BROWNING (ROBERT) Autograph letter signed ("R Browning"), to "My dear Powell", [?May 1844]
Lot 10*
BROWNING (ROBERT) Autograph letter signed ("R Browning"), to "My dear Powell", [?May 1844]
Sold for £1,062 (US$ 1,784) inc. premium
Lot Details
Autograph letter signed ("R Browning"), to "My dear Powell", asking him to pay Smith & Elder "on account of Mr Fearne, the subscription-money for that same book I am to receive" ("...Otherwise, all parties will think I take its title for 'Subscription & Repentance' – whereas, in spite of our fun yesterday, I shall be really glad to have my copy, & reimburse you when next you 'come across' Yours ever truly..."); with a postscript asking when he should call for it and "'Coningsby'!!!", one page, paper manufacturer's Prince of Wales feathers blindstamp, integral blank (folded diagonally, seemingly for delivery), docketed "Poet –", traces of mounting on blank and a thin patch, slight browning and creasing, 8vo, "Monday Morning" [?May 1844]


  • BROWNING TO THE FORGER AND CONFIDENCE MAN THOMAS POWELL. Powell is widely regarded as an inspiration for Uriah Heep: he had insinuated himself into the confidence of Dickens and other leading writers of the day such as Browning and Leigh Hunt, but in 1849 was forced to flee to America when it was discovered he had embezzled his employer out of £10,000; feigning madness along the way. In America, he continued in the same line of business, abusing the confidence of writers such as Herman Melville and publishing The Living Authors of England in 1849, followed by The Living Authors of America in 1850, with Dickens taking the lead in denouncing him. For a recent assessment of his career, see The Powell Papers: A Confidence Man Amok Among the Anglo-American Literati (2011) by Melville's biographer Hershel Parker.

    Disraeli's Coningsby was published by Colburn on 11 May 1844; its Preface dated May Day. Schism and Repentance: A Subject in Season (1844) by Joseph Fearn was published by Smith Elder with a dedication dated 13 March 1844. 'Browning, R., Esq., Hatcham, Surrey' is listed among the subscribers; along with 'Powell, Thomas, Esq., New Peckham, 3 copies'. It was reviewed in the June number of Smith Elder's The British Churchman ('...A very well written and useful story, calculated to be of much benefit to doubting Churchmen...') alongside Bells and Pomegranates No. XI [sic for VI] ('...The faults of Robert Browning, as a poet, are great, but his beauties are far greater...'), both on p.244.

    A transcript of this letter is cited in the Armstrong Browning Library online Checklist (44018-00). See illustration on preceding page.
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  1. Simon Roberts
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