Life and Letters of Robert Browning


Mrs. Sutherland Orr (Editor)

Series: Historical Figures

BISAC: LAN000000

Robert Browning was one of the greatest English poets of the Victorian era. This biography contains letters Browning wrote to relatives and friends throughout his life, giving an insight into his formation as a poet.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Origin of the Browning Family—Robert Browning’s Grandfather—His position and Character—His first and second Marriage—Unkindness towards his eldest Son, Robert Browning’s Father—Alleged Infusion of West Indian Blood through Robert Browning’s Grandmother—Existing Evidence against it—The Grandmother’s Portrait.

Chapter 2. Robert Browning’s Father—His Position in Life—Comparison between him and his Son—Tenderness towards his Son—Outline of his Habits and Character—His Death—Significant Newspaper Paragraph—Letter of Mr. Locker—Lampson—Robert Browning’s Mother—Her Character and Antecedents—Their Influence upon her Son—Nervous Delicacy imparted to both her Children—Its special Evidences in her Son.

Chapter 3. 1812-1826. Birth of Robert Browning—His Childhood and Schooldays—Restless Temperament—Brilliant Mental Endowments—Incidental Peculiarities—Strong Religious Feeling—Passionate Attachment to his Mother; Grief at first Separation—Fondness for Animals—Experiences of School Life—Extensive Reading—Early Attempts in Verse—Letter from his Father concerning them—Spurious Poems in Circulation—’Incondita’—Mr. Fox—Miss Flower.

Chapter 4. 1826-1833. First Impressions of Keats and Shelley—Prolonged Influence of Shelley—Details of Home Education—Its Effects—Youthful Restlessness—Counteracting Love of Home—Early Friendships: Alfred Domett, Joseph Arnould, the Silverthornes—Choice of Poetry as a Profession—Alternative Suggestions; mistaken Rumours concerning them—Interest in Art—Love of good Theatrical Performances—Talent for Acting—Final Preparation for Literary Life.

Chapter 5. 1833-1835. ‘Pauline’—Letters to Mr. Fox—Publication of the Poem; chief Biographical and Literary Characteristics—Mr. Fox’s Review in the ‘Monthly Repository’; other Notices—Russian Journey—Desired diplomatic Appointment—Minor Poems; first Sonnet; their Mode of Appearance—’The Trifler’—M. de Ripert-Monclar—’Paracelsus’—Letters to Mr. Fox concerning it; its Publication—Incidental Origin of ‘Paracelsus’; its inspiring Motive; its Relation to ‘Pauline’—Mr. Fox’s Review of it in the ‘Monthly Repository’—Article in the ‘Examiner’ by John Forster.

Chapter 6. 1835-1838. Removal to Hatcham; some Particulars—Renewed Intercourse with the second Family of Robert Browning’s Grandfather—Reuben Browning—William Shergold Browning—Visitors at Hatcham—Thomas Carlyle—Social Life—New Friends and Acquaintance—Introduction to Macready—New Year’s Eve at Elm Place—Introduction to John Forster—Miss Fanny Haworth—Miss Martineau—Serjeant Talfourd—The ‘Ion’ Supper—’Strafford’—Relations with Macready—Performance of ‘Strafford’—Letters concerning it from Mr. Browning and Miss Flower—Personal Glimpses of Robert Browning—Rival Forms of Dramatic Inspiration—Relation of ‘Strafford’ to ‘Sordello’—Mr. Robertson and the ‘Westminster Review’.

Chapter 7. 1838-1841. First Italian Journey—Letters to Miss Haworth—Mr. John Kenyon—’Sordello’—Letter to Miss Flower—’Pippa Passes’—’Bells and Pomegranates’.

Chapter 8. 1841-1844. ‘A Blot in the ‘Scutcheon’—Letters to Mr. Frank Hill; Lady Martin—Charles Dickens—Other Dramas and Minor Poems—Letters to Miss Lee; Miss Haworth; Miss Flower—Second Italian Journey; Naples—E. J. Trelawney—Stendhal.

Chapter 9. 1844-1849. Introduction to Miss Barrett—Engagement—Motives for Secrecy—Marriage—Journey to Italy—Extract of Letter from Mr. Fox—Mrs. Browning’s Letters to Miss Mitford—Life at Pisa—Vallombrosa—Florence; Mr. Powers; Miss Boyle—Proposed British Mission to the Vatican—Father Prout—Palazzo Guidi—Fano; Ancona—’A Blot in the ‘Scutcheon’ at Sadler’s Wells.

Chapter 10. 1849-1852. Death of Mr. Browning’s Mother—Birth of his Son—Mrs. Browning’s Letters continued—Baths of Lucca—Florence again—Venice—Margaret Fuller Ossoli—Visit to England—Winter in Paris—Carlyle—George Sand—Alfred de Musset.

Chapter 11. 1852-1855. M. Joseph Milsand—His close Friendship with Mr. Browning; Mrs. Browning’s Impression of him—New Edition of Mr. Browning’s Poems—’Christmas Eve and Easter Day’—’Essay’ on Shelley—Summer in London—Dante Gabriel Rossetti—Florence; secluded Life—Letters from Mr. and Mrs. Browning—’Colombe’s Birthday’—Baths of Lucca—Mrs. Browning’s Letters—Winter in Rome—Mr. and Mrs. Story—Mrs. Sartoris—Mrs. Fanny Kemble—Summer in London—Tennyson—Ruskin.

Chapter 12. 1855-1858. ‘Men and Women’—’Karshook’—’Two in the Campagna’—Winter in Paris; Lady Elgin—’Aurora Leigh’—Death of Mr. Kenyon and Mr. Barrett—Penini—Mrs. Browning’s Letters to Miss Browning—The Florentine Carnival—Baths of Lucca—Spiritualism—Mr. Kirkup; Count Ginnasi—Letter from Mr. Browning to Mr. Fox—Havre.

Chapter 13. 1858-1861. Mrs. Browning’s Illness—Siena—Letter from Mr. Browning to Mr. Leighton—Mrs. Browning’s Letters continued—Walter Savage Landor—Winter in Rome—Mr. Val Prinsep—Friends in Rome: Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright—Multiplying Social Relations—Massimo d’Azeglio—Siena again—Illness and Death of Mrs. Browning’s Sister—Mr. Browning’s Occupations—Madame du Quaire—Mrs. Browning’s last Illness and Death.

Chapter 14. 1861-1863. Miss Blagden—Letters from Mr. Browning to Miss Haworth and Mr. Leighton—His Feeling in regard to Funeral Ceremonies—Establishment in London—Plan of Life—Letter to Madame du Quaire—Miss Arabel Barrett—Biarritz—Letters to Miss Blagden—Conception of ‘The Ring and the Book’—Biographical Indiscretion—New Edition of his Works—Mr. and Mrs. Procter.

Chapter 15. 1863-1869. Pornic—’James Lee’s Wife’—Meeting at Mr. F. Palgrave’s—Letters to Miss Blagden—His own Estimate of his Work—His Father’s Illness and Death; Miss Browning—Le Croisic—Academic Honours; Letter to the Master of Balliol—Death of Miss Barrett—Audierne—Uniform Edition of his Works—His rising Fame—’Dramatis Personae’—’The Ring and the Book’; Character of Pompilia.

Chapter 16. 1869-1873. Lord Dufferin; Helen’s Tower—Scotland; Visit to Lady Ashburton—Letters to Miss Blagden—St.-Aubin; The Franco-Prussian War—’Herve Riel’—Letter to Mr. G. M. Smith—’Balaustion’s Adventure’; ‘Prince Hohenstiel—Schwangau’—’Fifine at the Fair’—Mistaken Theories of Mr. Browning’s Work—St.-Aubin; ‘Red Cotton Nightcap Country’.

Chapter 17. 1873-1878. London Life—Love of Music—Miss Egerton-Smith—Periodical Nervous Exhaustion—Mers; ‘Aristophanes’ Apology’—’Agamemnon’—’The Inn Album’—’Pacchiarotto and other Poems’—Visits to Oxford and Cambridge—Letters to Mrs. Fitz-Gerald—St. Andrews; Letter from Professor Knight—In the Savoyard Mountains—Death of Miss Egerton-Smith—’La Saisiaz’; ‘The Two Poets of Croisic’—Selections from his Works.

Chapter 18. 1878-1884. He revisits Italy; Asolo; Letters to Mrs. Fitz-Gerald—Venice—Favourite Alpine Retreats—Mrs. Arthur Bronson—Life in Venice—A Tragedy at Saint-Pierre—Mr. Cholmondeley—Mr. Browning’s Patriotic Feeling; Extract from Letter to Mrs. Charles Skirrow—’Dramatic Idyls’—’Jocoseria’—’Ferishtah’s Fancies’.

Chapter 19. 1881-1887. The Browning Society; Mr. Furnivall; Miss E. H. Hickey—His Attitude towards the Society; Letter to Mrs. Fitz-Gerald—Mr. Thaxter, Mrs. Celia Thaxter—Letter to Miss Hickey; ‘Strafford’—Shakspere and Wordsworth Societies—Letters to Professor Knight—Appreciation in Italy; Professor Nencioni—The Goldoni Sonnet—Mr. Barrett Browning; Palazzo Manzoni—Letters to Mrs. Charles Skirrow—Mrs. Bloomfield Moore—Llangollen; Sir Theodore and Lady Martin—Loss of old Friends—Foreign Correspondent of the Royal Academy—’Parleyings with certain People of Importance in their Day’.

Chapter 20. Constancy to Habit—Optimism—Belief in Providence—Political Opinions—His Friendships—Reverence for Genius—Attitude towards his Public—Attitude towards his Work—Habits of Work—His Reading—Conversational Powers—Impulsiveness and Reserve—Nervous Peculiarities—His Benevolence—His Attitude towards Women.

Chapter 21. 1887-1889. Marriage of Mr. Barrett Browning—Removal to De Vere Gardens—Symptoms of failing Strength—New Poems; New Edition of his Works—Letters to Mr. George Bainton, Mr. Smith, and Lady Martin—Primiero and Venice—Letters to Miss Keep—The last Year in London—Asolo—Letters to Mrs. Fitz-Gerald, Mrs. Skirrow, and Mr. G. M. Smith.

Chapter 22. 1889. Proposed Purchase of Land at Asolo—Venice—Letter to Mr. G. Moulton-Barrett—Lines in the ‘Athenaeum’—Letter to Miss Keep—Illness—Death—Funeral Ceremonial at Venice—Publication of ‘Asolando’—Interment in Poets’ Corner.


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