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Dellah Harris Vail Papers on Robert Browning's Desk, 1861-1934
1 box (0.25 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 13

Abstract:
Woman who owned Robert Browning's writing desk and bequeathed it to Smith College in memory of her daughter. Includes photographs of the desk, Vail's manuscript notes and printed writings, a note in Robert Browning's autograph, memorabilia, and flowers collected from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's grave in Florence and the Browning residence in Venice from a trip to Europe in 1924.
Mortimer Rare Book Room
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Derrick T. Vail was born on October 2, 1864 in Franklin, Ohio. After graduating from Miami Medical College in 1890, he practiced ophthalmology in Cincinnati, Ohio. His discovery of Tularemia-Conjunctivitis in man with Dr. William B. Wherry was his major contribution to medicine.

Dr. Vail married Dellah Harris of Franklin, Ohio, on April 14, 1891. The couple lived at 2219 Park Avenue, Walnut Hills, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Their daughter Charlotte Farrell Vail attended Smith College with the Class of 1923. She died in Northampton, Massachusetts, on March 11, 1923. Dr. Vail died on October 29, 1930. Mrs. Vail died on December 7, 1935. They were survived by their daughter Rosalind Vail Dwight of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Dellah Harris Vail Papers contain Vail's correspondence with scholars and dealers about Robert Browning's writing desk. The papers span the dates 1861 to 1934 and also include photographs of the desk, as well as Vail's manuscript notes and printed writings.

Dr. Derrick T. Vail purchased Robert Browning's writing desk from E. P. Dutton & Company on February 20, 1915 for his wife. Mrs. Vail bequeathed the desk to Smith College in memory of her daughter, Charlotte Farrell Vail, Class of 1923, who died at Smith College on March 11, 1923. When the College received the desk after Mrs. Vail's death on December 7, 1935, her papers and a note in Robert Browning's autograph were stored inside.

While the bulk of Mrs. Vail's papers are about the desk, there are some printed articles about Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Folder 6). Memorabilia from meetings of the Browning Circle of the Cincinnati Woman's Club include a poem by Calvin Dill Wilson entitled "The Writing of Robert Browning" (Folder 5). Mrs. Vail also collected flowers from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's grave in Florence and the Browning residence in Venice during her trip to Europe in 1924 (Folder 5). These papers are arranged in six series.

These papers are arranged in six series.


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Terms of Access and Use

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Dellah Harris Vail Papers On Robert Browning's Desk, Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College.

History of the Collection


Additional Information
Contact Information
Mortimer Rare Book Room
William Allan Neilson Library
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2906
Fax: (413) 585-2904

Email: mrbr@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/rarebook

Language
English.