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Philip Kelley
Baylor University (Waco, TX 76798-7284)

Scholarly Editions and Translations
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$180,000 (approved)
$180,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2004 – 6/30/2006

The Brownings' Correspondence

Preparation of annotations for 445 letters making up volumes 15-18 of The Brownings' Correspondence covering the years 1848-1852 and published by Wedgestone Press.

The works and lives of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a profound influence on nineteenth-century literature and culture and continue to have a significant and lasting impact on world literature. Their poetry, published during their lifetimes, received intense scrutiny and much praise from the reading public and literary critics. Upon their deaths, and later with the publication of their love letters in 1899, public and scholarly attention increased. The story of their romantic courtship, marriage, and flight to Italy has been told and retold through books, plays, musicals, films, and television. Interest in Robert Browning's poetry has never waned. There are currently in progress three scholarly editions of his complete works. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetry has received increased focus in the last thirty years during which time there has been an explosion of scholarly articles and critical and biographical studies. Unfortunately, this interest and enthusiasm is greatly impeded in that a large part of the Brownings' literature - their correspondence - remains virtually inaccessible. Scattered in over 300 public and private collections, their letters represent one of the largest and most comprehensive bodies of literary and social commentary on the nineteenth century. The aim of The Brownings' Correspondence is to publish the complete text of all the Brownings' letters with full annotations, thereby making them accessible and understandable to a modern audience. Thus far, 14 volumes, of a projected 40, have been edited with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The present application requests three-year funding to edit a further four volumes of the edition, covering the years 1848-1852. During this period, the Brownings and their correspondents discuss a wide range of social, political, and cultural subjects, some of which include the revolutions sweeping through Europe, Italian unification, slavery, women's rights, education, and freedom of the press. The letters in these volumes also serve to illuminate the work of both poets: RB's Poems (1849) and Christmas-Eve and Easter Day (1950); EBB's Poems (1850) and Casa Guidi Windows (1851).