Well, here’s a bit of news that maybe you didn’t know. Have you ever heard of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning? They were great poets back in the 1800’s. Elizabeth was born in 1806 near Durham, England. She was born into luxury, but she had weak lungs and often kept to herself. Her poetry, however, was very well-received. By 1844, she had already published two volumes of poetry, and she was finding her way into the well-known poetry circles of the day.
Robert Browning, on the other hand, was the son of a Bank Clerk, and he studied at the University of London and at home. His poetry was heavily criticized, and dramatic monolgue was his preferred form of poetry. The critics did not like it much, but Elizabeth defended it. It was because of this defense that he wrote to Elizabeth desiring to meet her.
While she refused at first, they did meet and fell quickly in love. Elizabeth’s father saw Robert as a fortune-hunter so most of the courtship happened in secret. On this date in 1846, Elizabeth sneaked out of the house while her family was away and met Robert at St. Marylebone Parish Church. They married that evening, and she returned to her family home for a week. She actually kept the marriage a secret during this time. After that week, she ran off with Robert to Italy, and she never saw her father again.
The couple enjoyed 15 years of wedded bliss. They had a son in 1849, and she published her best-known work in 1850, Sonnets from the Portuguese. These poems chronicled the courtship and love between the famous couple. In 1857, her blank-verse novel Aurora Leigh became a best-seller in spite of the critics. During her lifetime, Elizabether was better known than her husband and was sometimes referred to as Mrs. Browning’s husband. Robert’s work took off later on. Elizabeth died in her husband’s arms in 1861. Following this, he returned to England with their son. Robert died in 1889.
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