There had not been a scholarly edition of the works of the influential Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (EBB) in over a century, the last having been published in 1900. A five-volume print edition of EBB’s works was published in 2010, with Sandra Donaldson as the general editor. The new edition provides readers accurate and accessible texts with annotations on context, composition, and publication, creating a reliable foundation for more complete analysis and interpretation of EBB’s works and of Victorian Britain.
As a supplement to that work, this web-based selection contains versions of works that are difficult to represent in print, such as those from the volumes of Poems that were heavily revised. Presenting all versions of works that EBB revised substantially addresses the problem of the linear aspect of print. Some poems were revised numerous times, even in printed copies of her works. Presentation on facing pages is successful for items like her two published translations of Æschylus’s Prometheus Bound, where line numbers align fairly well and there are only two versions. Foot-of-the-page variants work when there are few revisions. The ability to manipulate texts offered by TEI-compliant presentation allows us, for example, to instantiate the versions of poems revised several times. For example, “An Island” did not carry that title when it was first published, in 1837; the revision of title from “The Island” is not the only change to the poem but an important albeit a small one. Viewed in this way it becomes apparent that it isn’t really a different poem, as is sometimes said about heavily revised work, but that it was worked and reworked in ways that can be seen and described specifically. Too, instantiating extant versions in a row then examining her correspondence at points of the generation and publication of these versions can reveal aspects of the cultural and historical changes around her and in her own thinking, whether stated explicitly in reference to the poem or only mentioned or discussed at the time she was working on it.
Where a work was revised on a larger scale -- when lines and stanzas were shifted and the concept of the poem was rethought -- the linear mode of the book is less successful, especially for direct comparisons and recognition of patterns of revision. The mode employed here, of presenting versions in columns where clicking on individual lines brings them up in the other versions no matter where they appear, is useful though not ideal. For that reason, when the structure has been revised, a note precedes the poem and cites the stanzas or sections that were moved so that readers can locate them.
Plans for future developmends include presenting works that remain unpublished mainly because of the difficulty of interpreting EBB’s handwriting and directions. These are presented provisionally in volume Five of the WEBB (the print edition); images of the manuscript pages will be presented here with the hope that readings will become more refined as other scholars offer input into the interpretation of the manuscript.
These materials are being encoded in XML in compliance with TEI guidelines (P4) under the direction of the Editorial Consultant, Crystal Alberts. In order to ensure accuracy and consistency of the electronic edition, the methods of encoding and choice of tags have been explicitly documented within the files and will be incorporated into the editing guidelines.
Images used on this site will be converted from camera raw to TIFF files and the master archived. All images will conform to the preservation standard of 600 dpi. Copies of the original TIFF files will be modified for web delivery and assigned Dublin Core metadata. Our files conform to the open standards set by TEI and the best practices set by the Digital Library Federation (DLF), as well as the National Information Standards Organization (NISO).
To ensure the persistence and preservation of this project, it will be stored on the University of North Dakota server. Although these files are currently being delivered in XHTML, our intention is to deliver them in fully searchable XML in the future.