Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Poet, Author

1806 – 1861

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Who was Elizabeth Barrett Browning?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both Britain and the United States during her lifetime.

Born in County Durham, the eldest of 12 children, Browning was educated at home. She wrote poetry from around the age of six and this was compiled by her mother, comprising what is now one of the largest collections extant of juvenilia by any English writer. At 15 Browning became ill, suffering from intense head and spinal pain for the rest of her life, rendering her frail. She took laudanum for the pain, which may have led to a lifelong addiction and contributed to her weak health.

In the 1830s Barrett's cousin John Kenyon introduced her to prominent literary figures of the day such as William Wordsworth, Mary Russell Mitford, Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Thomas Carlyle. Browning's first adult collection The Seraphim and Other Poems was published in 1838. During this time she contracted a disease, possibly tuberculosis, which weakened her further. Living at Wimpole Street, in London, Browning wrote prolifically between 1841 and 1844, producing poetry, translation and prose.

Famous Quotes:

  • God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers and thrust the thing we have prayed for in our face, like a gauntlet with a gift in it.
  • This race is never grateful: from the first, One fills their cup at supper with pure wine, Which back they give at cross-time on a sponge, In bitter vinegar.
  • How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.
  • The man, most man, works best for men: and, if most man indeed, he gets his manhood plainest from his soul.
  • What monster have we here? A great Deed at this hour of day? A great just deed -- and not for pay? Absurd -- or insincere?
  • The devil's most devilish when respectable.
  • How many desolate creatures on the earth have learnt the simple dues of fellowship and social comfort, in a hospital.
  • The works of women are symbolical. We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight, producing what? A pair of slippers, sir, to put on when you're weary -- or a stool. To stumble over and vex you... curse that stool! Or else at best, a cushion, where you lean and sleep, and dream of something we are not, but would be for your sake. Alas, alas! This hurts most, this... that, after all, we are paid the worth of our work, perhaps.
  • Let no one till his death be called unhappy. Measure not the work until the day's out and the labor done.
  • Experience, like a pale musician, holds a dulcimer of patience in his hand.

Citation

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Born
Mar 6, 1806
Kelloe
Also known as
  • Elizabeth Browning
  • Browning, Elizabeth Barrett
  • Elizabeth B. Browning
  • Elizabeth Barrett
Parents
Siblings
Spouses
Children
Ethnicity
  • English people
Nationality
  • England
Profession
Lived in
  • Herefordshire
    (1809 - )
  • Italy
    (1846 - 1861)
Died
Jun 29, 1861
Florence
Resting place
English Cemetery, Florence

Submitted
on July 23, 2013