Main content

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)

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

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 copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

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
  1. View digital content
Tea Kettle, undated. 1 item.
Physical Description

1 item

Print, Suggest