Baylor University’s Armstrong Browning Library Celebrates Birthday of Poet Robert Browning with Browning Day

May 5, 2015
Robert BrowningRobert Browning photo courtesy of the New York Public Library Archives.

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WACO, Texas (May 5, 2015) – Baylor University’s Armstrong Browning Library will host Browning Day, a concert and lecture in celebration of the 203rd birthday of Victorian poet Robert Browning, at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 7, in the Hankamer Treasure Room of Armstrong Browning Library.

“This event is one of the most important programs held at the library – the celebration of Robert Browning’s birthday,” said Rita Patteson, director of Armstrong Browning Library. “Dr. A.J. Armstrong, founder of the collection, had great appreciation for Browning’s philosophy and for the beauty of his poetry. On Browning Day we pay special tribute to the focus of this collection – the largest in the world.”

The celebration will feature the premiere of “Mysterion,” a new composition for string quartet by Carlos Colón, the artist-in-residence of Armstrong Browning Library.

“This will be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the 203rd birthday of Robert Browning, one of Britain’s most important and influential poets, whose works, along with those of his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning, form the center of the world-renowned rare collections at Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library,” said Joshua King, Ph.D., the Margarett Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies and scholar-in-residence for Armstrong Browning Library.

King will accompany the concert with a lecture titled “Reforming Christ’s Body in Aurora Leigh.”

“‘Aurora Leigh’ (1856), is Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s masterpiece,” King said. “A nine-book novel in verse and a fictional autobiography, ‘Aurora Leigh’ is the first substantial poem to portray the growth of a young woman into a poet with a calling to reform society. Elizabeth’s masterwork has therefore rightly attracted attention for its defiance of Victorian gender norms.”

However, King said a fundamental dimension of “Aurora Leigh” deserves more consideration: how it encourages readers to imagine a reformed body of Christ, a Christian church and society revolutionized, in part, by poetry. By highlighting the social and biographical contexts of “Aurora Leigh,” comparing manuscripts and rare editions of the poem with its final version and analyzing details of its narrative and form, King will demonstrate how “Aurora Leigh” envisions a Christian community whose members transcend denominational and national boundaries as they pursue social justice, and whose prominent preachers include women poets.

After the concert and lecture, a reception will be held in the Martin Entrance Foyer.

A.J. Armstrong, Ph.D., former chair of Baylor’s English department and founder of Armstrong Browning Library, began the tradition of celebrating Browning Day sometime after 1912 as a means of honoring Browning, whose poetic works are said to have influenced Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot.

“This event will help members of the Baylor community better understand and value the continuing relevance of the Brownings, whose poems and lives have become inseparably intertwined with the legacy of our university and whose works continue to exert a powerful influence in world literature and culture,” King said.

The event is free and open to the public. Armstrong Browning Library is located at 710 Speight Ave.

For more information about Armstrong Browning Library, click here.

by Ashton Brown, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The Baylor University Libraries support excellence in teaching and learning, enhance research and discovery, and foster scholarship and success. Through its Central Libraries and special collections – Armstrong Browning Library, W.R. Poage Legislative Library and The Texas Collection – the Libraries serve as academic life centers that provide scholarly resources and technological innovation for the Baylor community and beyond.

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