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.
This unpublished letter outlines Arnold’s travel plans in America.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 .
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”:
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 Virtually the entire edition was withdrawn and destroyed.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 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.
…. 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…