Matthew Arnold

“Dear Miss Nellie, Though you are determined to go to Cambridge, I hope you will accept this volume of poems by a purely Oxford poet. I am sure you know Matthew Arnold already but still I have marked just a few of the things I like best in the collection, in the hope that we may agree about them. ‘Sohrab and Rustom’ is a wonderfully stately epic, full of the spirit of Homer, and ‘Thyrsis’ and ‘The Scholar Gypsy’ are exquisite idylls, as artistic as ‘Lycidas’ or ‘Adonais’: but indeed I think all is good in it.” From a letter to Helena Sickhert of 2 October 1879, The Complete Letters, 83.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“I send you a book and a letter. . . . It is Aurora Leigh, which I think you said you had not read. It is one of those books that, written straight from the heart — and from such a large heart, too — never weary one: because they are sincere. We tire of art but not of nature after all our aesthetic training. I look upon it as much the greatest work in our literature.

“I rank it with Hamlet and In Memoriam . . . The only fault is that she overstrains her metaphors until they snap, and although one does not like polished emotion, still she is inartistically rugged at times. As she says herself, she shows the mallet in carving cherry stones.” From a letter to William Ward of 26 August 1876, The Complete Letters, 26.

“I am so glad you like Aurora Leigh. I think it ‘intense’ in every way.” From a letter to William Ward postmarked 28 August 1876, The Complete Letters, 31.

Robert Browning

“Only Browning can make action and psychology one.” From a letter to H. C. Marillier of 8 November 1885, The Complete Letters, 267.


Wilde, Oscar. The Complete Letters. Ed. Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis. London: Fourth Estate, 2000.

Literary Relations

Last modified 17 March 2012