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Peter N. Heydon Collection of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning Furniture


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Heydon, Peter N.

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).

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.

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

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

Consult staff regarding access to the furniture items through the Ask Us! form. Due to preservation considerations, advance notice is required.

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

Collection title was updated by Amy C. Vo for DACS compliancy in 2023.

During 2023, restrictions on materials were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

No materials were separated during processing.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Faith Charlton
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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.

Collection Inventory

Elizabeth Barrett Browning Writing Desk, undated. 1 item.
Physical Description

1 item

Robert Browning Walnut Table, undated. 1 item.
Physical Description

1 item

David Lowery Oil Painting of the Browning's Drawing Room of the Casa Guidi Apartment, undated. 1 item.
Physical Description

1 item

Materials Viewable Online
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Tea Kettle, undated. 1 item.
Physical Description

1 item

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