Letter to F. S.

William Holman Hunt

General Description

Date: 1848 December 20
Rhyme: couplets (with variations)
Meter: syllabic (nine syllables with variations)
Genre: epistle


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the South African National Gallery Manuscript text.

Scholarly Commentary


Not the least interesting element in this previously unrecorded verse letter by Holman Hunt is that it seems to establish the date—late 1848 or January 1849—when DGR first read Browning's Sordello , which has to be the book referred to in lines 4-17. DGR had been reading Browning's poetry at least since mid-1847, but as his October letter to Browning indicates, at that point he knew only Pauline and Paracelsus , and probably the Bells and Pomegranates (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 47.3 ). Browning published nothing between 1846 and 1850. DGR dates his sonnet “On Browning's Sordello” 1849, but as we see here, he was eager, even frantic, to get a copy in late 1848.

Like his verse letter of August 1848 to William Smith Williams, this letter to Frederick Stephens is composed in an amusing doggerel line of syllabic couplets (with variations). Another doggerel letter by Hunt survives, though it is badly water and fire damaged. Though lacking a named addressee, it was almost certaintly written to Stephens and dates from either September or October 1848.

Printing History

The manuscript poem has never been printed.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: hunt001.raw.xml