London: Chapman and Hall, 1850. Second edition. Preferred edition for the inclusion of Browning's lovely "Sonnets from the Portugese" (not in the first edition). A Near Fine copy in the original publisher's cloth, spines a bit faded, slight nick at the top of the front joint on volume two. Front hinge of volume one just starting, front hinge of volume two closed, otherwise a clean, bright set.
Praised by journalist Harriet Martineau as an "immense advance" in original poetry, Browning's two volume set was immensely popular immediately following its release. Browning increased her commitment to using literature to produce social change, composing works for this collection that were "sentimental yet politically-charged and heaving with genuine empathy" (British Library). Drawing attention to social inequity that resulted from English economic policy in pieces like "The Cry of the Children," her poem "The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's point" further addressed the real life tragedies experienced by black women forced into the American slave trade. Other poems, including those in praise of George Sand, considered the challenges women writers confronted within a patriarchal culture. In this collection, Browning "anticipated Virginia Woolf's theory of the androgynous mind; the notion that the creative mind flourishes when a balance between the female/feminine and male/masculine is achieved. It entails being unconscious of, and thereby unrestrained by, biological sex" (British Library). Near Fine (Item #2009)