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Browning, Elizabeth Barrett (nee Moulton)

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Born: 1806 AD
Died: 1861 AD, at 55 years of age.

Nationality: English
Categories: Poets

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1806 - Elizabeth Barrett Moulton was born March 6th in Coxhoe Hall, Durham, England.

1816 - Elizabeth, an accomplished child, had read a number of Shakespearian plays, parts of Pope's Homeric translations, passages from Paradise Lost, and the histories of England, Greece, and Rome before the age of ten.

1818 - By the age of twelve she had written an "epic" poem consisting of four books of rhyming couplets. Barrett later referred to her first literary attempt as, "Pope's Homer done over again, or rather undone".

1821 - Although frail, she apparently had no health problems, when Dr. Coker prescribed opium for a nervous disorder.

1822 - Elizabeth Barrett's interests tended more and more to the scholarly and literary.

1832-1837 - Mr. Barrett's financial losses in the early 30s forced him to sell Hope End, and although never poor, the family moved three times, settling at 50 Wimpole Street in London.

1838 - "The Seraphim and Other Poems" appeared, the first volume of Elizabeth's mature poetry to appear under her own name. That same year her health forced her to move to Torquay, on the Devonshire coast.

1844 - Her "Poems" made her one of the most popular writers in the land, and inspired Robert Browning to write her, telling her how much he loved her poems.

1845 - Kenyon arranged for Browning to come see her in May, and so began one of the most famous courtships in literature. Six years his elder and an invalid, she could not believe that the vigorous and worldly Browning really loved her as much as he professed to, and her doubts are expressed in the "Sonnets from the Portuguese" which she wrote over the next two years.

1946 - Browning imitated his hero Shelley by spiriting his beloved off to Italy in August. Since they were proper Victorians, however, they got married a week beforehand.

1849 - They had a son, Robert Wiedeman Barrett Browning.

1850 - She wrote poem "How do I love thee, let me count the ways", poetry collection "Sonnets from the Portuguese".

1851-1860 - Two of her poems, "Casa Guidi Windows" and "Poems Before Congress", dealt directly with the Italian fight for independence.

1861 - It is still unclear what sort of affliction Elizabeth Barrett Browning had, although medical and literary scholars have enjoyed speculating. Whatever it was, the opium which was repeatedly prescribed probably made it worse; and Browning almost certainly lengthened her life by taking her south and by his solicitous attention.

         - She died in his arms on June 29th in Florence due to respiratory failure. Her remains were buried in Cimitero Degli Inglesi, Florence, Italy.

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Page last updated: 10:30pm, 09th Mar '07

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