Rare Books Display: Robert Browning 1812-1889



A Display celebrating 200 years of ROBERT BROWNING

In Rare Books and Special Collections, Tony Miller Reading Room, Upper Floor, Jubilee Library

1st June – End of September, 2012

Jubilee Library is fortunate to have part of the personal library of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was donated by Leonard Lionel Bloomfield who brought the Collection at Sothebys a few years before his death in 1916.

Some of the items that will be included in the display are interesting in their own right and not just because they belong to the Brownings, for example –

  • A collection of 23 Italian Chap Books, c1830-40, brought by Browning in Naples in 1844, inscribed by Robert Browning and given to his father, Robert Browning Sr. As very little is known about the 1844 visit to Italy, this book provided documentary evidence of his interests at the time.  
  • The Chicago and Alton Official Railroad timetable which included the complete works of Robert Browning! An unusual and rare piece of ‘Browningiana’. The plan of combining high-class literature with railway time-cards was adopted in the belief that it would appeal to the highest culture and most refined taste and the travelling public would  prefer works of permanent value. Browning himself was amused and surprised by this enterprising method of presenting his works to the American reading public.
  • Six manuscript volumes on the history of the Marozia family of Rome, written by Robert Browning Sr., an antiquarian,  and used by Robert as a source for his masterpiece, ‘Ring and the Book’. The research was probably carried out specifically for his son.
  • The library holds the best collection of Robert Browning’s music, 400 pieces of printed music, which includes a presentation copy from Clara Schumann, a good friend of the family. The importance and value of this collection lies in its completeness. Virtually no other music owned by the Brownings survives and music was very important to Robert Browning who wrote a number of important musical poems, such as ‘Abt vogler’, ‘A Toccata of Galuppi’s’ and ‘Master Hugues of Saxe-Gothe’.

Anyone can join the Rare Books Membership Scheme and consult some of the wonderful treasures held in the Special Collections.


Margaret – Rare Books Manager 

For more information on our Rare Books collection call 01273 294005 or e-mail RareBooks@brighton-hove.gov.uk or stop in at Jubilee Library


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