Browning, Elizabeth Barrett


Browning, Elizabeth Barrett
orig. Elizabeth Barrett

born March 6, 1806, near Durham, Durham, Eng.
died June 29, 1861, Florence

British poet.

Though she was an invalid who was afraid to meet strangers, her poetry became well known in literary circles with the publication of volumes of verse in 1838 and 1844. She met Robert Browning in 1845 and, after a courtship kept secret from her despotic father, they married and settled in Florence. Her reputation rests chiefly on the love poems written during their courtship, Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850). Her most ambitious work, the blank-verse novel Aurora Leigh (1857), was a huge popular success.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, detail of an oil painting by Michele Gordigiani, 1858; in the National ...

Courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London

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▪ British poet
née  Barrett 
born March 6, 1806, near Durham, Durham, England
died June 29, 1861, Florence, Italy
 English poet whose reputation rests chiefly upon her love poems, Sonnets from the Portuguese and Aurora Leigh, now considered an early feminist text. Her husband was Robert Browning (Browning, Robert).

      Elizabeth was the eldest child of Edward Barrett Moulton (later Edward Moulton Barrett). Most of her girlhood was spent at a country house within sight of the Malvern Hills, in Worcestershire, where she was extraordinarily happy. At the age of 15, however, she fell seriously ill, probably as the result of a spinal injury, and her health was permanently affected. In 1832 the family moved to Sidmouth, Devon, and in 1836 they moved to London, where, in 1838, they took up residence at 50 Wimpole Street.

      In London she contributed to several periodicals, and her first collection, The Seraphim and Other Poems, appeared in 1838. For reasons of health, she spent the next three years in Torquay, Devon, but after the death by drowning of her brother, Edward, she developed an almost morbid terror of meeting anyone apart from a small circle of intimates.

      Her name, however, was well known in literary circles, and in 1844 her second volume of poetry, Poems, by E. Barrett Barrett, was enthusiastically received. In January 1845 she received from the poet Robert Browning (Browning, Robert) a telegram: “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett. I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart—and I love you too.” In early summer the two met. Their courtship (whose daily progress is recorded in their letters) was kept a close secret from Elizabeth's despotic father, of whom she stood in some fear. Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850) records her reluctance to marry, but their wedding had taken place on September 12, 1846. Her father knew nothing of it, and Elizabeth continued to live at home for a week.

      The Brownings then left for Pisa. (When Barrett died in 1856, Elizabeth was still unforgiven.) While in Pisa she wrote The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point (Boston, 1848; London, 1849), a protest against slavery in the United States. The couple then settled in Florence, where their only child, Robert Wiedemann Barrett, was born in 1849. In 1851 and in 1855 the couple visited London; during the second visit, Elizabeth completed her most ambitious work, Aurora Leigh (1857), a long blank-verse poem telling the complicated and melodramatic love story of a young girl and a misguided philanthropist. This work did not impress most critics, though it was a huge popular success.

      During the last years of her life, Mrs. Browning developed an interest in spiritualism and the occult, but her energy and attention were chiefly taken up by an obsession, to a degree that alarmed her closest friends, with Italian politics. Casa Guidi Windows (1851) had been a deliberate attempt to win sympathy for the Florentines, and she continued to believe in the integrity of Napoleon III. In Poems Before Congress (1860), the poem "A Curse for a Nation" was mistaken for a denunciation of England, whereas it was aimed at U.S. slavery.

      In the summer of 1861 Mrs. Browning suffered a severe chill and died.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Browning, Elizabeth Barrett — ► (1806 61) Poetisa británica, autora de delicados versos (Sonetos del portugués, 1847). Entre sus otras obras destaca Cosa Guidi windows (1851). * * * orig. Elizabeth Barrett (6 mar. 1806, cerca de Durham, Inglaterra–29 jun. 1861, Florencia,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Browning,Elizabeth Barrett — Brown·ing (brouʹnĭng), Elizabeth Barrett. 1806 1861. British poet. Overcoming ill health and the jealous objections of her tyrannical father, she eloped to Italy with Robert Browning and married him in 1846. Her greatest work, Sonnets from the… …   Universalium

  • Browning, Elizabeth Barrett — (1806 1861)    Poetess, was the dau. of Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett, who assumed the last name on succeeding to the estates of his grandfather in Jamaica. She was b. at Coxhoe Hall, Durham, but spent her youth at Hope End, near Great Malvern.… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • BROWNING, ELIZABETH BARRETT —    , née BARRETT    poetess, born at Carlton Hall, Durham; a woman of great natural abilities, which developed early; suffered from injury to her spine; went to Torquay for her health; witnessed the death by drowning of a brother, that gave her a …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Browning, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert — (1806 1889)    • Elizabeth Barrett, 1806 1861    The daughter of a despotic father who owed his wealth to plantations in Jamaica, Elizabeth spent her childhood in Worcestershire, but illness struck when she was fifteen and left her an invalid.… …   British and Irish poets

  • Elizabeth Barrett — Browning Pour les articles homonymes, voir Barrett et Browning. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Elizabeth Barrett Br …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Elizabeth Barrett Browning Elizabeth Barrett Browning (6 de marzo de 1806 – 29 de junio de 1861) era un miembro de la familia Barrett y …   Wikipedia Español

  • Elizabeth Barrett-Browning — Grab auf dem Cimitero degli Inglesi in Florenz Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Moulton) (* 6. März 1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Barrett et Browning. Elizabeth Barrett Browning …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning — noun English poet best remembered for love sonnets written to her husband Robert Browning (1806 1861) • Syn: ↑Browning • Instance Hypernyms: ↑poet * * * Elizabeth Barrett Browning [Elizabeth Barrett Browning] …   Useful english dictionary