Elizabeth Barrett Browning biography
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born
on March 6, 1806 to Edward Barrett and Mary
Graham-Clarke, a financially well-to-do couple who
owned Jamaican sugar plantations. She was the eldest
of twelve children and she, together with her
siblings, spent much of their childhood at the
family home in Herefordshire, England.
Her father educated her at home, but much of her
knowledge can be attributed to her friendship with
Hugh Stuart Boyd, a blind scholar who was also their
neighbor. Although she was not allowed to go to
school, she learned much by attending the tutorial
lessons of her brother. At 14, she penned and
published her first poem.
Several misfortunes, including the death of her
mother, and the abolition of slavery, which was
instrumental in reducing the family income
significantly prompted the Barretts to sell their
estate and move to London. The move to London had an
adverse effect on her health and Elizabeth Browning
often fell ill. This, however, did not impede on her
writing, and her fame as a poet and critic grew.
On 10 January 1845, Elizabeth Barrett received a
letter from fellow writer, Robert Browning, whose
first line went: "I love your verses with all my
heart, dear Miss Barrett -- I do, as I say, love
these verses with all my heart...". This started a
remarkable courtship that lasted for over a year.
Edward Barrett looked down upon this relationship as
he did not want any of his children to marry. The
couple opted to elope and got married in secret on
12 September 1846. Edward Barrett never forgave his
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her husband, Robert
Barrett, moved to Italy in 1846 and lived in Casa
Guidi in Florence. Her health improved vastly in
Italy and in 1849, after three miscarriages,
Elizabeth gave birth to Robert Wiedemann Browning,
whom they fondly called Pen.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning died in the arms of her
husband on June 29, 1861. She left behind several
exquisite literary pieces including Sonnets From the
Portuguese (1850), Casa Guidi Windows (1851), Aurora
Leigh (1857), and Poems Before Congress (1960). She
is, however, most known for Sonnet 43 (Love Sonnet),
a poem she wrote to her husband sometime during
their married life in Italy.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is buried in the English
Cemetery in Florence, Italy.