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New Letters from Charles Brown to Joseph Severn, Edited by Grant Scott and Sue Brown

Abstract

This collection of recently rediscovered letters from Charles Brown to Joseph Severn runs from 1821 to Brown's death in 1842. Of the letters, thirty-five have never previously been published and nine have appeared only in part. They throw significant light on the life and character of Brown, particularly in the years 1827-29 and 1830-36 which are otherwise thinly documented, and on the closest and most enduring friendship in the Keats Circle. They also offer new information on the British literary and artistic community in Florence and Rome, the problematical Keats inheritance, and the development of Severn's artistic career and domestic life in Italy. Five related letters from Brown written between 1819 and 1838 are also printed in full for the first time.

We welcome comments and corrections.
Grant Scott <scott@muhlenberg.edu>
Sue Brown <sueb.arlsq@btopenworld.com>

About the Editors

Grant F. Scott is Professor of English at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Sculpted Word: Keats, Ekphrasis, and the Visual Arts (1994) and the editor of Selected Letters of John Keats (2002) and Joseph Severn: Letters and Memoirs (2005). He serves on the International Advisory Board of European Romantic Review and the Advisory Board of the Keats-Shelley Review.

Sue Brown is an independent scholar based in London and Malta. She read history at Oxford and Toronto Universities and has published a number of articles about Joseph Severn and his great patron, Gladstone. Her new biography of Severn, Joseph Severn, A Life: The Rewards of Friendship, was published in 2009 and draws on a mass of recently available archival material.

Acknowledgments

This edition of letters owes its existence to Lady Juliet Townsend, who graciously allowed us access to these manuscripts in her possession, generously gave permission to reproduce the letters and enthusiastically supported our plans for their publication. She was under no obligation to make these letters available in print (or online). It is a testimony to her farsightedness and her willingness to benefit the scholarly community that she is allowing us to publish them.

We also thank Ken Page for his warm welcome to Keats House and his helpfulness with the illustrations; Catherine Payling for investigating two of Severn's framed letters at the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, Rome; and Georgina Stephens for transcribing passages from these letters. Elizabeth Scudder and her staff at the London Metropolitan Archives dealt with our inquiries promptly and took trouble to identify the fine photograph of the bust of Charles Brown which we have reproduced. Sarah Houlbrooke at the Hamilton Kerr Institute at Cambridge University provided invaluable advice on painting materials in the early nineteenth century. And Ryan Hendrickson at the Gotlieb Center, Boston University, was diligent in tracking down Brown's letter to Trelawny and providing us with crystal clear photocopies.

For the revised edition we are indebted to Gillian Iles, a descendent of Charles Brown’s eldest brother, John Armitage Brown, for her knowledge of Brown family genealogy; to Marilyn and Conrad Lumsden Mavor, who kindly sent us their work on Mavor family history; and to Nora Crook, who with characteristic generosity offered invaluable comments on our 2007 edition based on her unrivalled knowledge of the period. It was on her persuasive recommendation that we re-dated the letter of 6, 7 June [1824].

As always, Kelly Cannon at Muhlenberg College provided valuable assistance in helping ferret out the identities of some of the more obscure people mentioned in these letters, and Kristin Brodt was relentlessly cheerful in enduring the trickle — then torrent — of inter-library loan requests. Muhlenberg College generously supported this endeavor with a Faculty Summer Research Grant.

No new edition of Brown's letters would be possible without the pioneering work of Jack Stillinger, whose Letters of Charles Armitage Brown holds up beautifully after forty years and remains a model of scholarship as well as an essential sourcebook for things Brown. Jack also supplied the kind of why-didn't-I-think-of-that advice for which he has become famous. As always, we are grateful for his support and ready encouragement.

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This edition has been designed and marked up in XHTML 1.0 Transitional and CSS by Lisa Marie Rhody. All 2010 revisions were marked up by David Rettenmaier

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Published @ RC

December 2007

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