February 1852–March 1853, Letters 3001–3173
Volume 18 sees the Brownings continue their winter residence in Paris. In February, by means of Giuseppe Mazzini’s letter of introduction, they call on George Sand. EBB’s letters of this period are filled with detailed descriptions of this first meeting. In early July the Brownings travel to London. Shortly after their arrival they are confronted with newspaper accounts of RB, Sr.’s trial for breach of promise of marriage. Towards the end of summer, the Brownings visit John Ruskin at Denmark Hill and see his collection of Turners. Other literary figures with whom the poets socialize in London include James Russell Lowell, Coventry Patmore, and Samuel Rogers. The Brownings return to Florence in October and settle into their former quiet ways. Though RB finds it “dead & dull” after Paris and London, the change is conducive to writing. Early in 1853 he composes some of the poetry that will appear in Men and Women (1855). Meanwhile, EBB begins to work in earnest at her “poem-novel,” Aurora Leigh (1857), and she is also “deep in the corrections” of a third edition of her Poems (1853).