March 1853–November 1853, Letters 3174–3290
Volume 19 finds EBB completing corrections for the third edition of her Poems (1853). Although ready for publication as early as May, it is not released until October. In April RB’s Colombe’s Birthday is staged at the Haymarket Theatre in London with Helena Faucit Martin in the title role. The play receives some good notices but closes after seven performances. With the onset of the summer heat in Florence, the poets escape to the relative coolness of Bagni di Lucca, where they become re-acquainted with the William Wetmore Storys. In September, the Brownings’ new young friend, Robert Bulwer Lytton, comes to stay with them for two weeks. They return to Florence in October and begin preparations for a trip to Rome. EBB’s letters in this volume are filled with her growing interest in spiritualism, and, in spite of her husband’s scepticism, the Brownings host two séances at Casa Guidi. Meanwhile, they continue to write poetry: RB works on Men and Women (1855) and EBB on Aurora Leigh (1857). As volume 19 closes, the poets have left Florence and are nearing Rome.