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Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning a Legendary Love Story

Updated on December 9, 2014

The Love Story of Elizabeth and Robert

The story of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning is a moving love story.

Elizabeth, an invalid, was a poet of renown and Robert was an aspiring dramatist. For over two years, these lovers wrote more than six hundred letters to each other.

Finally, they eloped, but Elizabeth's tyrannical father never forgave this 'desertion' and he never spoke to his daughter again.

Elizabeth Barrett

Elizabeth (1806-1861) was a fiercely intelligent woman who wrote about social injustice, including slavery and child labour. Her popularity as a poet was enhanced by her passion for social causes.

When she was 14 Elizabeth developed a lung ailment that plagued her for the rest of her life. The next year she had an accident while horseriding which resulted in a spinal injury. Doctors treated her with morphine, which she would take until her death.

A collection of her last poems was published by her husband shortly after her death.

Robert Browning

Robert Browning (1812 - 1889), born in Camberwell, England, was exposed to literature early. His father, a bank clerk, was also an artist, an antiquarian, and a collector of rare books in many languages. Much of Browning's education came from his well-read father.

Robert was educated at home and briefly enrolled at the University of London which he left, anxious to read and learn at his own pace. The random nature of his education later surfaced in his writing, leading to criticism of his poems' obscurities.

His published poetry failed and his works of drama were unsuccessful, but the techniques he developed through his dramatic monologues are regarded as his most important contribution to poetry, influencing such major poets of the 20th century as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and Robert Frost.

Quote from Elizabeth

How do I love thee?

During these two years of exchanged letters, Elizabeth wrote a book of poetry (1846), Sonnets from the Portuguese in which she asks .." How do I love thee?"

The Barretts of Wimpole Street

1934 film with Norma Shearer as Elizabeth (affectionately called 'Ba' by her many brothers and sisters). Charles Laughton brilliantly plays her despotic father.

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© 2013 Susanna Duffy

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    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      It would be love text messages or emails these days! Not quite so romantic

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 5 years ago

      This love story really is legendary...*blessed*