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Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806 - 1861

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806 - 1861

Elizabeth Barrett was born near Durham to a wealthy merchant family that had made its fortunes in slave trade. For a girl of her time she was unusually educated, learning Greek and Latin. She was a good reader and an early writer. Reading and writing were also the only diversions of her life. Her tyrannical father kept her confined at Hope End, the family's castle. The official excuse for Elizabeth seclusion was her infirmity (she was a semi-invalid).

By the age of thirty-nine Elizabeth was a well-known poetess. As such she sometimes received visits from man of letters and younger writers. One of these was Robert Browning, who soon declared his love for her. Their relation was mainly epistolary for a year and a half, after which they secretly married and eloped to Italy.

The following year she published Sonnets from the Portuguese, inspired by her love for Browning.

Life in Italy brought to Elizabeth both restored health and renewed poetical inspiration. She settled in Florence with her husband at Casa Guidi, recalled in Casa Guidi Windows, 1851, the most famous of her poems inspired by Italian Risorgimento. She died in 1861 and was buried in the English cemetery.

Moral and social concern.

Her literary interests were always characterized by ethical and social concerns, as the exploitation of children in coalmines and factories (The Cry of the Children). Her best work in this field is now considered Aurora Leigh, concerning wider questions as women's education and their role in society.


● If Thou Must Love Me, Let It Be for Naught.


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