Bust of Dante Given to Baylor on This Day in 1922

The bust of Dante, given to Baylor by Joseph P. Todaro of Temple, Texas, is on display in the Research Hall of the Armstrong Browning Library.

The bust of Dante, given to Baylor by Joseph P. Todaro of Temple, Texas, is on display in the Research Hall of the Armstrong Browning Library.

By Colby Henderlite, ABL Graduate Assistant

On 15 June 1922, Baylor honored the 600th anniversary of the death of Italian poet Dante Alighieri with a public event. To celebrate, Baylor held a ceremony which not only honored the poet but also included speeches and gifts to the University. Baylor’s celebration was one of many held around the world to remember the great poet. Politicians from across the United States, including President Warren G. Harding and Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, sent greetings and tributes to Dante to be read during the ceremony at the request of Dr. A.J. Armstrong, chair of Baylor’s English Department and organizer of the event (“Dante Sei-Centennial Will Take Place at Baylor June 15”).

The ceremony included a speech by American poet and lecturer Richard E. Burton. It also included the presentation by Joseph P. Todaro, a Temple, Texas, businessman, of a bust of Dante to the University. Todaro, a native Italian, gave the bust to Baylor as a thank you gift to Dr. Armstrong who had helped him study English.

During the presentation of the bust, Todaro said, “I am most happy to be the means of securing and presenting this marble bust of the poet to this University as a token of my sincere friendship” (Todaro). The Carrara marble bust was made to resemble the famous statue of Dante in the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks accepted the gift on behalf of the University. Along with the bust, the Waco Tribune noted Todaro’s gift of a rare illustrated copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy “in handsomely embossed leather binding” (“Dante Sei-Centennial Will Take Place at Baylor June 15”). The bust, donated to Baylor on this day 93 years ago, is on display in the Research Hall of the Armstrong Browning Library.


“Dante Sei-Centennial Will Take Place at Baylor June 15.” Waco Tribune 11 June 1922. Print.

Lewis, Scott. Boundless Life: A Biography of Andrew Joseph Armstrong. Waco, Texas: Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University, 2014. Print.

Todaro, Joseph P. Signed typescript of speech by Joseph P. Todaro. Baylor University. Waco, Texas. 15 June 1922.


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.