BROWNING (ELIZABETH BARRETT) Fine autograph letter signed ("EB Barrett"), the second and concluding bifolium, to John Kenyon, Torquay, 10 June 1839

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Lot 34
BROWNING (ELIZABETH BARRETT)
Fine autograph letter signed ("EB Barrett"), the second and concluding bifolium, to John Kenyon, Torquay, 10 June 1839

Sold for £ 3,825 (US$ 5,283) inc. premium
BROWNING (ELIZABETH BARRETT)
Fine autograph letter signed ("EB Barrett"), the second and concluding bifolium, to John Kenyon, her intimate friend and cousin and dedicatee of Aurora Leigh, describing her illness ("...with a full knowledge of the peculiar uncertainties of my complaint, I do consider myself, & am convinced by the physician who attends me, hopefully better..."), life in Torquay including receiving a visitor ("...It has been a thing forbidden, & indeed for many weeks & months together... I did not leave my bedroom..."), discussing the fortunes of Mary Russell Mitford and confessing that she pines for her father and Wimpole Street ("...the longing for home will be helped away by nothing I am sure until I can get back again to Wimpole Street... I believe I never loved my dearest Papa & all of them, until I left them..."), 3 pages, professional repairs to margin, guard, 8vo (180 x 115mm.), Torquay, 10 June 1839

Footnotes

  • 'I DO CONSIDER MYSELF, & AM CONVINCED BY THE PHYSICIAN WHO ATTENDS ME, HOPEFULLY BETTER': Elizabeth Barrett writes from her convalescence in Torquay to her cousin and 'Guardian Angel', John Kenyon.

    'In 1837–8 she was stricken with a second prolonged illness which continued over four years, in which she suffered from 'blood spitting, irregular heart action, loss of voice', elevated body temperature, fainting, and insomnia, symptoms associated today with either bronchiectasis or 'tuberculous ulceration of the lungs... On 25 August 1838 she left the polluted air of mid-Victorian London for Torquay, and despite the hopes expressed in this letter, she was not to return to Wimpole Street until 11 September 1841' (Marjorie Stone, ODNB). Only months after writing this letter she suffered two tragedies, in February the death of her brother Samuel in Jamaica and the following July that of her beloved brother Bro in a sailing accident, events which would inspire her poems De Profundis and Grief.

    John Kenyon was also a friend of Robert Browning's father and it was he who encouraged Robert to write to Elizabeth, as well as, with some persistence on his part, arranging their first meeting.

    A short extract of the letter published in a Sotheby's catalogue of 5 July 1900, lot 131, describes the letter as already incomplete (see Kelley and Hudson, The Brownings' Correspondence: A Checklist, 1978, p.19). See also Phillips sale, 15 November 1990, lot 67.
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