BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861). Autograph notebook, entitled "MSS. By Elizabeth Barrett," containing drafts and working manuscripts of 15 poems (one a series of nine sonnets), including "The Cry of the Human," "Wisdom Unapplied," "The Maiden's Death," "To E.W. C. Painting My Picture," "The Gorse," "The Repose - written in sickness -- but in happiness," "Calls on the Heart," "A Sabbath Morning at Sea," "L. E. .L.'s Last Question," "Loved One," "From Below & From Above," "Sonnets in the Night," "The Fourfold Aspect," Valediction," "An Ode to America: Here's a Land of Noble Freemen," two dated 1839.
4o (200 x 165mm). Title-page and 68 pages of verse, written mostly on rectos, but some versos with additional or reworked verses, in a blank book of 117 pages of wove paper. (Pages 105/106, 107/108 and 109/100 neatly detached.) Contemporary red morocco-backed marbled paper boards, marbled edges (slightly rubbed, especially at extremities). In a dark blue morocco pull-off box, by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.
THE REDISCOVERY OF AN IMPORTANT POETRY NOTEBOOK OF ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, WITH A SEQUENCE OF "SONNETS IN THE NIGHT"
This remarkable and very extensive album of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's early mature verse contains unique drafts and works partly or wholly unpublished, as well as works whose texts differ from the published version. Dated 1839, it predates Elizabeth Barrett's fateful meeting in 1845 with poet Robert Browning and their famous courtship and marriage. Sold in 1913 in the dispersal of the poets' estate, its location has been untraced since offered for sale in Maggs catalogue No.340 issued in 1915. Its rediscovery fills a significant gap in the extant series of Browning's notebooks as enumerated in Kelley and Coley. The notebook, unstudied by several generations of scholars, will provide revealing glimpses of the poet's work to fine-tune her poetic voice and to master and perfect the sonnet form, efforts that culminated in her classic series of "Sonnets from the Portuguese," a decade later. It is certainly the most important manuscript of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to come to light since the sale of the Houghton Collection at Christie's in 1979. Philip Kelley & Betty A. Coley, The Browning Collections: A Reconstruction (1984), D1411.
pp. 3,5,7,9,11 The Cry of the Human Coley & Kelley D172
Incipit: "'There is no God,' the foolish sayeth..."
5 pages. Thirteen 10-line stanzas. Two revisions. Published in Boston Miscellany of Literature and Fashion, November 1842; collected in Complete Works, ed. C. Porter and H.A. Clarke (1900), vol.2, pp. 84-89.
pp. 12,13,14,15 Wisdom Unapplied D1122
Incipit: "If I were thou, O butterfly..."
4 pages. 22 3-line stanzas. A working manuscript, latter stanzas in particular show heavy revisions and corrections. Four stanzas penned on facing recto (p.12). First page illustrated in Maggs, catalogue no.340 (1919), item 1559. One version published in Christian Mother's Magazine, 1845; collected in Complete Works, ed. C. Porter and H.A. Clarke (1900), vol.3, pp. 195-198.
pp. 17,19 The Maiden's Death D503
Incipit: "Is she dying? Ye who grieve..."
2 pages. 34 lines in two stanzas.
Published in The Pioneer (Boston, 1843); and in New Poems by Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ed. F.G. Kenyon (1914), pp. 133-134.
pp. 20,21,23 To E.W.C. Painting My Picture (Here titled "To a Friend Painting my Picture (some years since)" D964
Incipit: "Is it thy mood, o friend, to trace..."
3 pages. Circa ten 8-line stanzas, about 100 lines. Starts on p.21 as fair copy, following stanzas become working manuscript with very heavy revisions and several stanzas drafted on p.20. Another draft ms. (six 8-line stanzas) is in the Berg Collection. Lines 1-14 illustrated in Maggs catalogue 340 (1915). One version published in Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Hitherto Unpublished Poems and Stories, ed. H. B. Forman, Boston, 1914, vol. 2, pp.179-180.
pp. 25,27,29,31,33,35 The Gorse D317
Incipit: "Love's benison upon thee be..."
6 pages. 24 six-line stanzas. Interlinear additions in three stanzas. Unpublished.
pp. 37,39,41,43,44 The Repose -- written in sickness - but in happiness - 1839 D770
Incipit: "The paths of earth are all too rough..."
5 pages. Fifteen 6-line stanzas. Fair copy, with a very few revisions. Maggs catalogue 340 (1915) gives 10 lines; otherwise this work appears entirely unpublished.
pp. 44,45,46,47 Calls on the Heart D99
Incipit: "Free Heart, that singeth today..."
4 pages. Thirteen 10-line stanzas. A working manuscript: the first two stanzas show only a single revision in each; later stanzas are hurriedly drafted, replete with deletions and insertions, some penned diagonally across the pages. Many fair copies of the verse are recorded by Coley and Kelly (D100-D108). Published in Poems (1850); collected in Complete Works, ed. C. Porter and H.A. Clarke (1900), vol.3, pp. 195-198.
pp. 49,51,53,55 A Sabbath morning at Sea (here entitled "A Sabbath on the sea - 1839") D809
Incipit: "The ship went on with sober face..."
4 pages. Sixteen 6-line stanzas. Unpublished.
pp. 57,59,61 L. E. L.'s last Question From her poem written during the voyage D438
Incipit: "Do you think of me, as I think of you?..."
3 pages. Nine 7-line stanzas. One line on p.59 with explanatory footnote; text revision in stanza 3, p.57. Published in The Athenaeum, 26 January 1939; collected in Complete Works, ed. C. Porter and H.A. Clarke (1900), vol.3, pp. 117-119.
pp. 63,65,66,67 Loved One (here titled "Once") D498
Incipit: "I classed and counted once..."
4 pages. Nine 8-line stanzas. Significant revisions to stanzas 1, 5, 7, 8; stanza 13 crossed out. occasional emendations in other stanzas. Unpublished.
pp. 69,71,73,75,77,79 From Below & From Above (deleted title "Despair rebuffed") D309
Incipit: "The face which softly as the sun..."
6 pages. Twenty-six 5-line stanzas, Unpublished.
pp. 81,83,85,86,87,89,91,93,95,97 Sonnets in the Night (a series of nine sonnets, numbered I-IX) D878
10 pages. Nine 14-line sonnets. Sonnet 1 illustrated in Maggs catalogue 340 (1915). All otherwise unpublished.
Sonnet I incipit: "My future will not copy from my past..."
Sonnet II incipit: "I have been in the meadows all the day..." Two words crossed out and replaced
Sonnet III incipit: "I tell you hope less grief is passionless!..."
Sonnet IV incipit: "Thank God, bless God, all ye who suffer not..." Alternate reading of one line; on facing page five lines of verse headed "Commend to grace," an alternate draft of the sonnet's last lines.
Sonnet V incipit: "When some beloved voice which was to you..."
Sonnet VI incipit: "Speak to me O my Jesus, loud and sweet" One word deleted and replaced.
Sonnet VII incipit: "Yet O beloved voices, upon which..."
Sonnet VIII incipit: "What are we set on earth for? Say, to toil!..." Last three lines extensively revised.
Sonnet IX incipit: "The woman singeth at her spinning wheel..."
pp. 99,101,102,103,104,105,107 The Fourfold Aspect D303
Incipit: "When we stood up in the house With our little childish feet..."
7 pages, approximately 148 lines. A draft, with very extensive revisions, with an additional 25 lines added by the poet in very light pencil; pencil text visible beneath the ink in some sections (p.102 and 104). Published in Poems (1844) and collected in Complete Works, ed. C. Porter and H.A. Clarke (1900), vol.3, pp. 75-79.
pp. 109,111 Valediction D1074
Incipit: "God be with thee my beloved, God be with thee!..."
2 pages. Four 11-line stanzas. One word altered in first stanza. Unpublished.
pp. 113,116,117 An Ode to America: Here's a Land of Noble Freemen D590
Incipit: "Here's a land of noble freemen There a land of slaves!..." 3 pages (the last on the rear pastedown). Approximately 70 lines. A working draft, clearly written in the heat of inspiration, with considerable revision and reworking; many interlinear additions. The first ten lines illustrated in Maggs catalogue 340 (1915). Otherwise entirely unpublished
Provenance: R.W. Barrett Browning (sale, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 2 May 1913, lot 114), to the bookseller Frank Sabin - with Maggs Brothers, catalogue 340 (1915), item 1559. - An American collector, by purchase, probably before 1920 - A daughter of the preceding - An American educational charity, gift of the preceding, 2008.