A Christmas Card from Robert Browning


The Armstrong Browning Library has in its collections a Christmas card send by Robert Browning to Emily Marion Harris, a poet and writer of romance novels, who corresponded with Robert Browning during the last decade of his life. The inscription reads: “To Miss E. M. Harris, With more love and respect than need accompany so poor a gift. Robert Browning.” The Christmas card is not what you would expect a traditional card to look like. The scene is a landscape painting on an easel, with a palette bearing the solitary word “Remembrance.” The greeting on the card reads: “With best wishes for a Happy Christmas.” The logo on the back of the card indicates that it was published by J. F. Schipper & Co., Art Publishers, London and that the item, No. 860, has a copyright. There is no date printed on the card ; and, unfortunately, Browning did not include a date on his greeting, but it is likely that it was sent sometime between 1884 and 1888.

The J. F. Schipper Publishing Company was dissolved or struck off the register of Joint Stock Companies in 1906. According to the London Gazette, May 9, 1890, the company folded on the 6th day of May, 1890. Periodical articles mentioning the company date from 1882. The company was formerly Herman Rothe Publishers which operated from 1874 until early 1881. Mr. Rothe died in 1881 at the age of 36. The card therefore dates sometime between 1881 and 1889. Another source describes the set of Christmas cards for 1885, saying “one of the most notable series consists of Reproductions of eight of Turner’s Masterpieces.”

Does anyone recognize the painting on the easel as a J. M. W. Turner reproduction? Or where we might get a copy of the sample book of Christmas cards published by J. F. Schipper & Company? Do you have any other information that might help us to date the Christmas card?

Melinda Creech

Merry Christmas from everyone at the

Armstrong Browning Library

We wish you great joy during this beautiful season

and every happiness

throughout the New Year.


2012 is an exciting, busy year for the ABL&M. This year we celebrate two important anniversaries: the 200th anniversary of Robert Browning’s birth year (1812) and the 100th anniversary of Dr. Andrew Joseph Armstrong’s arrival at Baylor (1912). Dr. A served as chair of the English Department until his retirement in 1952. The ABL&M will sponsor a number of special events in honor of the anniversaries and join with other groups (e.g., the Browning Society of London (www.browningsociety.org), Poet in the City,etc.) in celebration. Below is a timeline of known events scheduled at the ABL&M and in London and Oxford.

March 28 – May 19 at ABL&M: Special display, “Texas Poets” (first floor), in connection with the House of Poetry events.

April: National Poetry Month

April 16, 7:00 p.m., King’s Place, London: A celebration of Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” in collaboration with Poet in the City. Speakers: Daniel Karlin, Margaret Reynolds, Pamela Neville-Sington and Anne Hardy.

April 21, in connection with the Baylor Alumni Association’s Fling: A special presentation by Director Rita Patteson and Cynthia Burgess, Curator of Books and Printed Materials, entitled “ABL&M 2012: Celebrating a Poet’s Life and a Professor’s Dream.” Tours of the Library & Museum will be offered.

May 7, 2:00 p.m., ABL&M: The Browning Day Lecture by Dr. Sandra Donaldson, U. of North Dakota, General Editor of The Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

May 7, 6:30 p.m.: The Fano Club Dinner (following Dr. Donaldson’s lecture)

May 13, 4:00 p.m., London: Commemorative Evensong at St. Marylebone Church (site of the marriage of RB and EBB). Professor Margaret Reynolds, special guest speaker.

(Note: May 20 through June 3, ABL&M will be closed for annual maintenance.)

June 28 – 30, Royal Holloway, London: Conference sponsored by the London Browning Society in recognition of RB’s 200th birthday, entitled: “Reassessing the Dramatic Monologue in the 19th and 20th Centuries: Browning, Before, Beyond.”

July – December: Special exhibit in coordination with the launch of Dr. Scott Lewis’s new biography of Dr. A. J. Armstrong, the opening of the Garden of Contentment on the ABL&M lawn and the ABL&M’s International Conference in November.

September 14: dedication of the Garden of Contentment.

September 20: One-day symposium on Victorian faith and doubt in honor of Browning’s 200th birthday. Sponsored by the Institute for Studies of Religion and the ABL&M.

September 22, Balliol College, Oxford: “Browning and Oxford,” including a presentation by Seamus Perry, College Librarian and Vice-Master of Balliol.

Homecoming: Launch of the new biography of Dr. Andrew Joseph Armstrong by Dr. Scott Lewis; dedication of the “Garden of Contentment.”

November 1 -3, ABL&M: International conference, Robert Browning and Victorian Poetry at 200.” Keynote speaker: Dr. Herbert Tucker.

December 7, London: ABL&M leadership will participate with the London Browning Society and others in the laying of wreaths on the tomb of Robert Browning (Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey).

Other special events will be announced as they are finalized.