New York: George D. Sproul, 1899 - 1901. First edition. Autograph edition, set number 10 of 275 copies, signed by the publisher and the editors in the first volume of each set. Six volume set of Elizabeth's works with the twelve volume set of Robert's works, all uniformly bound in full crushed brown morocco, top edges gilt, elaborate gilt turn-ins and green morocco doublures, watered silk endpapers. A very handsome set showing only very minor wear at the crowns of a few volumes. All volumes generally faded on the spines. Frontispieces and several additional illustrated plates inserted throughout, in two states with captioned tissue guards. With the surprising provenance of being from Sylvester Stallone's library, with a small printed library plate laid into the first book of each set.
Two of the most prominent and respected poets of the Victorian Era, Robert and Elizabeth Browning were also involved in its perhaps most famous literary love affair. Elizabeth was the more well-known poet when they began their courtship – she had just released an extremely popular and critically acclaimed two volume collection of poems in 1844, which included A Drama of Exile. Indeed, Elizabeth’s influence as a poet was wide ranging – she was popular in America as well – and her work and life would be a source of inspiration for such figures as Poe and Dickinson. Robert – a comparatively minor poet who had achieved some renown a decade before -- but then had fallen out of literary esteem, had read and cherished Elizabeth’s work and began to write to her. Elizabeth’s cousin soon introduced them and they courted in secret – Elizabeth’s father would later disown her -- eventually marrying and moving to Italy, where they would live until Elizabeth’s death.
Some of Elizabeth’s most famous work would be influenced and encouraged by Robert, including her collection of love poems, Sonnets from the Portuguese. (Elizabeth had been hesitant to release them, but Robert insisted she do so.) Robert too would complete what many critics consider his best work during their marriage, Men and Women, published in 1855. "From the Portuguese they may be: but their life and earnestness must prove Mrs. Browning either to be the most perfect of all known translators, or to have quickened with her own spirit the framework of another's thought, and then modestly declined the honour which was really her own." (Contemporary Review of Elizabeth’s revised Poems, in Fraser’s Magazine) Near Fine (Item #1811)