The Ring and the Book
  • Publication Date: August 27, 2001
  • ISBN: 9781551113722 / 1551113724
  • 824 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Ring and the Book

  • Publication Date: August 27, 2001
  • ISBN: 9781551113722 / 1551113724
  • 824 pages; 5½" x 8½"

In June, 1860, Browning purchased an “old yellow book” from a bookstall in Florence. The book contained legal briefs, pamphlets, and letters relating to a case that had been tried in 1698 involving a child bride, a disguised priest, a triple murder, four hangings and the beheading of a nobleman. Browning resolved to use it as the source for a poem. The result, The Ring and the Book, is certainly one of the most important long poems of the Victorian era and is arguably Browning’s greatest work.

Basing their edition on the 1888–89 version of the poem, Altick and Collins include the last corrections Browning intended before his death. In addition to a substantial introduction, this Broadview Literary Texts edition also includes selections from Browning’s correspondence, and contemporary reviews and reactions to the work.


“To the established virtues of Altick’s 1971 edition—meticulous scholarship, judicious annotation, informative introduction and appendices—Altick and Collins have now made welcome improvements: an open and reader-friendly look with notes at the bottom of the page where one wants them; a score of reviews and letters from contemporaries hailing (sometimes assailing) the enormity of Browning’s genius; most important, a copytext based on the 1888-89 edition and incorporating the poet’s authoritative corrections. This should become at once the edition of choice for classroom or armchair use, and may in time incite a Ring and the Book revival.” — Herbert Tucker, University of Virginia

“Altick and Collins offer us the most reader-friendly text of Browning’s great work along with pithy, concise notes and splendidly compact, lucid background to the text and its creation.” — John Maynard, New York University

Textual Preface


  • Book I
    Book II
    Book III
    Book IV
    Book V
    Book VI
    Book VII
    Book VIII
    Book IX
    Book X
    Book XI
    Book XII

Appendix A: General Notes
Appendix B: Initial Responses to the Poem
Appendix C: Textual Notes and Commentary
Select Bibliography

Thomas J. Collins is (along with Vivienne J. Rundle) co-editor of the Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory. He is also the co-editor (with John Pettigrew) of Browning: The Poems, 2 vols. (Penguin), and (with R.J. Shroyer) of A Concordance to the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning, 7 vols. (AMS Press).

Richard D. Altick is Regents’ Professor of English, Emeritus, at Ohio State University. He has written and edited many books on the Victorian era, including the Penguin edition (now out of print) of
The Ring and the Book.