Browning and Jane Carlyle

  • Alexandra Orr


He always thought her a hard and unlovable woman, and I believe little liking was lost between them. He told a comical story of how he had once, unintentionally but rather stupidly, annoyed her. She had asked him, as he was standing by her tea-table, to put the kettle back on the fire. He took it out of her hands, but, preoccupied by the conversation he was carrying on, deposited it on the hearth-rug.1 It was some time before he could be made to see that this was wrong; and he believed Mrs Carlyle never ceased to think that he had a mischievous motive for doing it.


  1. 1.
    In Pen Browning’s version of the story he had taken up the kettle of his own (absent-minded) accord and ‘deposited’ it when ‘Mrs Carlyle cried shrilly “Put that down!”’ (William Lyon Phelps, ‘A Talk with Barrett Browning’, The Century Magazine, n.s. 63 (1913), p. 420).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Alexandra Orr

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