“Not Death But Love”: A Poetry Video Homage to Elizabeth Barrett Browning

By Gerard Wozek

In anticipation of the Armstrong Browning Library & Museum’s Browning Day Celebration on April 16, we are excited to present a recently completed video poem titled, “Not Death But Love,” produced by myself, Gerard Wozek as writer, and directed by artist Mary Russell in collaboration with Rob Kurland. In this brief film collage, it is our intention to honor the buried personal history of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. By reimagining her meditative garden strolls, our poetry video seeks to reveal her abiding love with her husband Robert Browning, her deep affinity for nature, her later experiments with the occult, and her ability to transcend the boundaries of time.

My creative partner Mary Russell and I have had the idea for years to develop a tribute video that honors Elizabeth Barrett Browning, her life as a writer and what informed her creative process.  Our keen interest in the life of the poet really hit a peak when we were teaching in a study abroad program offered through our university that took us to Florence, Italy. There we discovered Barrett Browning’s attraction for long strolls in the Florentine Boboli Gardens and her life at Casa Guidi. We were so enchanted with what we discovered about the life of the poet in Italy, that we at once began to put together the idea of “restaging” and reimagining her walks alongside a narrative that would serve as an homage to the poet’s craft and genius.

Still frame from “Not Death But Love”

I developed a tribute poem that would take the reader and listener on a journey through various elements and time periods inhabited by Barrett Browning. I wanted the viewer to feel as though they were walking alongside the poet, in order to not only see what she might be encountering in the Boboli Gardens of Florence, but also to feel and connect with her internal creative vision:

We listen for Pan’s pipes. A leopard’s growl as it grazes the bark of an overgrown cypress. Your hushed voice moving through the lines of a sonnet.

Elizabeth! Your handwriting is the black-ink edge of a storm cloud curling into infinity.

Puffs of red dust that once clung to your petticoat, now stain our sandal straps as we make our way to the Egyptian obelisk.

Poetry video is a unique way of expressing this particular kind of tribute to a poet. Also known as videopoems, cine-poetry, or poetry films, poetry video unites spoken text (or sometimes text that is written on the screen or text that is simply interpreted by the visual artist) with imagery and music. Situated somewhere between installation art and music video, poetry video is an evolving genre. When a resonant image couples with the poet’s text, alchemy can occur between the two disciplines of poetry and film. The visual images often deepen the author’s meaning, provide startling contrast, or locate new alliances within the inherent metaphors of the poet’s text. Stills, animation, computer graphics, and filmed imagery, complimented often by a soundtrack and/or the poet’s voice, can broaden and enhance the experience of the listener/viewer.

Jamie Stoik as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in “Not Death But Love”

“Not Death But Love,” which was completed earlier last year, will screen this summer at the 2021 International Poetry Video Festival in Athens, Greece. We were so thrilled that Jennifer Borderud, Director of the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University, offered us an opportunity to share our newly completed work with the community at Baylor, and most especially with those individuals who will celebrate the University’s annual Browning Day held virtually on April 16, 2021.

The video is available below. You can also contact me at Gerard.Wozek@gmail.com for more information about the video.

The Armstrong Browning Library & Museum’s annual Browning Day Celebration will be held virtually this year on April 16. For more information, visit baylor.edu/library/browningday.

White Star Lines–Titanic Connections at the ABL–Rose Kingsley and the S S Shannon

By Melinda Creech
Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company.  Founded in 1845, The White Star Line, operated a fleet of clipper ships that sailed between Britain, Australia, and America. The ill-fated Titanic was perhaps their most famous ship. The Armstrong Browning Library has a few connections to the Titanic. One connection relates to a set of postcards that disappeared with the Titanic and another relates to the author of the hymn, “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” the song that was purportedly playing as the Titanic sank. The Armstrong Browning Library’s collection includes a letter with the White Star logo in its heading and several letters written on board ships or while individuals were preparing to board ships. The letters, written between 1841 and 1912, are lines from people who were passengers on SS (Steamer Ships), RMS (Royal Mail Steamers), or HMS (Her Majesty’s Ship). It is interesting to note that one of the first purposes of steamers crossing the Atlantic was to deliver the mail. These lines, written from steamer ships, may shed some light on the adventure and danger presented by steamer travel in the late nineteenth century.

Rose Kingsley. Courtesy of The Kingsley School. This girls’ school, still in operation today, was begun by Rose Kingsley in 1884 as the Lemington High School for Girls.

Rose Georgina Kingsley (1845-1925) was the oldest daughter of Charles Kingsley, nineteenth-century clergyman and novelist. In 1869 she joined her father on a trip to Trinidad. The Kingsley’s trip is recorded in At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies. Harper & Bros, 1871. They spent seven weeks exploring the island of Trinidad before their return to England.

SS Shannon

Their trip began on the SS Shannon. The SS Shannon was built in 1854 as a paddle-wheel steamer by Napier and Sons of Glasgow. The first paddle-wheel steamers had begun crossing the Atlantic in 1838. The Cunard Line (the company that later built the Titanic) began their first regular steamer service with the RMS Britannia in 1840, sailing from Liverpool to Boston. The SS Shannon was a successful mail steamer for the West India Line until she was withdrawn and refurbished some time around 1875. She was converted to a screw steamer and lengthened. Her maiden voyage as a refurbished ship broke all records of speed and she only consumed 635 tons of coal. However on her second trip the SS Shannon went aground on the Pedro Bank, southwest of Jamaica and was lost. Passengers, crew, and mail were all saved. (The Shipwrecked Mariner. Vol. 23, 1876, 45)

The Armstrong Browning Library has three letters from Rose to mother, brother, and sister, written during her trip to Trinidad.

The first letter was written on board the SS Shannon.

Writing Room on board the SS Shannon

Rose Georgina Kingsley to Fanny Kingsley. 12 December [1869].

In this letter Rose describes the “fairest ever” voyage, gives accounts of her seasickness, and tells of her father’s Sunday sermon in the Saloon. The family was always very interested in natural history, and the other letters, written after they arrived in Trinidad, are filled with Rose’s descriptions and illustrations of frangipani, bougainvillea, shells, coral, poison trees, monkeys, toucans, parrots, kinkajous, ocelots, mosquitos, and giant spiders.

Rose Kingsley to Grenville Kingsley, 24 December [1869].

In this letter Rose draws a picture of a spider, life-size. She writes: “I found […] spider in my room as big as this but that is considered quite tiny here!!”

In the final letter Rose wrote from Trinidad she says, “we are coming in the Neva & that I hear she is most comfortable & the fastest ship in the Service.” In fact, the RMS Neva was a new ship, built in 1868 by the Caird and Company shipyard, accommodated 272 first class passengers, and boasted an oak and gilded saloon, furnished in walnut. The RMS Neva replaced the RMS Rhone, which was wrecked in a hurricane in October 1867 (Jampoler, Andrew. Black Rock and Blue Water: The Wreck of the Royal Mail Ship Rhone in St. Narciso’s Hurricane of October 1867. Naval Institute Press, 2013).

Rose was quite a pioneer. She traveled across the Atlantic the next year and joined her brother, Maurice, as a new member of the Colorado Springs community in Colorado. In 1872 she travelled with General William Jackson Palmer exploring the possible route of a railway from Texas to Mexico City. Her adventures are recorded in her writings, which include South by west: or, Winter in the Rocky Mountains and Spring in Mexico, Rides and Drives in the Far West, and Ulay, the Chief of the Utes.

 I could not find a biography of this rather amazing woman. Perhaps this is a project that needs to be undertaken.

Reflections from a Summer Intern – Stories from Victorian Letters: Drawings in Victorian Letters

By Katie Mackenzie, Museum Studies Summer Intern

During my internship, I have discovered that some of my most favorite things to find in Victorian letters are little drawings or sketches. It is especially fun when they relate to and help illustrate the story that the letter is telling. I am so excited to be able to share some of these drawings with you through the blog!

The first drawing that I will share with you comes from a letter written on December 24, 1869 by an Englishwoman named Rose Georgina Kingsley. She writes her letter to her little brother Grenville Kingsley. Rose was living in Trinidad and most of her letter consists of her excitedly describing the fantastic plants and animals that she has seen there. Rose included a drawing in her letter of one of the animals she had found in her room – a spider, drawn life size to the one she saw. On the letter it is almost 4 inches across. Rose comments that, for Trinidad, this giant spider is actually small! Below is an excerpt from the letter on the spider,

I found [letter torn] spider in my room as big as this. But that is considered quite tiny here!!

Letter from Rose Georgina Kingsley to Grenville Kingsley. 24 December 1869. Drawing of a spider.

You will notice that Rose’s drawing does not depict the correct number of legs for a spider, but I still wonder if the spider could be identified. Do you recognize this spider?

The next letter that I will share with you may be especially interesting to those who love music. This letter was between two musicians, from N. J. Heineken to Miss Hodge. The letter is not dated but believed to have been written in the Victorian era. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any more identifying information about the musicians. Heineken writes Miss Hodge to praise her music as well as to offer her advice. Heineken seems to admire Miss Hodge’s music very much. He writes, “I have been much pleased with your truthful and ingenious song.” When referring to particular parts of Miss Hodge’s song, Heineken draws musical notations. It is amazing to see these musical notations, as it could give us clues as to what Miss Hodge’s song sounded like. An example of Heineken’s drawing can be seen below.

Letter from N.J. Heineken to Miss Hodge. Undated. Musical notations.

The last letter I will share with you contains a sketch by the Scottish artist Sir George Reid. Reid wrote to Mrs. Tom Taylor, nee Laura Wilson Barker, on February 18, 1879. Laura was the wife of the English playwright Tom Taylor. One of his most famous plays is Our American Cousin. In his letter, Sir George Reid, describes to Mrs. Taylor how harsh the winter was in Scotland that year. Reid writes,

We have had a trying and tedious winter here. For weeks the snow lay a foot and a half deep – it vanished at last slowly and led me to think that the winter was over. Yesterday and today it is back to the old story – snow has fallen steadily since morning and now lies 6 or 8 inches deep –

Along with his description of the winter weather, Reid adds a sketch of a man he names as Macdonald, whom Reid is painting a portrait of. Reid could have possibly been referring to the Scottish author, George Macdonald, whom Reid is known to have created portraits of. Macdonald is depicted outside sitting in his carriage, bundled up to protect himself from the cold. His face is barely visible peeking out underneath his hat.

Letter from G.W. Reid to Mrs. Tom Taylor. 18 February 1879. Sketch of Macdonald.

These three drawings provide amazing illustrations of the stories the letters tell. They all help to bring to the past to life. Rose’s letter helps us to see what she saw, by depicting a life sized spider; Heineken’s musical notations give us clues to Miss Hodge’s song; Reid’s sketch helps us imagine the bitterly cold Scottish winter in 1879.

This will be my last blog for my internship at the Armstrong Browning Library. I had so much fun discovering all the amazing stories to be found in the Armstrong Browning Library’s Victorian letters this summer. Thank you for letting me share these stories with you!

Reflections from a Summer Intern – Stories from Victorian Letters: The Whittier-Family Autograph Album

By Katie Mackenzie, Museum Studies Summer Intern

In the past few days of my internship I have been able to work on transcriptions for an extraordinary album.

The first thing that stood out to me was the album’s beautiful deep red cover. The gold lettering of the word “Autograph” and the picture of a book and quill that announce the album’s purpose is beautiful.

Front cover of Whittier Family Autograph Album.

Back cover of Whittier Family Autograph Album.

This Victorian era autograph album contains the signatures of many famous people of the day. Most of the dated signatures are from around the time of the American Civil War. It belonged to Elizabeth Whittier Pickard (1846-1902), who was the niece of the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). The album was given to Elizabeth by her brother, Charles Whittier (1843-1909).

Lizzie H. Whittier
From her brother
Char.

Autograph. Charles Whittier to Elizabeth Whittier Pickard.

Her uncle, John Greenleaf Whittier, as a famous poet, may have helped to fill the album with the autographs of his famous friends and correspondents. There are a few letters that are written to John Greenleaf Whittier included in the album.

There are several types of autographs found in the book. Some of the autographs simply include the person’s name. Some of the autographs are attached to a letter, or cut out of one. But what I found most interesting were the names that came with a quote. When a signer added a quote it was sometimes from their own work.

The autograph from Nora Perry, an American writer, came with a quote from her own poem. The excerpt of her poem “The Love-Knot” reads,

Tying her bonnet under her chin
She tied a young man’s heart within
Nora Perry

Autograph. Nora Perry to Elizabeth Whittier Pickard.

But most often a famous quote came from another source, such as the Bible, and usually contained a moral message.

Very rarely, the quote comes in the form of a unique poem. One of my favorite quotes in the album was a unique poem written just for Elizabeth. This poem was written by the American author and poet Lucy Larcom (1824-1893). The poem reads,

For the name thou bearest
Tender love thou sharest.
Hold it sacred unto death
The dear name – Elizabeth.

Autograph. Lucy Larcom to Elizabeth Whittier Pickard.

Elizabeth probably did hold her name as something very sacred to her, as she was named after a beloved and much admired aunt. This admiration can be seen in a letter that her father, M. F. Whittier, who was the younger brother of John Greenleaf Whittier, wrote to her on December 4, 1864. The letter reads,

As far as your nature will allow imitate the beautiful life of the dear Aunt whose name you bear. Strive to love all God’s creatures as she did. Like her be charitable towards the erring – – remembering that “to err is human – to forgive is Divine.”

                                                                   M.F. Whittier

Letter from M. F. Whittier to Elizabeth Whittier Pickard. 4 December 1864.

Some of the most famous autographs in the album are the type that are simply signatures. Examples include Ulysses S. Grant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Autograph. Ulysses S. Grant. 21 May 1872.

Autograph. Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Autograph. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 20 February 1874.

I was excited to find Robert Browning’s autograph in a letter he wrote to John Greenleaf Whittier in 1856. Elizabeth Browning must have been nearby as her husband wrote the letter, as Robert Browning writes to Whittier that, “I speak for my wife.” The letter is a thank you note to John Greenleaf Whittier for the kind words he wrote of them in a book. The letter reads,

My dear sir,

On returning to England this summer we found a book of manly and beautiful verse, and our names (I speak for my wife in this letter) written, with a kind and gratifying word of sympathy from yourself, in the first page. We are just leaving England again, but you must take our hasty thanks as if they had been more worthily expressed: they are hearty and sincere, at all events – – since acknowledging that you have thus numbered with your friends

                         Two, proud to be so numbered,

                                 Elizabeth Barrett & Robert Browning

Letter to John Greenleaf Whittier from Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 20 October 1856.

The autograph letters are some of my favorite because, as well as the autograph, they also included snippets of the everyday life of the person. For example, one of the letters is from John Greenleaf Whittier to Greenleaf Whittier Pickard, who was Elizabeth Whittier Pickard’s son. John writes to his great nephew, telling him that he will collect stamps so that Greenleaf can put them in his stamp album. He also reminds Greenleaf to do well in school. I love letters like this that seem so familiar even to modern eyes. The letter reads,

Dear Greenleaf,

I send a few stamps for thy album, and will try to save more for thee, I hope thee go to school and learn well.

                                                 Thy Uncle,

                                                      John G Whittier

Letter to Greenleaf Whittier Pickard from John Greenleaf Whittier.

This autograph album allowed me to learn about many Victorian people who I hadn’t known before. It was so fun to be able to research all the people inside of the book and to learn their stories.

Reflections from a Summer Intern–Stories from Victorian Letters: John Forster and Percy Fitzgerald

By Katie Mackenzie, Museum Studies Summer Intern

Hello! My name is Katie Mackenzie and I am an intern at the Armstrong Browning Library this summer. One of the projects that I am working on is transcribing and preparing Victorian letters to be digitized. Digitizing these Victorian letters will help them to be more accessible to the world as they will be able to be viewed online.

The first Victorian letter collection that I worked on consisted of nine letters. These letters had been tipped into a green “scrapbook” album, with the handwritten title “Letters of John Forster to Percy Fitzgerald” on its cover.

Cover of John Forster to Percy Fitzgerald Album. 1857-1873.

The book looks to have been recycled from its original purpose as the spine of the book has the title, “Letters of Charles Dickens to Percy Fitzgerald.”

Spine of John Forster to Percy Fitzgerald Album. 1857-1873.

When you examine the album you can see that many of its pages have been cut out. Is it possible that the album once contained letters from Charles Dickens to Percy Fitzgerald?

The letters inside the album are written from John Forster to Percy Fitzgerald and date from 1857-1873. One of the first questions I wanted to know when I looked through this album, of course, was: “Who were John Forster and Percy Fitzgerald?” John Forster (1812-1876) and Percy Fitzgerald (1834-1925) were both writers and biographers of Charles Dickens. Forster’s biography, The Life of Charles Dickens, was published in 1876. Fitzgerald contributed to the magazine Household Words, which was owned by Charles Dickens. He also wrote two biographies of Dickens, Life of Charles Dickens (1905) and Memories of Charles Dickens (1913).  The two Charles Dickens biographers, Forster and Fitzgerald, were also, as we see from the album, very good friends.

When you open the album, the first page has a handwritten title reading “John Forster’s Biographer of Dickens Letters to Percy Fitzgerald.” Lower on the page Fitzgerald writes that Forster was, “The Best friend I ever had and did most for me getting almost a small fortune in my way.”

Title page of John Forster to Percy Fitzgerald album. 1857-1873.

I wonder what the story of the small fortune is. Did it have anything to do with their careers in writing? This is still a mystery.

Transcribing these letters was a challenge, as John Forster’s handwriting is very difficult to read.

Excerpt from letter from John Forster to Percy Fitzgerald. 17 August 1869.

Forster himself hints at the possibility that he found difficulty in reading his own handwriting at one point in the letters. In a letter dated August 17, 1869, Forster mentions that he wrote a wrong address, making the best guess he could at the time. Later, when he figured out the proper address, he writes to Fitzgerald saying that he had better to go to the post office to retrieve his lost letter.

Letter from John Forster to Percy Fitzgerald. 17 August 1869.

This section of the letter reads,

I wrote to you yesterday – addressing my letter to [“Husband”] street – that being my nearest guess to the name which I have since discovered to be [Harbour] St.  Call at the P. O. for the letter if it should have not been delivered to you.

Because of Forster’s handwriting, some of the words are still uncertain.

From the letters we find historical clues about Victorian food, mourning customs, and museums.

Most of Forster’s letters to Fitzgerald are invitations to dine, and from them we can learn some interesting things about Victorian food. In one letter dated February 14, 1872, Forster asks Fitzgerald over to dinner at around 7 o’clock. Forster is careful to ask about Fitzgerald’s dietary restrictions. To ask if Fitzgerald is pescetarian, Forster writes,

and tell me, in your word of reply, whether you are restricted to creatures caught from the watery world?

What a clever way to ask this question!

One mystery regarding food in the letters comes from translating Forster’s difficult handwriting. On May 27, 1872, Forster is replying to an invitation that Fitzgerald gave for dinner. Forster accepts and requests that they eat

the simplest of dinners, a bit of white fish, and a bit of brown mutton. No soup or [—–]!

The last word is a mystery! Have a look at the image below. Do you have any ideas what the other item that Forster did not want was?

These letters also give a glimpse into Victorian mourning customs. While in mourning, Victorians would often write their letters on stationery that had a black border. These borders can be very thick depending on how close the author was to the deceased. Three of Forster’s letters were like this. One, dated May 10, 1873, is in regard to the death of his friend and famous actor William Charles Macready.

Letter from John Forster to Percy Fitzgerald. 10 May 1873.

The letter reads:

My dear Percy,

In my misery (which [still] [overtakes]) I forgot to send you Mrs. Macready’s address “6 Wellington Square Cheltenham

Alys Yours,

J.F.

Lastly, there is mention in one letter of a trip to a museum. I found this letter so interesting, as a Museum Studies student at Baylor University. In the letter, dated May 27, 1872, Forster asks Fitzgerald to meet him at the “S. K. Museum” to see a pottery collection. S. K. stands for South Kensington Museum, which was the name for the Victoria and Albert Museum at that time. The Museum was given the name South Kensington Museum in 1854, and it was finally changed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899.

There are many more Forster letters in the Armstrong Browning Library’s collection, addressed to several correspondents. I am looking forward to learning more about his story in the future!

Seeing Many Beautiful Things: John Ruskin’s “Old Coachman”

By Melinda Creech
Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

The Armstrong Browning Library has fifteen letters that deal in one way or another with David Fudge, John Ruskin’s coachman for fifty years. The following anecdotes are recorded in The Works of John Ruskin, Volume 35, 717-718.

From “Mr. Ruskin and his old Coachman” Daily Chronicle, January 22, 1900:

‘David’ would daily drive him through the Surrey lanes, then (ten or twelve years ago) untouched by the builder. The sight of a brooklet or of a picturesque bit of road, said Mr. Fudge, would always call for the eager request: ‘Drive through there, David; drive through there!’ The Professor was a great walker, and would often dismount from his brougham and set out across country. ‘Then, I suppose, you would meet your master to take him home after the walk?’ “Yes; before leaving the carriage he would insist on sketching out a plan of the road I was to take to meet him. And more than often I found him waiting for—such was his pace and his knowledge of the foot paths. My master was a very plain liver, and almost a teetotaler. He was very reserved in his way, and kept but little company. But, min you,’ added Mr. Fudge, with emphasis, ‘he was as good a master as it is possible to have. All the old family servants are amply provided for. I have many a time seem my late master heartily shake the hand of a crossing sweeper whom he thought well of. Mr. Fudge proudly brought forth from his breast pocket a number of affectionate letters written to him in later years.

From the Western Morning News, January 22, 1900:

Like all Ruskin’s servants, David Fudge is provided for in his old age, and every month since his retirement, he has received a cheque from Brantwood. The old man keeps all his letters with a jealous affection. In one of them Ruskin says: ‘Dearest David,—I am sorry to hear of your illness, but hope you will be better. I enclose £5, with which you may be enable to buy some comforts.

The Works of John Ruskin, Volume 28, 520, records Ruskin’s comments in Fors Clavigera Vol. VI, paragraph 10: “I have got two Davids, and a Kate, that I wouldn’t change for anybody else’s servants in the world.”

Very little mention is made of a person who for a great part of Ruskin’s life was his daily companion. These letters give a few more glimpses into Daivd Fudge’s life.

nugee-to-ruskin001

Letter from George Nugée to John Ruskin. 24 November 1853. Page 1.

Letter from George Nugée to John Ruskin. 24 November 1853. Page 2.

Letter from George Nugée to John Ruskin. 24 November 1853. Page 2.

In this letter George Nugée, Vicar of Wymering, sends a letter or recommendation to Ruskin regarding David Fudge. Fudge had served the family well at their residence in London, 6. Upper Wimpole Street, but because the Nugées were moving to the country, Wymering Manor, where he served as Vicar, and had no room there for a coachman with a family, he was recommending David Fudge’s service to  John Ruskin.

*****

ruskin-to-fudge-1871001

Fragment of a Letter from John Ruskin to David Fudge. [Ca. 1871].

In this fragment Ruskin assures Fudge of his just treatment by both his cousin, Joan (Agnew Ruskin) Severn, and himself and encourages Fudge to “remonstrate with her” if he thinks she gives him more work than is proper. From this fragment, it seems that Fudge had responsibilities at Denmark Hill in the service of Ruskin’s cousin, Joan Severn while Ruskin was away.

*****

ruskin-to-fudge-18-october-1877

Letter from John Ruskin to David Fudge. 18 October 1877.

Here Ruskin sends  David Fudge his cheque, apologizing for the delay, and instructs him to pay Dawson Herdson, the head gardener at Brantwood, and get a receipt.

*****

ruskin-to-fudge-30-august-1894005

Letter from Joan Severn to David Fudge. 30 August [1895]. Page 1

ruskin-to-fudge-30-august-1894006

Letter from Joan Severn to David Fudge. 30 August [1895]. Page 2

In this letter Joan Severn informs David Fudge that he may get a request from the architect, William Douglas Caröe, to show him the house where J. M. W. Turner had lived, a place that Fudge and Ruskin had visited some thirty years before. Caröe was interested in preserving the place.

caroe-to-fudge-1895001

Letter from W. D. Caröe to David Fudge. 2 September 1895. Page 1.

caroe-to-fudge-1895002

Letter from W. D. Caröe to David Fudge. 2 September 1895. Pages 2 and 3.

In this letter, Caröe asks Fudge to come and see him and help him to find Turner’s house in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.

caroe-to-fudge-1

Letter from W. D. Caröe to David Fudge. 2 September 189[5]. Page 1.

caroe-to-fudge-2001

Letter from W. D. Caröe to David Fudge. 2 September 1895. Page 2.

In this letter, which was probably misdated by Caröe, he regrets he couldn’t make their appointment, commends Fudge for the information he gave Mrs. Caröe about Turner’s House, and thanks him for his assistance.

*****

severn-to-fudge-25-march-1897001

Letter from Joan Severn to David Fudge. 25 March 1897. Page 1.

severn-to-fudge-25-march-1897002

Letter from Joan Severn to David Fudge. 25 March 1897. Page 2.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns nine letters written by Joan Severn, Ruskin’s cousin. In 1871 Joan married Arthur Severn, moved into Herne Hill, and began to take over the administration of the property. They also spent time at Brantwood and eventually moved there in 1887, where she began managing that estate.

This letter indicates that Fudge had sent some photographs to Ruskin.

We all think them excellent—it gave him real pleasure to see your face again—& those sweet little children, of whom you must be very fond—& proud—

severn-to-fudge-1898001

Letter from Joan Severn to David Fudge. [Ca. 1898]. Page 1.

severn-to-fudge-1898002

Letter from Joan Severn to David Fudge. [Ca. 1898]. Page 2.

In this letter Mrs. Severn thanks Fudge for the Christmas card and reports that Ruskin also received his and sends his thanks. She expresses sorrow about the death of the gardener Dawson Herdson.

severn-to-fudge-21-jan-1900001

Letter from Joan Severn to David Fudge. 21 January 1900.

This letter reports on Ruskin’s death.

I know you too will grieve in the terrible sorrow that has come to us by the death of your beloved Master—failure of the heart from influenza after only a day’s illness—no suffering thank God, but just like a peaceful sleep at the end—

severn-to-fudge-20-feb-1902001

Letter from Joan Severn to David Fudge. 20 February 1902.

Joan Severn sends £2 to Fudge and hopes for his recovery.

severn-to-hading001

Letter from Joan Severn to Mrs. Hading. 5 November 1903. Page 1.

severn-to-hading002

Letter from Joan Severn to Mrs. Hading. 5 November 1903. Pages 2 and 3.

severn-to-hading003

Letter from Joan Severn to Mrs. Hading. 5 November 1903. Page 4.

Mrs. Severn sends her condolences to Mrs. Hading, David Fudge’s daughter, and asks that she purchase flowers for his funeral, sending her the bill.

I was much shocked & distressed to get your letter today here, telling of the death of your dear Father whose loss I naturally mourn—& feel in this great sorrow deeply for you all—…your Father’s death removes a land-mark associated with many interesting, & happy associations—

severn-to-emmie001

Letter from Joan Severn to Emmie. 21 December 1903. Page 1.

severn-to-emmie002

Letter from Joan Severn to Emmie. 21 December 1903. Page 2.

This is another letter of sympathy from Joan Severn to Emmie, Fudge’s daughter. She has sent Mrs. Severn a photograph of her Father with her son and also a memorial card.

severn-to-daughter001

Letter from Joan Severn to David’s Daughter. 13 February 1906. Page 1.

severn-to-daughter002

Letter from Joan Severn to David’s Daughter. 13 February 1906. Pages 2 and 3.

Joan Severn replies to Fudge’s daughter’s letter and asks her to visit when she returns to Herne Hill. It is unclear whether Mrs. Hading, Emmie, and David’s Daughter are all the same person. It is known that the Fudges had several children.

*****

anderson-to-hasting001

Letter from Sara Anderson to Mrs. Hasting. 8 November [ny]. Page 1.

anderson-to-hasting002

Letter from Sara Anderson to Mrs. Hasting. 8 November [ny]. Page 2.

Sara Anderson, amanuensis for both Ruskin and Joan Severn, reports that Mrs. Severn has just returned home and asks Mrs. Hasting to send the date of David Fudge’s death and the name and address of the person who is managing his affairs.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Seeing Many Beautiful Things: Ruskin’s Social and Political Letters

By Melinda Creech
Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

In addition to his importance as an art critic, Ruskin was also a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. The Armstrong Browning Library owns several letters from Ruskin to correspondents who shared his social and political concerns.

John Ruskin to Octavia Hill. 4 Oxtover 1888

John Ruskin to Octavia Hill. 22 November 1865.

John Ruskin to Octavia HIll.

John Ruskin to Octavia HIll. 22 November 1865.

In this letter to Octavia Hill, artist and social reformer, Ruskin gives his permission for Hill to “make her offer.” He warns her “not to be rash and to be as sure as good counsel can make you of your game,” advising her that he “had much rather go very slowly, than have failures to your account or to others.”  Based on the date of the letter, Ruskin is probably referring to his lease of three houses of six rooms each in Paradise Place, Marylebone as residences for the poorest of the working class. Ruskin placed these houses under the management of Hill, who had a deep concern for housing for the poor.

*****

John Ruskin to Elizabeth Gaskell.

John Ruskin to Elizabeth Gaskell. [ca. 1865].

This letter from John Ruskin to Elizabeth Gaskell, English novelist and short story writer, is likely a response to Gaskell’s letter of February 1865. In that letter Gaskell asked Ruskin to pull whatever political strings that he could to make sure that her friend, Alfred Waterhouse, architect of the Assize Courts, had his name among those to be considered as architects for the new Law Courts in London, a position to be appointed by William Cowper. The appointment was prolonged and contentious. The judges wanted George Edmund Street to design the exterior, with the interior designed by Charles Barry. A special committee of lawyers favored Alfred Waterhouse’s designs, Elizabeth Gaskell’s choice. The appointment was eventually won by George Edmund Street, who died in 1881 before the project was completed. This letter suggests that Ruskin had contacted William Cowper and was able to assure Gaskell, “you will see by the enclosed the affair is not so petulantly forward yet, then men of course never make any promises—but I have good hope that he means at least as much as he says.”

*****

John Ruskin to John Henry Chamberlain. 6 December 1869.

John Ruskin to John Henry Chamberlain. 6 December 1869.

Ruskin apologizes for not thanking John Henry Chamberlain, architect from Birmingham, for his kind note. Ruskin later chooses Chamberlain to be a trustee of St. George’s Guild. St. George’s Guild is an Educational Trust created by John Ruskin to oppose modern, industrial capitalism and the ugliness, poverty, and pollution it produced. He hoped to establish communities that would oppose profit-driven industry and provide alternatives to mass production.

*****

John Ruskin to John Pakenham Stilwell. 14 February [ny].

John Ruskin to John Pakenham Stilwell. 14 February [ny].

John Ruskin to John Pakenham Stilwell. 14 February [ny].

John Ruskin to John Pakenham Stilwell. 14 February [ny].

The Armstrong Browning Library also owns eight letters of correspondence between Ruskin to John Pakenham Stilwell, British banker, Navy Agent, and Chairman of the Board of Management of the London Homeopathic Hospital. In the letters Ruskin thanks Stilwell for his gifts to St. George’s Guild and apologizes for his mistakes in accounting. In this letter Ruskin laments the plight of the poor:

I am truly helped by your kind letter, and entirely feel with you as to the quantity of good heart left in England. But as far as I have seen in history the innocent suffer with the guilty . . . . And when Revolution comes, as it must, distress will be everywhere.

*****

John Ruskin to William Cowper-Temple.

John Ruskin to William Cowper-Temple. 23 July 1876.

Ruskin had appointed William Cowper-Temple, a British Liberal Party statesman and politician and family friend, as trustee for St. George’s Guild. In this letter he thanks Cowper-Temple for his note and cheque. “Grannie,” referred to in the letter, is Lady Georgiana Cowper-Temple. He variously addressed her as “Phile,” “Isola,” “Mama,” and “Grannie.” In the letter Ruskin tells William to tell Grannie he is working on an edition of Sir Philip Sidney’s psalter, which was published the next year as Rock Honeycomb: Broken Pieces of Sir Philip Sidney’s Psalter. Laid Up in Store for English Homes. Ellis and White, 1877.

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

An Article on the “Two Poets” and the Library & Museum in the Fort Hood Sentinel

We at Armstrong Browning thank Erin Rogers for featuring the Library & Museum in one of her Traveling Soldiers articles! In a recent publication, the ABL&M is called one of the 50 most beautiful university libraries in the world.

Pair of famous poets alive through collection

EMAIL   PRINT   SHAREBy Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
APRIL 11, 2013 | LEISURE
View Larger Image
The English rosewood bracket clock, on display in the library’s Hankamer Treasure Room, was owned by three generations of Brownings – Robert’s grandfather, father and then finally by Robert Browning himself. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
A view of the far wall of the Hankamer Treasure Room shows bookcases full of famous authors, treasures owned by Robert Browning and the library’s famous stained glass. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
This stained-glass window on the main floor has a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning on the top, and a quote from Robert Browning on the bottom. It is part of a series of windows telling the story of their courtship. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
A painting by Egisto Manzuoli, who painted during the time the Brownings wrote, called “Angel of Annunciation” hangs in the Hankamer Treasure Room. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
A view of the Jones Research Hall on the library’s main floor. The windows in this room illustrate 10 of Brownings most famous poems. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
The McLean Foyer of Meditation is at the back of the library’s main floor. This room is often used for concerts, lectures and ceremonies of Baylor’s organizations because of its beauty. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
The alcove at the front of the McLean Foyer features a bronze sculpture of Robert and Elizabeth’s clasped hands. There are poems inscribed on the walls of the alcove by the Brownings written for one another. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
A collection of original work by Robert Browning is on display in the Hankamer Treasure Room. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
A view of the front of the Armstrong Browning Library. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
One of two 19th-century palace jars sits on display in the McLean Foyer of Meditation. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
View Larger Image
The Dotson Wedgewood Collection is on display in the library’s bottom floor, along with the library’s newest stained-glass windows. There are 333 pieces of Wedgewood in the collection. Erin Rogers, Sentinel Leisure Editor
WACO – When I took a trip through Baylor University’s campus this month, I found a lot of places I could absolutely write Traveling Soldier Stories about.Last week’s Traveling Soldier story was about my walk through the Mayborn Museum Complex, but when I left there, I found the Armstrong Browning Library.This “library” has so much more to it than just any old library’s collection of books – the Armstrong Browning Library has the largest collection of Robert Browning’s poetry in the world.

Along with housing and protecting Robert’s famous words, the library also houses and protects the largest poetry collection of Robert’s equally-famous poet wife, Elizabeth Barrett.

I spent a good portion of my time in college studying different kinds of poetry and different poets, and while I might not consider myself a romantic person, I can’t help but smile a goofy, romantic smile while reading poetry from either of these poets (especially their poems to each other).

The Armstrong Browning Library is not only impressive, but the entire building could soften even the most stoic heart with how Barrett and Browning’s poems are on display.

Not to mention, this library houses the largest collection of secular stained glass in the world – 62 stained-glass windows in all. And even the stained glass oozes romantic lines from either the Bible, Browning or Barrett.

With hardly any light inside the museum that isn’t natural, even the ornate architecture is lit up beautifully.

Needless to say, I was walking around with my jaw on the floor in awe of how beautiful this place is.

Even the front doors – each weighing in at one full ton – are embossed with pictures and quotes of the love between a man and a woman, a father and his son, a mother and a daughter, and so on – all kinds of love are portrayed and appreciated at the library.

But Elizabeth and Robert’s love story is the most prominent thing in the library, telling how their romance was initiated after they were already well-published poets.

The Armstrong Browning Library has the original first letter Browning wrote to Barrett that states, “I love your verses with all my heart.”

That one line, written by Browning Jan. 10, 1845, initiated their romance, which resulted in their secret marriage and departure to Italy in 1846.

I was so lost in looking at original sketches and works by Barrett and Browning that it didn’t even occur to me to ask why the name “Armstrong” is part of the library’s name until it was almost time to leave.

Turns out, Dr. A.J. Armstrong, head of Baylor’s English Department from 1912-1952, started the Browning collection at the library from his own personal collection – a collection he had devoted his life to from studying the Victorian poet, Robert Browning.

Armstrong has said he most admired Browning’s “boundless optimism and commitment to spiritual values,” and that admiration for Browning gave Armstrong the vision and energy to obtain the world’s largest Browning collection and, ultimately, the elegant, Victorian-style building on Baylor’s campus where the collection resides.

So for the past 50 years, the collection has continued growing in the library, along with other rare 19th-century research materials and numerous pieces of fine art from all over the world.

Each piece of art has a story that the staff at the library can tell in detail. Everything from Wedgwood to an impressive replica of the original Portland Vase is housed at the library on the bottom floor.

The third floor has the Pen Browning Gallery with four of his paintings
hanging in the stairwell up to the third floor. I found a room at the end of the hall on the third floor dedicated to portraying the Brownings’ lifestyle and personal taste.

There are actual items in the room that belonged to the Brownings, such as a kneeling bench, a writing table where they both wrote poetry, a portrait of their son, Pen, when he was a child, and the stained glass windows in the room
that illustrate Elizabeth’s poetry about she and Robert’s courtship.

Along with the massive art collections and original pieces of poetry from

both Browning and Barrett, the library also hosts weddings and other events in the McLean Foyer of Meditation on the main floor. In the alcove, there is a bronze sculpture of the poets’ clasped hands, with Elizabeth’s famous “Sonnet 43” to Robert written on one side and Robert’s soaring tribute to Elizabeth on the other.

Group tours are given by reservation at the library, but admission is free to daily guests. Hours are 9 a.m.-5p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Research hours are the same, but can only be done by appointment on Saturdays.

Don’t forget to check out their gift gallery for souvenirs and books from the library.

Chronology of Victorian England

Drawn from “Victorian Era” in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia:

Events

1832
Passage of the first Reform Act.[10]

The 1843 launch of theGreat Britain, the revolutionary ship of Isambard Kingdom Brunel

1837
Ascension of Queen Victoria to the throne.[10]
1840
Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield. He had beennaturalised and granted the British style of Royal Highness beforehand. For the next 17 years, he was known as HRH Prince Albert.
1840
Birth of the Queen’s first child The Princess Victoria. Within months she was granted the title Princess Royal.
1840
New Zealand becomes a British colony, through the Treaty of Waitangi.
1841
Birth of the Queen’s heir-apparent The Prince Albert Edward, Duke of Cornwall (Duke of Rothesay). He was swiftly made Prince of Wales. Sir James Brooke founds the White Rajah dynasty of Sarawak.[11]

The last stand of the survivors of Her Majesty’s44th Foot at Gandamak, Afghanistan

1842
Treaty of Nanking. The Massacre of Elphinstone’s Army by the Afghans inAfghanistan results in the death or incarceration of 16,500 soldiers and civilians.[12] The Mines Act of 1842 banned women/children from working in coal,ironlead and tin mining.[10] The Illustrated London News was first published.[13]
1843
Birth of The Princess Alice
1844
Birth of The Prince Alfred
1845
The Irish famine begins. Within 5 years it would become the UK’s worst human disaster, with starvation and emigration reducing the population of Ireland itself by over 50%. The famine permanently changed Ireland’s and Scotland’s demographics and became a rallying point for nationalist sentiment that pervaded British politics for much of the following century.
1846
Repeal of the Corn Laws.[10]

The last of the mail coaches at Newcastle upon Tyne, 1848

1846
Birth of The Princess Helena
1848
Death of around 2,000 people a week in a cholera epidemic.
1848
Birth of The Princess Louise
1850
Restoration of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Britain.
1850
Birth of The Prince Arthur
1851
The Great Exhibition (the first World’s Fair) is held at the Crystal Palace,[10] with great success and international attention. The Victorian gold rush. In ten years the Australian population nearly tripled.[14]

The Great Exhibition in London. The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to industrialise.

1853
Birth of The Prince Leopold
1854
Crimean War: The United Kingdom declares war on Russia.
1857
The Indian Mutiny, a widespread revolt in India against the rule of the British East India Company, is sparked by sepoys (native Indian soldiers) in the Company’s army. The rebellion, involving not just sepoys but many sectors of the Indian population as well, is largely quashed within a year. In response to the mutiny, the East India Company is abolished in August 1858 and India comes under the direct rule of the British crown, beginning the period of the British RajPrince Albert is given the title The Prince Consort
1857
Birth of The Princess Beatrice
1858
The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, responds to the Orsini plot against French emperor Napoleon III, the bombs for which were purchased in Birmingham, by attempting to make such acts a felony; the resulting uproar forces him to resign.
1859
Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species, which leads to various reactions.[10] Victoria and Albert’s first grandchild, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, is born — he later became William II, German EmperorJohn Stuart Mill publishes On Liberty, a defense of the famous harm principle.

Governor-General of IndiaLord Canning meets MaharajaRanbir Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, 1860

1861
Death of Prince Albert;[10] Queen Victoria refuses to go out in public for many years, and when she did she wore a widow’s bonnet instead of the crown.
1863
The Prince of Wales marries Princess Alexandra of Denmark at Windsor.
1865
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is published.
1866
An angry crowd in London, protesting against John Russell‘s resignation as Prime Minister, is barred from Hyde Park by the police; they tear down iron railings and trample on flower beds. Disturbances like this convince Derby and Disraeli of the need for further parliamentary reform.
1867
The Constitution Act, 1867 passes and British North America becomes Dominion of Canada.
1875
Britain purchased Egypt‘s shares in the Suez Canal[10] as the African nation was forced to raise money to pay off its debts.
1876
Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.
1877
The Princess Alice becomes Grand Duchess of Hesse when her husband succeeds as Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse
1878
Treaty of Berlin (1878)Cyprus becomes a Crown colony. The Princess Alice dies. Princess Louise‘s husbandThe Marchioness of Lorne is appointed Governor-General of Canada. First incandescent light bulb by Joseph Wilson Swan.
1879
The Battle of Isandlwana is the first major encounter in the Anglo-Zulu War. Victoria and Albert’s first great-grandchild, Princess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen, is born.

The defence of Rorke’s Driftduring the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879

1882
British troops begin the occupation of Egypt by taking the Suez Canal, in order to secure the vital trade route and passage to India, and the country becomes a protectorate.
1883
Princess Louise and Lord Lorne return from Canada
1884
The Fabian Society is founded in London by a group of middle class intellectuals, including Quaker Edward R. PeaseHavelock Ellis, and E. Nesbit, to promote socialism.[15] Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany dies.
1886
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone and the Liberal Party tries passing the First Irish Home Rule Bill, but theHouse of Commons rejects it.
1888
The serial killer known as Jack the Ripper murders and mutilates five (and possibly more) prostitutes on the streets of London.[10] Victoria’s eldest daughter, the Princess Royal, becomes German Empress when her husband succeeds as Frederick III, German Emperor. Within months, Frederick dies, and their son becomesWilliam II, German Emperor. The widowed Vicky becomes the Dowager Empress as is known as “Empress Frederick”.
1870 – 1891
Under the Elementary Education Act 1870, basic State Education becomes free for every child under the age of 10.[16]
1891
Victoria and Albert’s last grandchild, Prince Maurice of Battenberg, is born.
1892
The Prince of Wales’ eldest son Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence dies of influenza.

Workmen leaving Platt’s Works, Oldham, 1900

1893
The Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh succeeds as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when his uncle dies. The Duchy skips over The Prince of Wales due to his renunciation of his succession rights to that Duchy.
1898
British and Egyptian troops led by Horatio Kitchener defeat the Mahdist forces at the battle of Omdurman, thus establishing British dominance in the Sudan. Winston Churchill takes part in the British cavalry charge at Omdurman.
1899
The Second Boer War is fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics.
1900
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha dies. His nephew Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany succeeds him, because his brother Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and nephew Prince Arthur of Connaught had renounced their rights.
1901
The death of Victoria sees the end of this era. The ascension of her eldest son, Edward, begins the Edwardian era; albeit considerably shorter, this was another time of great change.

The Guardian Angel — The Painting and the Poem and Window it inspired

RB saw the painting the Guardian Angel while visiting Fano on the Adriatic. He was inspired to write the poem “The Guardian Angel –A Picture at Fano.” The window was placed in the Browning Room in 1924, along with two other windows.

The Guardian-Angel by Robert Browning
A PICTURE AT FANO.
I.
Dear and great Angel, wouldst thou only leave
That child, when thou hast done with him, for me!
Let me sit all the day here, that when eve
Shall find performed thy special ministry,
And time come for departure, thou, suspending
Thy flight, mayst see another child for tending,
Another still, to quiet and retrieve.

II.

Then I shall feel thee step one step, no more,
From where thou standest now, to where I gaze,
—And suddenly my head is covered o’er
With those wings, white above the child who prays
Now on that tomb—and I shall feel thee guarding
Me, out of all the world; for me, discarding
Yon heaven thy home, that waits and opes its door.

III.

I would not look up thither past thy head
Because the door opes, like that child, I know,
For I should have thy gracious face instead,
Thou bird of God! And wilt thou bend me low
Like him, and lay, like his, my hands together,
And lift them up to pray, and gently tether
Me, as thy lamb there, with thy garment’s spread?

IV.

If this was ever granted, I would rest
My bead beneath thine, while thy healing hands
Close-covered both my eyes beside thy breast,
Pressing the brain, which too much thought expands,
Back to its proper size again, and smoothing
Distortion down till every nerve had soothing,
And all lay quiet, happy and suppressed.

V.

How soon all worldly wrong would be repaired!
I think how I should view the earth and skies
And sea, when once again my brow was bared
After thy healing, with such different eyes.
O world, as God has made it! All is beauty:
And knowing this, is love, and love is duty.
What further may be sought for or declared?

VI.

Guercino drew this angel I saw teach
(Alfred, dear friend!)—that little child to pray,
Holding the little hands up, each to each
Pressed gently,—with his own head turned away
Over the earth where so much lay before him
Of work to do, though heaven was opening o’er him,
And he was left at Fano by the beach.

VII.

We were at Fano, and three times we went
To sit and see him in his chapel there,
And drink his beauty to our soul’s content
—My angel with me too: and since I care
For dear Guercino’s fame (to which in power
And glory comes this picture for a dower,
Fraught with a pathos so magnificent)—

VIII.

And since he did not work thus earnestly
At all times, and has else endured some wrong—
I took one thought his picture struck from me,
And spread it out, translating it to song.
My love is here. Where are you, dear old friend?
How rolls the Wairoa at your world’s far end?
This is Ancona, yonder is the sea.

Fano, Italy: An ancient causeway leading into the Adriatic.
next poem