ELIZABETH BARRET BROWNING
(6th march 1806-1861)
Born in Durham, England, Elizabeth was a famous poet of Victorian England. Wife of Rober Browning, she is best known for her romance with Browning and only her Sonnets from the Portuguese are widely read. She learned classic greed, Latin and several modern languages at an early age and was admired by her father for her accomplishments.
He arranged for printing of a long poem written by his 13 year old daughter. In 1821, Elizabeth injured her spine in a fall and further her condition was aggravated by the shock of her brother’s drowning in 1838 and she became a permanent invalid. She spent most of her time in darkened room where she wrote poetry and many letters. Robert Browning admired her poems and engaged to her later. He secretly married her as Elizabeth’s father opposed and went to Italy where her health improved. They had a son later and stayed at a villa in Italy. English and American writers and artists visited the Browning couple. The diction and rhythm of Elizabeth’s poems have an attractive, spontaneous quality, though some may seem overly sentimental. Her best poems appear in Sonnets from the Portuguese, not translations but a sequence of 44 sonnets recording the growth of her love for Browning. He often called her ‘my little portuguese’ because of her dark complexion. How do I love thee…Let me count the ways was jotted down in 43rd sonnet of Elizabeth’s most famous poem. She wrote poems on protesting against unjust social conditions. ‘The cry of the Children’ attacked the misuse of child labour in England. She also wrote works appealing for political freedom for Italy and other countries controlled by foreign countries.