Intimate Glimpses from Browning's Letter File: Selected from Letters in the Baylor University Browning Collection; Being Baylor University's Browning Interests, Series Eight

Intimate Glimpses from Browning's Letter File: Selected from Letters in the Baylor University Browning Collection; Being Baylor University's Browning Interests, Series Eight

Intimate Glimpses from Browning's Letter File: Selected from Letters in the Baylor University Browning Collection; Being Baylor University's Browning Interests, Series Eight

Intimate Glimpses from Browning's Letter File: Selected from Letters in the Baylor University Browning Collection; Being Baylor University's Browning Interests, Series Eight

Excerpt

To really know the Victorians one must read their letters, for the Englishmen of the times of our fathers and grand-fathers were ardent correspondents. An insight into the life of the English people during the last thirty years of the nineteenth century is given in this volume of letters written to Browning by his friends and acquaintances. Although these letters are not as important as any series written by Browning himself, they nevertheless are an important contribution to Browning information, showing as they do the many people who knew the poet.

A many-sided Browning is revealed by this correspondence, and one might even say that a complete knowledge of Browning and his correspondence would predicate an understanding of the England of the latter eighteen-hundreds. The statement has been made that the poet Browning lived apart from his generation, and that, unlike Milton, his poetry gives no information of his own times. Nevertheless this Browning correspondence discloses a Browning different from that pictured in biographies and criticisms. True, his poetry is not occasional writing, nor was he ever active in politics, yet Browning was one of the key-men of his generation.

In these letters the Victorians live again in a round of social activity that has not been approached since then by the moderns. They enjoyed life. Here Browning is shown as a man whose company was much sought after by those who belonged to English society. An invitation to dinner with Jusserand, later French ambassador to the United States, a personal greeting from William Gladstone, a request to join a party to dine with the Prince of Wales, queries about his poems, discussions on Persian literature, requests for his influence in the aiding of some project--all are included in this kaleidoscopic correspondence that streamed into the poet's home at 19 Warwick Crescent, London, during the last twenty years of his life when he was one of the best known and most sought after men in England. Not to know Browning was not to be known.

Such a man as Browning was necessarily imposed upon many times, and occasionally the author of some unwise question would receive a stern . . .

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