Letters locked away for more than 40 years have revealed how Victorian poet Robert Browning built up a close relationship with the niece of naturalist Charles Darwin, auction house Christie's said Tuesday.
Browning corresponded with Julia Wedgwood, a woman 21 years his junior, in 1863, a couple of years after the death of his wife, poet Elizabeth Barrett, a spokeswoman for the auction house said. More than 70 letters will be sold at auction in March.
Drawn together by mutual bereavement -- Wedgwood's brother had also recently died -- they discussed contemporary writers as well as Browning's wife and his own writing.
The relationship faltered after Julia wrote to him in 1865 saying that she could no longer see him, although the two remained sporadically in touch. "People were talking," said the Christie's spokeswoman. "A woman's re- putation was everything."