Elizabeth Barrett Browning

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Grave on the Cimitero degli Inglesi in Florence

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (born March 6, 1806 in Durham , England as Elizabeth Barrett Moulton-Barrett , † June 29, 1861 in Florence ) was an English poet .


The daughter of Edward Moulton-Barrett and Mary Graham-Clarke began writing poetry at a young age. Her father even had an epic poem about the Battle of Marathon printed in small print. She was home-schooled and learned French , Latin and Greek . As a teenager she became ill, the cause could never be clarified. She was cared for by her family as a disabled person.

The family lived on the money that their sugar plantations threw in Jamaica . When slavery was abolished there, the family first had to move to Sidmouth , where Elizabeth wrote Prometheus Bound in 1835 , and then to London . Her health continued to decline there, but this did not affect her zeal for work. She has published many poems: Her first volume of poetry, The Battle of Marathon: A Poem , was privately printed in 1820 (by W. Lindsell). Six years later the collection An Essay on Mind and Other Poems was published anonymously . Elizabeth took an active part in the literary life of the metropolis. In 1838 her volume of poetry The Seraphim and Other Poems was published , which received good reviews. Elizabeth's health deteriorated: In addition to a childhood spinal injury, she had a lung disease. Elizabeth stayed in Torquay for a long time to recover, withdrawn but productive as before.

When her beloved brother drowned, she began to avoid all contact with people and devoted herself only to literature and published several highly regarded works. Elizabeth never got over the loss of her brother (the poem Grief refers to his death ). Elizabeth criticized social problems such as child labor and slavery in her influential poems The cry of the children (1843) and The runaway slave at Pilgrim's Point (1848). In 1844, Elizabeth's acclaimed two-volume Poems (London: Moxon) collection was published, which caught Robert Browning's attention. In 1850 she published a revised version that also contained the famous love poems Sonnets from the Portuguese .

In 1845 she met Robert Browning , whom she later married, although her father was strictly against it. The couple secretly moved to Italy , and she produced several works there, including political ones about the freedom struggles in Tuscany . After a short stay in Pisa, the couple lived in Casa Guidi in Florence. Their son was born in 1849. On her numerous journeys, Elizabeth met her idol George Sand in Paris in 1852 , to whom she had dedicated sonnets. Her epic verse novel Aurora Leigh was published in 1857 (London: Chapman & Hall). In the year 1850 , perhaps appeared to her best-known work, Sonnets from the Portuguese ( Sonnets from the Portuguese ) with love poems. Particularly well known is how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! ... ( How do I love you? Let me count how many ways I love you ... ). In 1860 a collection of her poems was published. She died in Florence in her husband's arms and is buried on the local Cimitero degli Inglesi .

Browning is considered to be the great poet of English literature of the Victorian Age . Her works are tender, delicate, but marked by deep thoughts. Her own suffering, along with her intellectual and moral strengths, has made her the heroine of those who suffer. Her poem "Sabbath Morning at Sea" was set to music by the composer Sir Edward Elgar in his work "Sea Pictures, op. 37".



  • Sonnets from Portuguese . Transferred by Rainer Maria Rilke. Insel-Verlag, Leipzig 1908.
  • "... all alone for the sake of love". Sonnets from Portuguese . Translated by Ingeborg Vetter. Edition Signathur, Dozwil 2012, ISBN 978-3-908141-86-0 .


  • Warner Barnes: A Bibliography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning . Texas & Baylor University, Austin 1967.
  • William S. Peterson: Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning: An Annotated Bibliography, 1951-1970 . The Browning Institute, New York 1974.

Work editions

  • The works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning , edited by Sandra Donaldson. 5 volumes, Pickering & Chatto, London 2009, ISBN 978-1-85196-900-5 .
  • The poetical works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning , edited by Harriet Waters Preston. Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1974, ISBN 0-395-18485-1 (first edition 1900 under the title The complete poetical works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning ).

Literary criticism



Literary processing

  • Margaret Forster: The servant. Roman (original title: Lady's maid ). Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 978-3-596-12292-9 .

Web links

Wikisource: Elizabeth Barrett Browning  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Elizabeth Barrett Browning  - Album containing pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Seraphim and Other Poems . Saunders & Otley, London 1838