The concept of dancing on a grave brings us back both to Marylebone, and to Camberwell, by way of one of my favourite stories about Robert and his loyalty to his wife and fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And if it’s not true, it should be.
Apparently Edward Fitzgerald, a critic and also a poet, famous for his translation of ‘The Rubayiat of Omar Kayyam’, once wrote disparagingly about Elizabeth’s poetry, including the rather tasteless remark that her death was something of a relief to him.
Browning, who read the article some years later after Fitzgerald’s own death, travelled to Suffolk for the sole purpose of dancing upon Fitzgerald’s grave.
But back to Marylebone and Camberwell: on Wednesday we visited the church in Marylebone where the couple were married. Elizabeth lived with her family Marylebone’s Wimpole Street prior to her marriage. The street takes its name from the Cambridgeshire seat of the Harley family, who owned land in the area. (And of course, also gave their name to Harley Street, but that’s for another time.)
Camberwell? Oh, yes, Rainbow Street, SE5 retains the name of the earlier Rainbow Lane that led to the manor house of the Dovedales, called Rainbow House. Part of the estate included Rainbow Cottage, which is where Browning was born. But why Rainbow I don’t know, so any light that can be shed on that would be gratefully received.
Oh, and Pentonville Road? From Henry Penton, a lawyer and landowner of the area; his descendant of the same name laid out the land for development in the 18th century.