Danny Karlin comments on Edith Story’s story

To his closest friends, after Elizabeth Barrett’s death, Browning repeatedly spoke of the present as a country of exile. He wrote to Isa Blagden in July 1867 of taking ‘the three loveliest women in London’ to hear the Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein (who ‘played divinely’):

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[1] Dearest Isa: Robert Browning’s Letters to Isabella Blagden, ed. E.C. McAleer (University of Texas Press, 1951), p.274. ‘Annette’ is Annette Bracken, a friend of Isa Blagden’s and the Brownings’ during their time in Florence.

[2] Ibid., p.267.

[3] Ibid., p.281.

[4] See, for example, William Irvine and Park Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet (New York, 1974), pp.449 and 574n.22. Irvine and Honan maintain the point despite William Whitla’s article, ‘Browning and the Ashburton Affair’ (Browning Society Notes II [July 1972], pp.12-41), which first suggested that Lady Ashburton, not Browning, was the proposer.

[5] Letters of Robert Browning, ed. T.L. Hood (Yale University Press, 1933), pp. 152-4.

[6] New Letters of Robert Browning, ed. W.C. DeVane and K.L. Knickerbocker (Yale University Press, 1950), pp.269-70.

[7] Letter of 28 December 1884; Letters, ed. Hood, p.234. Ironically enough, rumours circulating after Browning’s death in 1889 linked Pen Browning with Edith Story – who was then Countess Peruzzi, having married into the (recent) Italian nobility. See Maisie Ward, The Tragi-Comedy of Pen Browning (New York: Sheed – Ward and The Browning Institute, 1972), p.119.