Robert Browning: The Ring and the Book

(1095 words)
  • Adam Roberts (Royal Holloway, University of London)

In a street-market in Florence, June 1860, Browning came across a collection of legal papers relating to the trial of a Roman nobleman in 1698 for the murder of his wife and in-laws. In 1864 Browning began working on an ambitious attempt to turn this factual material into a blank-verse epic poem. It was eventually published in four monthly instalments between November 1868 and February 1869.

Each of the twelve books of this epic construction is a dramatic monologue in which a different speaker gives his or her perspective on the events at the heart. The first book, titled “The Ring and the Book” is spoken by somebody very like Browning, who summarises the situation; an embittered minor aristocrat Guido Franceschini …

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Roberts, Adam. "The Ring and the Book". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 March 2001
[, accessed 27 May 2015.]