Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1845–1846
Robert Browning (1812–1889) and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1845–1846, The, were published by Robert Barrett Browning, son of the two poets, in 1899. The two volumes comprise all the letters that passed between Browning and Miss Barrett from their first acquaintance to their marriage, September 12, 1846, and clandestine departure for Italy. Since they were never separated thereafter no other letters are in existence. The circumstances of the correspondence were unusual and romantic. Miss Barrett was an invalid, confined to the house and subject to the whims of a selfish and eccentric father. She was the best-known woman poet of her day, and much more famous than Browning, whose work was appreciated only by a few. Each was greatly impressed by the poetry of the other, and he fell in love with her before they met. After some months’ correspondence they were brought together through the good offices of a common friend, and Browning was thereafter a weekly visitor. In the letters, which are almost daily through the eighteen months of their courtship, we read their discussions of one another’s poetry, their expression of intimate friendship rapidly growing into love, their playful contention in unselfish devotion, their expression of all that love has effected in transforming and enriching their lives. As the correspondence continues we note the difficulty caused by the father’s irrational opposition to the match, the daughter’s final determination to act without his consent, the marriage concealed from him for a time, and the arrangement for Elizabeth Browning’s departure with her husband for Italy—a step which in spite of her father’s predictions of disaster proved the foundation of health and happiness, though it was never forgiven. At the time of publication some controversy arose as to the propriety of giving these letters to the world. It should be noted that Browning left them to his son to use as he saw fit, and that therefore he could not have objected to the idea of their publication. Moreover, although the reader sometimes has a feeling that he is an eavesdropper in a conversation sacred to two persons only, this feeling disappears in his enthusiasm at witnessing the idealizing power of love in its noblest form. To destroy the record of the love of two such highly gifted natures, whose love was itself a poem, would have been a wrong to the world.  1

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