Elizabeth Barret Browning was born on March 6, 1806, the eldest child of Edward Moulton Barret. The family had owned sugar plantations in the British colony of Jamaica and lived there for generations but Elizabeth was brought up at Hope End, the family estate in Hereforshire, England. She was highly intelligent, studying Greek and Lation, as well as the modern languages of French, Italian and Portuguese. Elizabeth was twelve years old when she wrote an epic poem, The Battle of Marathon. Unfortunately, her health declined while she was in her teens and never fully recovered.

In 1828, Elizabeth’s mother passed away and she and her siblings were left to the authority of their tyrannical father. Mismanagement and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in the early 1830s lead to a decrease in the financial return of the family’s Jamaican plantations and a reduction in their income. The family estate of Hope End was sold and they eventually settled in London. It was here that she met her husband, the poet Robert Browning after he wrote to her praising a collection of poems published in 1844. Her father opposed any of his children marrying so the couple married in secret in 1846 and eloped to Florence, Italy. Her health improved and they had a son, Robert Wideman (Pen). Elizabeth and Robert remained happily married until her death on June 29, 1861 at age 55.

Her works include a translation of Prometheus Bound(1833) by the Greek dramatist Aeschylus, the verse novel Aurora Leigh(1857) and the romantic Sonnets from the Portuguese(1850). 

 

Robert Browning, Field Taulford, 1859. http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/rb/gallery/2.html

According to the caption, this portrait was executed  as a companion to one of Elizabeth by the same artist in the National Portrait Gallery.

 

 Work Cited

“Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Poets.Org. http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/elizabeth-barrett-browning Web. Accessed 1 May 2014.

Glenn Everett and Isaac Martin. “The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.”  http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/ebb/ebbio.html Web. Accessed 1 May 2014.