…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.


The Round-Up 1926 Published by the Senior Class of Baylor University

1926 was an important year in the history of the Browning Collection. It was only one year after the London Times described the collection of Browning materials at Baylor the largest Browning Collection in the world, a distinction it has retained. In 1926 the Senior Class produced the “Browning Edition” of the University’s yearbook, dedicated to Dr. Andrew J. Armstrong, English Department Head from 1912 to 1952, and founder of the Browning Collection, which he gave to the University in 1918.

Because he is a Browning Scholar of world-wide fame, being “made up of an intensest life,” and having devoted that life to the spirt of Baylor and of Browning, with the result that they are synonymous in the minds of men at home and abroad.

And because he has given Baylor the Browning collection, a priceless pearl of truth and beauty, which will inspire in future generations to plunge, to strive, and to attain–

We, the Senior Class of 1926 , dedicate the Browning Edition of the Round-Up.”

The second and third pages of the Round-Up feature four poems about Robert Browning, including “Browning in Texas” by the British poet Edwin Markham, one of about forty poets that Dr. Armstrong ultimately brought to the campus.

Browning in Texas

Browning, your soul ranged over land and seas

Seeking this import of the march of man:

You were at home with folk of all degrees,

From Paracelsus down to Caliban.

But did you ever in your circling sweep

Behold this young dominion of mankind

Which for all coming centuries will keep

Tokens and trophies of your Orphic mind?

Texas! Did that name whisper in your brain

When you were searching life with peering eyes?

Ah, she is spacious as your song’s domain;

And like it, she is archt with starry skies.

Being great herself–wing-thrilled from every pole–

She folds in her own the greatness of your soul.

Excerpts from Robert Browning’s poetry are scattered throughout the yearbook, beginning with the Epilogue to Asolando:

“One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,

Never doubted clouds would break,

Never dreamed, though right was worsted, wrong would triumph,

Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake.”

The above quote is followed by a photograph of the last formal portrait of Robert Browning, completed by his and Elizabeth’s only offspring Pen (Robert Barrett Browning) in May/June 1889. Shown just below the portrait is the sculpture “The Clasped Hands,” cast by the American sculptor, and Browning friend, Harriet Hosmer in 1853. Excerpts from other Robert Browning poems in the Round-Up include: “The year’s at the spring” from Pippa Passes, “The Guardian Angel,” “Rabbi ben Ezra,” “Love Among the Ruins,” “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” the Invocation to his masterwork “The Ring and the Book,” dedicating the work to Elizabeth’s memory, “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix,” and “Paracelsus.” Included are photographs of the original three stained glass windows placed in The Browning Room at its completion in 1924 and moved to the Armstrong Browning Library & Museum in late 1951. The Library & Museum now has 62 stained glass windows.

If you get simple beauty and nought else,

You get about the best thing God invents.

R. Browning, A Death in the Desert