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.