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Browning Elizabeth Barrett

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett (born 1806, died 29th June, 1861), more properly Elizabeth Barrett Moulton-Barrett Browning, was born in London, a daughter of Mr. Mouflon, a wealthy Jamaica planter, who added the name of Barrett to his own. She began to write poetry at ten, and in 1827 published anonymously her first volume of verses, an Essay on Mind, with a number of smaller poems. In 1833 she sent to press a translation of AEschylus' Prometheus Bound and a collection of Miscellaneous Poems. She was already a student of Greek philosophy, as well as of Greek poetry; she also acquired a mastery of Hebrew, as well as of Italian and other modern languages, and all this notwithstanding her state of chronic ill-health. Though a delicate infant, she had grown to be a fairly-strong and high-spirited girl, when, at about the age of fourteen, she met with injury to her spine, which permanently undermined her health. In 1837 a blood-vessel broke upon her lungs and endangered her life. This, however, did not prevent her from publishing The Seraphim and other Poems in the following year. In the summer of 1839 her health received another shock: her favourite brother and two friends were drowned before her eyes at Torquay. It was not till 1840 that she could be taken back to London - to Gloucester Place, where, in a darkened room, she lived in seclusion for six years, enduring much pain, but always writing or reading. In 1844 she published her touching Cry of the Children. In the following year she became acquainted with Robert Browning, and was married to him at St. Pancras church, on September 12th, 1846, in strict privacy. Her father never forgave her disregard of his authority; but in every other respect the marriage abundantly justified itself. Her health gradually improved, and for some years she lived at a higher physical level. To this period belongs her best work. In 1850 appeared her Sonnets from the Portuguese, written some time before, in which she sings out her love under the thin disguise of a fictitious title. This was followed, in 1851, by Casa Guidi, and this in 1856 by her longest poem, Aurora Leigh, "a novel in verse." In 1860, the year before her death, came her Poems before Congress; her Last Poems were published by her sorrowing husband in 1862. The defects in Mrs. Browning's work are occasional roughness of versification and forcing of phrase, lack of variety, want of humour, and - more serious still - absence of reserve. Its merits, however - its splendid pourtrayal of a romantic passion, strong yet pure, its wealth and magnificence of metaphor, its social enthusiasm, its spirit of freedom, its spiritual significance - are such as to give her indisputable right to the foremost place among poetesses.