Browning’s Last Duchess

Virginia Surtees

Entries for September 1869 from the diary of the Hon. Mrs George Howard (Rosalind, youngest daughter of the second Lord Stanley of Alderley) are published here for the first time, with the permission of the Hon. Simon Howard. They cover the visit of the 57-year-old Robert Browning to Naworth Castle, the Cumberland home of the George Howards. Browning had recently published his great poem The Ring and the Book, with its dedication to his dead wife. He was mentally tired, and uneasy over his son Pen’s performance at Oxford, but had agreed to go to Scotland in August with Sarianna his sister and Pen, and join forces at North Berwick with his friends the Storys. Before starting, he had told John Forster that Pen and the Storys had persuaded him to this course, but that he meant to stay only a month.

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