'We All Want To Like': Robert Browning
Robert Browning is one of those curious mixtures of modern sensibility with a Romantic's soul so commonly found in the nineteenth century. Like others of his time (Darwin, Alexander Bell), Browning's personality was one that veered towards the new science and technology that was starting to be born in the wake of the mass industrialisation of Europe. His voice was one of the first to be recorded on wax cylinder, reciting his poem How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix, which is now regarded as the first recording to be aired after the original speaker's death (in 1889).
Robert Browning's work however, cannot be much different from his progressivist and modern interests. He wrote poems, soliloquys and monologues as well as epic verse, much in the style of the Victorians and the Romantics. His earliest works paid a great tribute to Shelley in particular, whilst his work Paracelsus was devoted to semi mystical subjects such as alchemy and religion. Browning's work itself has a whimsical edge, placing it in that fine British tradition that leads to nonsense rhymes, nursery tales, or folk sayings.
His whimsical nature however, did not extend to his own personal beliefs, as he was a staunch opponent of Spiritualism and Mediumship, which he saw as an unabashed fraud. Browning married the very well respected poet Elizabeth Barrett, whose fame eclipsed his own, yet together they formed a happy union. Later commentators - particularly the modernists Anthony Burgess, T.S. Elliot have later said of Browning that he is a poet whom they all deeply admire and 'want to like' but whose work remains troublesomely insubstantial. Perhaps one of Browning's lasting achievements is to remain elusive, and paradoxical to modern ears.
For the collector, the most sought-for item would be his very early work, the Paracelsus, 1835 from Effingham Wilson. The First Edition is still available with an attractive red hard cover, for as little as seven hundred US dollars. The volume may not age well or increase in value by a considerable amount, so be sure to choose an edition in good to near mint as possible condition.
Browning, Robert. Paracelsus. Effingham Wilson (1835). Signed On Half-Title By Arabella Shore London Fitzroy
Browning, Robert. STRAFFORD. Printed for Longman (1837). An Historical Tragedy.
Browning, Robert. SORDELLO. Edward Moxon (1840). 500 Copies.
Browning, Robert. Two Poems. Chapman and Hall (1854). The Two Poems AreA Plea For Ragged Schools By Elizabeth Barrett Browning AndThe Twins By Robert Browning; 300 Copies.
Browning, Robert. Men and Women. Ticknor and Fields, Boston (1856). 2 Volumes; IncludingLove Among The Ruins,Fra Lippo Lippi,Any Wife To Any Husband AndAndrea Del Sarto..
Browning, Robert. Dramatis Personae. Chapman and Hall (1864). Comprised Of Eighteen Poems IncludesCaliban Upon Setebos, Which Examines The Nature Of Primitive Man, Drawing On Darwins On The Origin Of Species,Rabbi Ben Ezra,Mr. Sludge, The Medium.
Browning, Robert. La Saisiaz. Smith Elder and Co. (1878). The Two Poets Of Croisic.
Browning, Robert. Dramatic Idyls. Smith, Elder, and Co. (1880). Second Series; 2 Volumes.
Browning, Robert. Selections From the Poetical Works. Smith, Elder, and Co. (1880). 2 Volume; Two Volumes Are Entitled First Series And Second Series.
Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Smith, Elder and Company (1884). 2 Volumes; Volumes IncludingChilde Roland To The Dark Tower Came.
Browning, Robert. Dramatic Lyrics. Houghton Miffin, Boston, (1887). The Return Of The Druses; A Blot In The Scutcheon; Colombes Birthday; Dramatic Romances; A Souls Tragedy; Luria.
Browning, Robert. Parleyings With Certain People of Importance in Their Day. Smith, Elder (1887). To Wit, Bernard De Mandeville, Daniel Bartoli, Christopher Smart, George Bubb Dodington, Francis Furini, Gerard De Lairesse, And Charles Avison; Introduced By A Dialogue Between Apollo And The Fates; Concluded By Another Between John Fust And His Friends.
Browning, Robert. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. G. Routledge and Sons Ltd (1888). 35 Color Illustrations By Greenaway; Engraved And Printed In Colours By Edmund Evans.
Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Smith, Elder and Co. (1888). 17 Volumes; 250 Copies.
Browning, Robert. L'Homme a la Flute.. Hachette (1889). Interpretation De G. Girardin; Illustrations De Kate Greenaway.
Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Smith, Elder and Co (1889). 17 Volumes; Edited By Morse Peckham.
Browning, Robert. Asolando. Smith Elder and Co. (1890). Fancies And Facts.
Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works. Macmillan and Co. (1894). 17 Volumes; 250 Copies; Includes Pauline-Sordello, Men And Women, Pippa Passes, Dramatic Romances, Dramatic Lyrics, Dramatis Personae, The Ring And The Book, Fifine At The Fair, Aristophanes Apology, Asolando And Dramtic Idylls
Browning, Robert. The Complete Works. Fred DeFau (1898). Edited By Charlotte Porter And Helen A. Clarke; Camberwell Edition. (12 Volume Set In Wooden Box)
Browning, Robert. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Harry Quilter (1898). A Childs Story Set Forth In A Series Of Designs And Decorative Borders By Harry Quilter, Barrister-At-Law And Written In Ornamental Text By Mary His Wife; Printed By Lemercier; Illustrated Throughout By Harry Quilter; 100 Copies.
Browning, Robert. Dramatic Romances and Lyrics. Ballantyne Press (1899). Decorated With Woodcut Border And Initials By Charles Ricketts; 210 Copies.
Browning, Robert. The Complete Works. George D. Sproul (1899). Charlotte Porter And Helen A. Clarke (Editors); Twelve Volumes Complete; Total 750 Copies; 275 Copies Signed By The Editors
Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works of Robert Browning With Portraits. Smith, Elder and Co. (1899). 6 Volumes; With Introductions And Notes; With Portraits.
Browning, Robert. The Last Ride Together. G.P. Putnams Sons (1906). Illustrations By Frederick Simpson Coburn And Alta Fattey; Margaret Armstrong Binding Collection; 940 Copies; 100 Copies On Japanese Vellum.
Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works. Smith, Elder and Co. (1907). 17 Volumes; Edited By Augustine Birrell.
Browning, Robert. Men and Women. The Doves Press, Hammersmith (1908). 2 Volumes; Total 263 Copies And 13 Copies On Vellum.; Flourished (And Signed) By Edward Johnston.
Browning, Robert. Dramatis Personae. Doves Press, Hammersmith (1910). Dramatic Romances And Lyrics; Limited Edition, Total 265 Copies; Illustrated By Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale; Printed By T.J. Cobden-Sanderson.
Browning, Robert. The Pied Piper of Hamlin. Rand, McNally and Co.,Chicago and New York (1910). A Child'S Story; Van Dyck (Illustrator); Illustrated In Colour And Monochrome By Hope Dunlap.
Browning, Robert. Three Lyrics by Robert Browning. Gamble Hinged Music Co and New York (1910). Set To Music By Daniel Protheroe; Each Separately Dedicated:Ah, Love, But A Day To Mr. H. Evan Williams;I Send My Heart Up To Thee To Mr. Evert Pieters;The Years At The Spring To Mr. Daniel Beddoe.
Browning, Robert. The Works of Robert Browning. London Smith Elder and Co. (1917). Centenary Edition In 10 Volumes; Limited To 26 Copies On Vellum And 500 Copies On Antique Laid Paper; Illustrated With 10 Black-And-White Engraved Portraits Of Browning By Emery Walker After Various Artists As Frontispieces; With A Preface And Introductions To Each Work By F.G. Kenyon, C.D., D.Litt.
Browning, Robert. The Pied Piper Of Hamelin. George G. Harrap and Co. Ltd (1934). Illustrated By Arthur Rackham; Total 410 Copies; Only 400 Copies For Sale. Four Color Plates And Fourteen Drawings In Black And White (Including One Double-Page).
Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Oxford University Press (1944). Including His BelovedThe Pied Piper Of Hamelin,Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came, AndPorphyrias Lover
Browning, Robert. The Works of Robert Browning. Barnes and Noble, USA (1966). With Introductions By F. G. Kenyon; 10 Volumes.