Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Peter N. Heydon Collection of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning Materials
Manuscripts Division
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8 items


Includes a few artifacts of British poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) and Robert Browning (1812-1889).

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of several artifacts of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, including Elizabeth's English slant-topped mahogany writing desk (on which she is known to have written her epic poem Aurora Leigh), and Robert Browning's North Italian walnut table, both from Casa Guidi, their residence in Florence, Italy, from 1846 until Elizabeth's death. Also included is a framed oil painting by David Lowery (22" x 28"), which is a copy of George Mignaty's oil painting of the Drawing Room of the Casa Guidi apartment that Robert commissioned from Mignaty the day after Elizabeth's death. The Browning's silver-plated "traveling" tea kettle, made by Henry Wilkinson & Co., in Sheffield, England, is also included.

Collection Creator Biography:

Peter N. Heydon, Princeton Class of 1962, earned an MA (1963) and PhD (1970) at the University of Michigan where he then taught English Literature and Creative Writing between 1963 and 1986 on the faculties of both the English Department and Humanities Department. A collector of artifacts of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, he is the founding President of The Browning Institute, Inc., which acquired the Browning's Casa Guidi apartment in 1971; and for fifteen years as the Institute's President, oversaw the fifteen-room restoration of the apartment as a Museum and study center.

Heydon has authored a number of pieces on Robert Browning and his circle for Browning Institute Studies; and he was co-editor with Philip Kelly of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Letters to Mrs. David Ogilvy, 1849–1861: With Recollections by Mrs. Ogilvy (New York: Quadrangle Press, 1973).

Collection History


Gifts of Peter N. Heydon ('62) in 2013-2014 (AM 2014-57, AM 2014-101)

Custodial History:

Florence L. Barclay was the former owner of the desk and table.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No materials were separated during processing.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in June 2017. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in June 2017.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

This material is closed; consult staff for access.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Peter N. Heydon Collection of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning Materials; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184