ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO
In 2012 we were proud to honor and celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Robert Browning (May 7, 1812). Now, it's on to a NEW YEAR and new events to celebrate our literary heritage. The Browning Society features talks and performances on literature of the Romantics, Victorians and every thing since!
"WE HAVE BEEN TOLD that adventurers coming West at the time of the Gold Rush carried two books in their knapsacks, the Bible and a volume of Robert Browning's poems."
BEGUN BY A GROUP of women at the turn of the 20th century, the San Francisco Browning Society continues to meet for intellectual and literary stimulation.
THE THOUGHT WHICH SEEMS to be uppermost in the minds of those who inquire about this Society and its longevity is why and how this Browning Society, as distinguished from others, continues to meet after a century and a decade. For answer, we must return to the year 1900 and observe two ladies sitting or strolling in Golden Gate Park, a small volume in hand from which they take turns reading. The volume is a collection of the poems by Robert Browning.
CERTAINLY THESE LADIES were not the first discoverers of Mr. Browning's verse. We have been told that adventurers coming West at the time of the Gold Rush carried two books in their knapsacks, the Bible and a volume of Robert Browning's poems. Excerpts of these poems are to be found in the two-page newspapers of the period published in Calaveras County, Placer County, and the Klondike. Prior to the great earthquake of 1906, our artist member, Mrs. Hugh Brown, moving to Tonopah, Nevada as a bride, had her precious library hauled by mule train where it became a lending library for the miners and their wives. Of course, she too kept Browning's poems close to heart.
BUT LET US GO STILL FURTHER BACK to the year 1881 when a Browning Society was first formed in London by a Dr. Fournivale, who later emigrated to the United States. Dr. Fournivale carried his enthusiasm for Robert Browning to his new homeland and founded the first United States Browning Society in Boston in 1885. (Another Browning Society was already active, by the way, in Philadelphia, founded in 1882.)
MRS. B.F. NORRIS and MRS. J.M. GOEWAY, our two Golden Gate Park poetry afficionados, began meeting in the home of Mrs. Norris to read and reflect on poetry, in particular, the rich and profound poems of Browning. On February 2, 1902, the formed a temporary organization on California Street, electing Mrs. George Oulton as their President, Miss Eleanor Pratt as secretary pro tem, and a committe of five designees to organize a Robert Browning Society. "Make My Works Thy Friends" was adopted as the Society's motto.
* Host monthly meetings featuring a speaker who highlights the literature, poets, and social world of the late Victorians. See our Events page for upcoming (and past) programs.
* Sponsor an annual Poetry Contest featuring San Francisco State University Creative Writing students.
Membership in the Society is open to anyone with an interest in Victorian Literature and Culture and in Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in particular.
For membership, send a check for $25, made out to the San Francisco Browning Society, to our Treasurer, Gioia C. Taber:
1400 Geary Blvd., Apt. 503
San Francisco, CA 94109-6555
You do not have to be a member to attend Society presentations.
Remember a friend or honor a loved one by sending a contribution to the Sloss-Locke Tribute Fund. These funds help the Society maintain attention to the works of the Brownings and help our organization.
JOIN THE SAN FRANCISCO BROWNING SOCIETY ON FACEBOOK!
- Robert Browning
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven--
All's right with the world!