Saturday, February 11, 2017

President of the Browning Society of Philadelphia


Formed in 1887 by the New Century Club, the Browning Society of Philadelphia was "devoted to the study of pure literature, and not exclusively to the work of Robert Browning." It would grow to become "the largest literary organization in the world, having a membership of more than one thousand." (The Literary World, 9 Jan 1897)

Election invitation, 1895


Mrs. Coates was elected president of the Society from 1895 to 1903, and again from 1907 to 1908. Preceding Mrs. Coates' election in 1895, Miss Helen Bell was acting president of the Society (first elected in 1891). Upon the death of Miss Bell on 11 February 1895, Mrs. Coates would pen the following (as rendered in Woman's Progress, April 1895):


Death wished to borrow something of thy grace;
     And now that thou art lying 'neath the snow,
The grave that holds thee seems a favored place,
     Where one might willing go.
But life is not so rich in things divine,
That it would part with such a soul as thine!
A voice of comfort breathes from sorrowing Earth
     If winter is the nursery of flowers,
If purity and loveliness have worth
     Beyond this world of ours,
If there is pity for the tears we shed,
If any truly live—thou art not dead!
Published as "Helen Bell. February 11, 1895" in Woman's Progress (April 1895) and as "Winter the Nursery for Spring Flowers" in Meehan's Monthly (January 1896).

Helen Bell


A dedicatory piece on Helen Bell can be found in the April 1895 issue of Jane Campbell's Woman's Progress.

The Society was disbanded around 1922, with meetings ending in 1925.

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