Sunday, June 05, 2011


On June 29, 2011, the 150th anniversary of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's death on 29 June 1861, we shall gather together in Florence's 'English' Cemetery to celebrate her poetry and her use of her art against injustice, against slavery, and against the oppression of nations, of women, of children. At the same time it is the 150th anniversary of the Unity of Italy, of Italy's rebirth as a nation, formerly ground under the heels of Austria, Spain, France, and the Pope. EBB wrote to her friend Isa Blagden in a letter found by Thomas Adolphus Trollope of her 'passion for essential truth (as apprehended) and a necessity for speaking it out at all risks, inconvenient to personal peace'.
EBB died at Casa Guidi while mourning the 6 June 1861 death of Camillo Benso Cavour, the architect of Italy's Unity, and, Robert tells us, speaking of the red, white and green colours of the Italian and Hungarian flags. The portraits of both EBB and Cavour had been painted by Michele Gordigiani in his studio across the street from EBB's tomb, designed by Frederic Lord Leighton with the broken slave shackle on the harp of Exodus.
First at 10.00 a.m., there will be a laying of laurel wreaths at the tomb, then at 11.00 a.m. a gathering of women poets from across Italy will pay tribute to her.
Present will be members of the British Institute, the Browning Society, the Friends of Casa Guidi, and the Armstrong-Browning Library of Baylor University, Texas. All are welcome to this event celebrating Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her friends past, present and future, and her love of Italy which forged a golden ring, an 'Aureo Anello' between Italy and the English-speaking world.
It was actually on 1 July 2011 that she was buried here, Robert, their son Pen, Isa Blagden, the Storys, the Powers, the Trollopes, Kate Field and Robert Lytton (the poet Owen Meredith who became Lord Lytton, Viceroy of India and who wrote Lucile about Isa, while Isa wrote Agnes Tremorne about him), being present. They forgot to send a carriage for Walter Savage Landor. The Anglican funeral service she did not want (she had Pen baptized in the Swiss church which still owns the so-called 'English' Cemetery) was described as being very badly done. Lord Leighton then designed the tomb but it was much altered by the Italian sculptor Francesco Giovanozzi to Leighton's fury,
We shall share Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Casa Guidi Windows in English and Italian, for I found on the Web in a Roman bookshop an 1851 translation into Italian which we have now republished it with facing page, English and Italian, in the same way we publish her Sonnets from the Portuguese, William Morris type, handbound with our marbled paper.
If you wish to donate to the Aureo Anello Association for the restoration of the 'English' Cemetery and its gardening you can do so by a cheque made out to 'Aureo Anello' and posted to 'English' Cemetery, Piazzale Donatello 38, 50132 Florence, Italy; or through the PayPal 'Donate' button below, which can also be used for the CDs, for the hand-bound limited edition books or for the sculptures of Elizabeth and Robert's 'Clasped Hands' or tondos with their portraits (Amalia Ciardi Duprè's sculpture can also be found at, or some or all of these.

Julia Bolton Holloway
Custodian, 'English' Cemetery
President, Aureo Anello