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  • Alison Chapman (a1)

Any attempt to edit EBB's works encounters immediate and overwhelming challenges. The manuscripts, together with letters, books, drawings, and works of art, were more or less blown to the four corners of the globe with the 1913 Sotheby's sale of her son “Pen” Browning's estate. As Philip Kelley and Betty A. Coley put it, this has been considered “a disaster” by scholars (ix). Kelley and Coley's magnificent reconstruction of the contents of Pen's estate, The Browning Collections, lists each item and whereabouts, if known (the reference aid is updated at The Brownings: A Research Guide It is a disheartening as well as essential reading for the researcher, for its catalogue includes academic and public libraries, private collection and associations, throughout North America and Europe. Although locating those Browning effects is now easier with The Browning Collections, should the scholar have funds for travel, the manuscripts themselves are in a perilous state. Not only are they often fragile (especially the important tiny notebooks) but also often extremely challenging to read because of the spidery, faint, and often illegible handwriting. Barrett Browning often revised her poems and had false starts, and sometimes one poem in manuscript is entwined into another. They are, as EBB herself declared, a “chaos of illegibility” (Works 1: xxxiv). The poetry manuscripts do not readily welcome the editor. In addition to the geographical and paleographical challenges, EBB's corpus was huge, including the ballad, verse novel, narrative, dramatic lyric, sonnet and sonnet sequence, translation, hymn, dream vision, lyrical drama, ode, tribute poem, and elegy. Finally, much of the information about her poetry comes from the ongoing Brownings’ Correspondence, which includes letters both sent and received, and is currently at volume 18 (up to March 1853) out of a projected 40. There is a wealth of material by the Brownings, and not all of it readily accessible. Editing the works of EBB is a daunting prospect.

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Armstrong Isobel. “The Long Nineteenth Century: Where Have the Women Poets Gone?.” Victorian Poetry Network, Web. 4 February 2011.
Armstrong Isobel, and Bristow Joseph, eds. Nineteenth-Century Women Poets. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.
Barrett Browning Elizabeth. Aurora Leigh. Ed. Reynolds Margaret. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996. Print.
Barrett Browning Elizabeth. Casa Guidi Windows. Ed. Markus Julia. New York: The Browning Institute, 1977. Print.
Barrett Browning Elizabeth. The Complete Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Ed. Porter Charlotte and Clarke Helen A.. 6 vols. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1900. Print.
Barrett Browning Elizabeth. Selected Poems. Ed. Stone Marjorie and Taylor Beverly. Toronto: Broadview, 2009. Print.
Barrett Browning Elizabeth. The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. London: Oxford UP, 1932. Print.
Barrett Browning Elizabeth. Sonnets from the Portuguese: Centennial Variorum Edition. Ed. Ratchford Elizabeth, F.. New York: P. C. Duschnes, 1950. Print.
Barrett Browning Elizabeth. The Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. General Editor Donaldson Sandra. 5 vols. London: Pickering and Chatto, 2010. Print.
The Brownings: A Research Guide Web. 4 February 2011.
Chapman Alison. “‘Vulgar needs’: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Profit, and Literary Value.’” Victorian Literature and Finance. Ed. O'Gorman Francis. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. 7391. Print.
Kelley Philip, and Coley Betty A. (compilers). The Browning Collections: A Reconstruction With Other Memorabilia. Winfield, KS: Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University, The Browning Institute. Mansell Publishing and Wedgestone, 1984. Print.
Lootens Tricia. Lost Saints: Silence, Gender, and Victorian Literary Canonization. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1996. Print.
Mermin Dorothy. Elizabeth Barrett Browning: The Origins of a New Poetry. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1989. Print.
Rossetti Christina. The Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti: A Variorum Edition. Ed. Crump R. W.. 3 vols. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1980–1990. Print.
Stone Marjorie. “Constructing the Archive and the Nation in ‘Italy! world's Italy’, ‘My Last Duchess’, Aurora Leigh, and an Unpublished Manuscript by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Victorian Review 33.2 (2007): 3557. Print.
Stone Marjorie. “Sisters in Art: Christina Rossetti and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Victorian Poetry 32.3/4 (1994): 339–64. Print.
Timney Meagan, Leitch Cara, and Siemens Ray. “Opening the Gates: A New Model for Edition Production in a Time of Collaboration” Web. 4 February 2011.
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Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
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