Virginia Surtees

Virginia Surtees biography of Jane Welsh Carlyle will be reviewed by John Bayley.

Browning’s Last Duchess

Virginia Surtees, 9 October 1986

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.

Burnished and braced

Alethea Hayter, 12 July 1990

‘Relaxation is my bane, Lady Morpeth. All my habits and tastes lean that way and in consequence I am going to wage war upon them all. I dread a languid yellow old age, hot, perfumed and...

Read More

Wives, Queens, Distant Princesses

John Bayley, 23 October 1986

Suppose Mr and Mrs Coleridge to be young SDP yuppies today, who have asked us to dinner. What impression of each should we get? Of an amiable but very silly young man who talked too much and put...

Read More


Peter Campbell, 18 March 1982

You know a Pre-Raphaelite picture when you see one, but definitions come hard. The paintings are likely to be detailed, but Rossetti’s are soft and generalised; they often take subjects from...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences