Image of Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Lifetime: 806 - 1861 Passed: ≈ 162 years ago





Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an English poet of the Victorian era, popular in Britain and the United States during her lifetime.

Born in County Durham, the eldest of 11 children, Elizabeth Barrett wrote poetry from the age of eleven. Her mother's collection of her poems forms one of the largest extant collections of juvenilia by any English writer. At 15 she became ill, suffering intense head and spinal pain for the rest of her life. Later in life she also developed lung problems, possibly tuberculosis. She took laudanum for the pain from an early age, which is likely to have contributed to her frail health.

In the 1840s Elizabeth was introduced to literary society through her cousin, John Kenyon. Her first adult collection of poems was published in 1838 and she wrote prolifically between 1841 and 1844, producing poetry, translation and prose. She campaigned for the abolition of slavery and her work helped influence reform in the child labour legislation. Her prolific output made her a rival to Tennyson as a candidate for poet laureate on the death of Wordsworth.

Elizabeth's volume Poems (1844) brought her great success, attracting the admiration of the writer Robert Browning. Their correspondence, courtship and marriage were carried out in secret, for fear of her father's disapproval. Following the wedding she was indeed disinherited by her father. In 1846, the couple moved to Italy, where she would live for the rest of her life. They had one son, Robert Wiedeman Barrett Browning, whom they called Pen. She died in Florence in 1861. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband shortly after her death.

Elizabeth's work had a major influence on prominent writers of the day, including the American poets Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson. She is remembered for such poems as "How Do I Love Thee?" (Sonnet 43, 1845) and Aurora Leigh (1856).

Books by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnets from the Portugese Cover image

Sonnets from the Portugese

Poetry Fiction
Marriage Sonnet Love

Sonnets from the Portuguese, written ca. 1845–1846 and published first in 1850, is a collection of 44 love sonnets written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The collection was acclaimed and popular during the poet's lifetime and it remains so.

The Battle of Marathon Cover image

The Battle of Marathon

Battle Military Narrative

The Battle of Marathon is a rhymed, dramatic, narrative-poem by Elizabeth Barrett (later Browning). Written in 1820, when Barrett was aged 14, it retells powerfully The Battle of Marathon, during which the Athenian state defeated the much larger inva...

From Queen's Gardens Cover image

From Queen's Gardens

Love Nature Symbolism Self-Discovery Poems Reflection Emotion Relationships Complex

Step into the enchanting world of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetic masterpiece, "From Queen's Gardens." Like a delicate thread woven through time, this collection of verses beckons readers to wander through the secret pathways of a queen's cherish...

Consolation Cover image


Love Death Poems Art Hope Verses Experiences God Sorrow

In the wake of a devastating loss, a woman finds solace in the beauty of nature and the power of love. Consolation is a collection of poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning that explore the themes of grief, loss, and hope. The poems were written after...

Truth Cover image


Truth Nature Treasure Poems Challenges Verses God Peace Secret

What is truth? And how can we know it? In her poem "Truth," Elizabeth Barrett Browning explores these questions with her characteristic brilliance and passion. She argues that truth is not something that can be found in books or in the opinions of o...