London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1889. Item #04168
"How do I Love Thee? Let me Count the Ways"
Elizabeth Barrett Browning Handsomely Bound by Root & Son
BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett. The Poetical Works. In Six Volumes. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1889-90.
Hand-Made Paper Edition. Limited to one hundred and twenty-five copies.
Six octavo volumes (8 7/8 x 5 7/8 inches; 226 x 149 mm.). xx, 306; [ii], vi, 287, [1, blank]; viii, 293, [1, blank]; [ii], vi, 294; [ii], vi, 290; [ii], 393, [1, list of illustrations] pp. Nine engraved plates mounted on India Paper including five portraits and four views (including Coxhoe Hall, the Birthplace of Mrs. Browning). Additionally there is an inserted plate "Mays Love" Facsimile of Mrs. Browning's Handwriting (volume four, facing page 279).
Handsomely bound ca. 1900 by Root & Son (stamp-signed on verso of front end-paper). Three-quarter olive green morocco over green marbled boards, decoratively ruled in gilt. Spine with five raised bands, elaborately decorated in gilt with an elaborate floral design and lettered in gilt in compartments. Matching marbles end-papers, top edge gilt, others uncut. The olive green has uniformly and attractively faded to a wonderful autumnal shade. A fine and very appealing set.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era, popular in Britain and the United States during her lifetime. In the 1830s Elizabeth was introduced to literary society through her cousin, John Kenyon. Her first adult collection of poems was published in 1838 and she wrote prolifically between 1841 and 1844, producing poetry, translation and prose. She campaigned for the abolition of slavery and her work helped influence reform in the child labor legislation. Her prolific output made her a rival to Tennyson as a candidate for poet laureate on the death of Wordsworth. Elizabeth's volume Poems (1844) brought her great success, attracting the admiration of the writer Robert Browning. Their correspondence, courtship and marriage were carried out in secret, for fear of her father's disapproval. Following the wedding she was indeed disinherited by her father. The couple moved to Italy in 1846, where she would live for the rest of her life. They had one son, Robert Barrett Browning, whom they called Pen. She died in Florence in 1861. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband shortly after her death. Elizabeth's work had a major influence on prominent writers of the day, including the American poets Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson. She is remembered for such poems as "How Do I Love Thee?" (Sonnet 43, 1845) and Aurora Leigh (1856).
The London bindery of W. Root & Son consistently turned-out excellent work, both on fine bindings as here, and on trade bindings and sets. Packer lists the firm in business in Red Lion Square in 1899-1901, and the December 1942 issue of The Rotarian notes with regret that W. Root had been bombed out (uprooted?) of their premises on Paternaster Row during the 1941 Blitz.