Dellah Harris Vail Papers on Robert Browning's Desk
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.