Gladstone to Robert Browning. 12 August 1872.

Even on this murderous day, having received your letter, I engage to examine again whether we can recognize in a practical shape Mr Horne’s claim as a true one. The names are overwhelming: but of course it must not at once be assumed that they are all equally strong in original knowledge. I trust to your kindly remembering my breakfasts at ten on Tuesdays after Easter holidays.

This letters raises a number of questions. Why was it a murderous day? Does the mourning paper hold a clue? What are Mr. Horne’s claims? Why are the names overwhelming? What is the original knowledge in which they are not all equally strong? Did Browning attend Gladstone’s teas? Who forwarded the letter to Browning in Paris?

Gladstone-Homer-1Gladstone-Homer-2W. E. Gladstone, Homer. London: Macmillan, 1878.

Gladstone and Robert Browning were both consumed with reading and studying Homer’s poetry. This is Browning’s copy of Gladstone’s publication on Homer. Browning’s signature is on the title page.

Beyond the Brownings–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Longfellow-photos-ABL-1webCourtesy of  the Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet and educator, may be best remembered for his poems, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. However, he was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. have been identified as the Fireside Poets. The Fireside Poets wrote poetry that rivaled their English counterparts. Their poetry generally adhered to standard forms, conventional meter, and regular rhymes, making it suitable for memorization and recitation at school and home, particularly around the fireside. The Armstrong Browning Library has five letters and over ninety books by Longfellow. Several of the books are rare editions.

Longfellow-to-Unknown-1Longfellow-to-Unknown-2Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to [Unknown].8 March 1875.

In this letter to an unknown correspondent, Longfellow mentions his source for “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”

Longfellow,-Wayside-Inn-1Longfellow,-Wayside-Inn-2Longfellow,-Wayside-Inn-3Longfellow,-Wayside-Inn-4Longfellow,-Wayside-Inn-5Longfellow,-Wayside-Inn-6Longfellow,-Wayside-Inn-7Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Tales of a Wayside Inn. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1863.

First published in the January 1861 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, “Paul Revere’s Ride” was later reprinted in this volume.

Paul-Revere's-Ride-3Longfellow,-Wayside-Inn-1Paul-Revere's-Ride-2Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” The Atlantic Monthly,  January 1861.

“Paul Revere’s Ride” was first published in this journal.

Longfellow,-Poetical-Works-1Longfellow,-Poetical-Works-2Longfellow,-Poetical-Works-3Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. The Poetical Works of Henry W. Longfellow. Complete edition. London: Knight and Son, Clerkenwell Close, 1854.

This volume was part of the Brownings’ library and bears the inscription, “Frederic Browning/with Sarah’s love/October 31st 1854.”

Longfellow,-Divine-Comedy-1Longfellow,-Divine-Comedy-2Longfellow,-Divine-Comedy-3Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

This is a first edition of this important translation. Longfellow was the first American to translate Dante’s Divine Comedy. He spent several years working on the translation and continued to revise the translation even after its publication. To help him in perfecting the translation and editing the proofs, Longfellow invited friends to meet with him weekly beginning in 1864. The “Dante Club” continued to meet until the translation was published in 1867.

Displayed with: Rossetti,-Shadow-of-Dante-1Longfellow,-Divine-Comedy-2Rossetti,-Shadow-of-Dante-3Rossetti,-Dante2Maria Francesca Rossetti. A Shadow of Dante, Being an Essay Towards Studying Himself, His World and His Pilgrimage. London, Oxford, and Cambridge: Rivingtons, 1871.

The Rossetti’s older sister used the translation of her brother, William Michael, for quotations from the Inferno and Longfellow’s translation for quotations from Purgatorio and Paradiso.

The Armstrong Browning Library also holds this lovely photograph of Longfellow’s three youngest children: Alice, Allegra, and Edith.

Longfellow's-children-ABL-1Longfellow's-children-ABL-2This photograph was taken shortly before 1861 when their mother, Frances, was killed, her dress having caught fire in an accident. Longfellow was injured in the fire trying to save her. His facial scars led him to grow his characteristic beard. He was also emotionally scarred from the accident, mourning for her the last twenty-one years of his life. He wrote these lines eighteen years after the accident.

Such is the cross I wear upon my breast

     These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes

     And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Cross of Snow,” 1879.

Beyond the Brownings–Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Ralph Waldo Emerson ABLCourtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the middle of the nineteenth century. He is most known for his essays on Nature and Self-Reliance. Emerson was also a mentor and friend of fellow Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau.

 The Armstrong Browning Library owns three letters written by Emerson. Ninety Emerson books, some rare editions or editions inscribed by Emerson himself, also belong to the library’s holdings. Emerson’s Poems (1884), owned by Robert Browning, is part of the Browning Collection at the ABL. The volume belonged to Robert Browning and contains his signature on the second fly-leaf.


Ralph Waldo Emerson. Poems. New and rev. ed. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co, 1884.

Emerson-to-Quincy-1webEmerson-to-Quincy-2Emerson-to-Quincy-3Letter from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Edmund Quincy, Esq. 2 December [1864].

Emerson invites Edmund Quincy, a famous abolitionist, and his friends Mr. and Mrs. Langel to visit.

We will give you a little dinner at 1,’oc & show you meadows & ponds.

 Emerson's-EssayswebRalph Waldo Emerson. Essays. Boston: James Munroe and Company, 1841.

This volume is inscribed by Emerson, “Lucy C. Brown, with the grateful regards of R.W.E. 1848.”

Emerson's-Harvard-Address Ralph Waldo Emerson. An Address Delivered Before the Senior Class in Divinity College, Cambridge, Sunday Evening, 15 July, 1838. Boston: James Munroe and Company, 1838.

Emerson’s address outraged the Protestant community by discounting the miracles of the Bible and questioning the deity of Christ. He was not invited to speak at Harvard for thirty years. This volume bears the inscription on the cover: “/with the affectionate regards of/R.W.E.” Dewey was an American Unitarian minister.

Beyond the Brownings–William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

William Cullen Bryant ABL 2

Courtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

William Cullen Bryant, who was an American poet, journalist, and editor of the New York Evening Post, is best known for his poems “Thanatopsis” and “To a Waterfowl.”

Although he is mentioned in several of the Brownings’ letters, we have no record that he was a correspondent of the Brownings. The Brownings entertained Bryant at Casa Guidi in June 1858 and Bryant stayed in a hotel next door to the Brownings on a trip to Paris in July 1858.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns one letter from Bryant to Fanny Kemble and an autograph note in the Whittier Autograph Album. The ABL collection includes ten books, one of which, The Complete Poetical Works of William Cullen Bryant (1854), is a copy of the book that was given to Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Anna Ticknor.

Bryant,-Complete-Poetical-Works-1William Cullen Bryant. The Complete Poetical Works of William Cullen Bryant. London: Knight and Son, 1854.

Anna Ticknor was an American author and educator who founded the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, which was the first correspondence school in the United States.


RB-to-Perkins-3In a letter from July of 1858, Browning thanks his friend, Charles Perkins, art critic, author, organizer of cultural activities, for the music they enjoyed in Florence. He also describes their trip by boat from Florence to France.

… the ship was overcrowded from Leghorn to Genoa and my wife passed the night on the bare deck and a shawl or two rather than try the stifling berths below—thence to Marseilles  was a rougher business—but we rested a night got to Lyons next evening, Dijon the following midday and Paris on Tuesday night.

 He continues the letter, noting that in Paris William Cullen Bryant is his next door neighbor.

Mr Bryant happens to lodge in the Hôtel next door—which is pleasant to know–

RB-to-Perkins-4composite Browning also discusses future plans which include a proposed trip to Egypt, which never occurred.

… we shall certainly set our faces Southward in less than three months, and, I suppose, find you at Florence,—at least provisionally. For us, if we don’t go to Egypt, we shall winter at Rome—or so we say at present.

RB-to-Perkins-5Letter from Robert Browning to Charles Perkins.
11 July 1858.


Letter from William Cullen Bryant to Miss Fanny Kemble [Mrs. Pierce Mease Butler]. 28 February 1857.

Bryant makes arrangements for Miss Kemble to give her readings in New York in April. He looks forward to her coming, commenting that

 …there have been few entertainments of the kind this winter—none certainly that could take off its edge.

Beyond the Brownings–John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

John Henry Newman ABL 2Courtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

John Henry Newman was an important figure in the religious history of nineteenth-century England, providing early leadership for the Oxford movement, a group of Anglicans seeking to return the Church of England to beliefs and forms of worship based on the Church Fathers and to restore ritual expression. Later, Newman converted to Catholicism and in 1879 became Cardinal. He is perhaps best known for authoring many of the Tracts for the Times (1833-41), his Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865-66), a Grammar of Ascent (1870), and his lectures, “On the Idea of a University” (1852 and 1858). Newman also wrote “Lead, Kindly Light (1833),” the hymn sung at the funeral of Dr. A. J. Armstrong, founder of the Armstrong Browning Library.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns thirty-five letters written by John-Henry Newman, most of them addressed to either William George Ward, Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, Catholic theologian and philosopher or his son, Wilfrid Philip Ward, who wrote Newman’s biography in 1912.

Letter-to-Wilfrid-Ward-1webLetter-to-Wilfrid-Ward-2webLetter-to-Wilfrid-Ward-3webLetter from John Henry Newman to Wilfred Ward.

21 June 1886.

This letter was written the year before Newman died. He gives a favorable critique of Wilfrid Ward’s  book, William George Ward and the Oxford Movement (1889).

 Your book is a capital one, very able, and very kind to me personally.

Newman regrets that he is too old to attempt to write the return letter himself. A secretary has transcribed the letter, but Newman signed with a very unsteady hand.

November-15,-1872-1webNovember-15,-1872-2webNovember-15,-1872-3webLetter from [John Henry Newman] to [Unknown].

15 November 1872.

Newman conveys in this memorandum that he doesn’t wish to have a biography of his life written and suggests instead that a compilation of letters and papers would “supersede the necessity of a formal Life.”

 I don’t wish my life written—because there is so little to say. This is the case with most lives—and in consequence the writers are forced to pad—and then readers are both disappointed at the meagerness of the composition, and angry with the padding. Moreover, in the Apologia I have virtually written my life up to 1845—and there is little or nothing to say since.

Newman's-biography-1webNewman's-biography-2webNewman's-biography-3web Ward, Wilfred Philip. The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman Based on His Private Journals and Correspondence. London: Longmans, Green, and Co, 1912.

Wilfrid Ward did collect the private journals and correspondence of Newman into two volumes, published twenty-two years after Newman’s death.

Apologia-Pro-Sua-Vita-1webApologia-Pro-Sua-Vita-2webJohn Henry Newman. Apologia Pro Vita Sua: Being a Reply to a Pamphlet Entitled “What, Then, Does Dr. Newman Mean?” London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1864.

This volume was all the record of his life that was needed, according to Newman’s unsigned letter of 15 November 1872.

Armstrong’s Stars: William Butler Yeats

“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 Baylor graduate (BA ’14) and Sigma Tau Delta member Rebecca Hans.   

Yeats Photo in Lariat

Photograph of William Butler Yeats appearing in the April 8, 1920, issue of The Lariat (The Texas Collection)

On April 16, 1920, at five o’clock in the evening, poet William Butler Yeats shared about his life and influences and read his work in front of a packed house of Baylor students, faculty, and community. The evening, part of the university’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, had been eagerly anticipated in four Baylor Lariat articles articulating not only W.B. Yeats’s notability and talent, but also the hard work of Dr. A.J. Armstrong for orchestrating the visit. The Lariat especially emphasized the singularity of the event, urging students not to miss the unique opportunity.

The first news regarding the event was an April 1st issue of the Baylor Lariat. The piece announced W.B. Yeats’s lecture and described him as a poet “considered by all competent critics the foremost English man of letters now living.” The lecture would be titled “Friends in my Youth” and was already expected to be “a great day in Baylor history” (“William Butler Yeats” 7).

These early Lariat articles advertising Yeats’s appearance are particularly interesting from a modern perspective. In 1920, Yeats had not yet achieved the irrefutable eminence associated with his name today but was instead described as a brilliant poet on the rise. Many of the great works for which Yeats is known today had yet to be written; even “The Second Coming,” one of his most famous works, may have been unknown to the Waco audiences. Regardless, the literary community thought highly of Yeats. He was so respected even in 1920 that the Lariat accurately prophesied that his “name and work will take place in the front rank of the poetry that passes from this generation to posterity” (“W.B Yeats Secured for Friday, 16th” 1).

When the official invitation appeared advertising the “First Big Guns of Baylor Diamond Jubilee,” Former President William Howard Taft and the poet William Butler Yeats both shared the advertisement. Although President Taft’s portion was presented in a grander style, Yeats’s portion was given equal importance. The invitation emphasized Yeats’s appearance as an important event for anyone interested in “world affairs,” not just a night out for poetry enthusiasts. These instructions were heeded, and long before Yeats took the stage, a varied collection of people paid fifty cents to fill Carroll Chapel to capacity (“William Butler Yeats Delivers Fine Lecture” 1; “Yeats Friday, 5 O’Clock” 2).

Yeats Invitation

Announcement of appearances by William Butler Yeats and William Howard Taft (The Texas Collection)

The poet laureate of Texas, Judd Mortimer Lewis, also came to Waco specifically for the event, and introduced W.B. Yeats to the crowd himself. Yeats began the lecture, “Friends in my Youth,” with details of his childhood, specifically the influence of his father, an artist. The larger part of the talk, however, focused on his mentors and other literary men who had profoundly influenced his growth as a man and poet. Of these influences Yeats mentioned Arthur Symons, Francis Thompson, and William Ernest Henly, and read examples of their work aloud to the Waco audience. To the delight of the crowd, Yeats read aloud from his own work for the concluding half hour, “a treat to lovers of poetry” (“William Butler Yeats Delivers Fine Lecture” 1).

Although the bulk of Lariat coverage focused on Yeats himself, the writers did credit Dr. Armstrong’s work bringing influential speakers to the campus: “The policy of Dr. Armstrong in bringing men to Baylor is to get men who have a world-wide reputation” (“W.B Yeats Secured for Friday, 16th” 1). In a letter to the University President, Samuel Palmer Brooks, Dr. Armstrong reflected on the events of the previous year and described in further detail what the Lariat titled “his policy”:

My primary purpose is not to make money but to give the students an opportunity to come in contact with world forces and world geniuses. I believe it is one thing they will remember longer than anything else connected with their school days. I consider these attractions all of the highest type and I think my English Department is gaining launch for itself abroad.

Today, Baylor University features visits from world-renowned thinkers, writers, and speakers who also share their work and experiences with the university and community. The English Department especially has preserved Dr. A.J. Armstrong’s tradition through events such as the Beall Poetry Festival, an annual event bringing internationally acclaimed poets to Waco. Many modern students can speak with a similar satisfaction as those of 1920, although many may wish they had been present to witness “the biggest literary man that has yet spoken in Carroll Chapel,” as William Butler Yeats shared his story and his art (“W.B Yeats Secured for Friday, 16th” 1).

Works Cited

Armstrong, A.J. to Samuel Palmer Brooks, 4 April 1921, Andrew Joseph Armstrong Papers, Accession #0449, Box 1, Folder 1, Texas Collection, Baylor University.  MS.

First Big Guns of Baylor Diamond Jubilee, Invitation. The Texas Collection, Baylor University Libraries, Waco. Print.

“W.B Yeats Secured for Friday, 16th.” The Lariat 8 Apr. 1920: 1. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.

“William Butler Yeats.” The Lariat 1 Apr. 1920: 7. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.

“William Butler Yeats Delivers Fine Lecture.” The Lariat 22 Apr. 1920: 1. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.

“Yeats Friday, 5 O’Clock.” The Lariat 15 Apr. 1920: 2. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.



Beyond the Brownings–Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

Carlyle ABL-1Courtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Thomas Carlyle, a nineteenth-century Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher, is perhaps most well-known for Sartor Resartus (1836), an essay on social philosophy; The French Revolution (3 volumes, 1837); and History of Frederick the Great (6 volumes, 1858-65). Carlyle was a correspondent of the Brownings.

In November 2009 the Armstrong Browning Library purchased a collection of nearly 400 volumes by and about Carlyle. The collection comes from the personal library of Professor Rodger L. Tarr, an eminent Carlyle scholar who is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Illinois State University. Paired with ABL’s existing Carlyle holdings of approximately 140 titles, the total Collection provides for scholars a vast resource for the study of Carlyle. Two of the books belonged to Robert Browning. The library owns seventeen letters written by Carlyle and over 100 letters written to Carlyle. The ABL’s holdings also include one of Carlyle’s manuscripts.

Chinese-Carlyle-1webChinese-Carlyle-2webThomas Carlyle. Ying Xiong He Ying Xiong Chong Bai: Ka Lai Mi Jiang Yan Ji [On Heroes, Hero-Worship, & the Heroic in History: Six Lectures ; Reported, with Emendations and Additions]. Di 1 ban. Shang hai: San lian shu dian shang hai fen dian, 1988. Print. Shi Jie Xian Zhe Ming Zhu Xuan Yi.

In addition to the English collection of nineteenth century books, periodicals, manuscripts, letters, and modern critical works pertaining to the nineteenth century, the Armstrong Browning Library has a small foreign languages collection, which includes nineteenth century items and modern criticism in Chinese, French, German, and Persian.

Sartor-Resartus-title-webThomas Carlyle. Sartor Resartus: In Three Books. 2d ed. Boston : Philadelphia : Pittsburgh: James Munroe and Company ; James Kay, Jun. & Brother ; John I. Kay & Co., 1837.

This volume is Robert Browning’s own copy of Sartor Resartus, given to him by Harriet Martineau.

Sartor-Resartus-inscription-webThe volume contains marginalia, some of which can be ascribed to Robert Browning.

Sartor-Resartus-marginalia-greek-webSartor-Resartus-marginalia-2-2webParticularly interesting is the note responding to this passage:

So true is it, what I then said, that the fraction of life can be increased in value, not so much by increasing your numerator, as by lessening your denominator.

Sartor-Resartus2webThe marginalia reads:

3/9 – 3/6

December-16,-1857-1webDecember-16,-1857-2webLetter from Thomas Carlyle to [Unknown].16 December 1857.

Carlyle sends a sharp critique to an unknown correspondent.

It is unluckily not in my power to be of the best service to you. I would much advise that you altogether quitted “literature”, and sought out for yourself some more solid and rational employment for your talents than that can ever prove to be. I send you a small Post-office order; and many sincere wishes for a better career.


Simon-Brodie's-CowwebThomas Carlyle. “Simon Brodie’s Cow.” 12 December 1847.

This is a manuscript of a Scottish nursery rhyme Carlyle often quoted when giving autographs:

Simon Brodie had a cow;

He lost his cow, and he could na find her:

When he had done what man could do,

The cow cam hame and her tail behind her.

Beyond the Brownings–Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

Victor Hugo ABLCourtesy of the Armstrong Browning Library

By Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Victor Hugo, a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement, is considered one of the greatest and most recognized French writers. His best-known works are the acclaimed novels Les Misérables (1862) and Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

Hugo’s works at the Armstrong Browning Library include one letter and seven books, one of them rare.

Victor-Hugo-book-1Victor-Hugo-book-2Victor Hugo. Thèatre De Victor Hugo. Paris: Charpentier, Libraire-Editeur, 1844.

This volume is a first edition.

Victor-Hugo-letter-1Victor-Hugo-letter-2Letter from Victor Hugo to Monsieur de Fiennes. No date.

Monsieur de Fiennes may have been an advocate at Bruxelles and later appointed Minister of Finances of France in 1840.


Frederick-Tennyson-to-EBB-xxFrederick-Tennyson-to-EBB-13Letter from Frederick Tennyson to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 29 September 1860.

The brother of Alfred Lord Tennyson spent most of his life in Italy and Jersey, a small island off the coast of Normandy. But, for twenty years he lived in Florence, where he was a friend of Robert and Elizabeth Browning. In this letter, written while in Jersey to Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Siena, Italy, Frederick Tennyson, mentions that:

 We have had Victor Hugo here this summer he came to attend a Garibaldi meeting and made a grand oration. He seems still to be in great vigour & though I could see his face but imperfectly from the opposite side of the room his voice is clear & lion-like–