February 1861–November 1861, Letters 4838–4993
Volume 29 begins with the Brownings in their winter residence at Rome. EBB stays indoors and will not leave their apartment until April and then only to take “some three or four little drives,” RB later tells his sister, Sarianna. The Independent (New York) publishes three more poems by EBB: “Parting Lovers” (21 March), “Mother and Poet” (2 May), and “Only a Curl” (16 May). On June 1st, the Brownings leave Rome for Florence, arriving at Casa Guidi on the 5th. The following day news comes that Camillo di Cavour, the Italian prime minister, is dead. It is a blow to EBB and the final straw for her health. Two weeks later she develops a sore throat and spends two sleepless nights coughing. On the morning of June 29th, she dies in her husband’s arms. She is buried in the Protestant Cemetery, just outside the walls of Florence. A devastated RB spends the next month putting their affairs in order. He, Pen, and Isa Blagden depart Florence on August 1st. They travel to Paris and stay with RB’s father and sister, Isa moving on to England. The Brownings take a holiday on the northern coast of Brittany, where RB finds solace in opening his heart on long walks with Sarianna. Towards the end of September, all return to Paris, widower and son stopping briefly before crossing the channel to England. They reside for a time with Arabella Moulton-Barrett, then take rooms nearby at 1 Chichester Road. As volume 29 closes, RB worries about Pen’s education, while editing EBB’s Last Poems (1862).