Robert Browning Biblography

Published: 2021-09-10 16:30:09
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Browning's career began with the publication of the anonymous poem Pauline. The piece, which disappeared without notice, would embarrass him for the rest of his life.[1] The long poem Paracelsus, about the renowned doctor and alchemist, had no general popularity; nevertheless, it gained the notice of Thomas Carlyle, Wordsworth, and other men of letters, and gave him a reputation as a poet of distinguished promise on the London scene. Browning came to befriend Charles Dickens, John Forster, Harriet Martineau and Carlyle, as well as William Charles Macready who encouraged Browning to write the play Strafford, performed in 1837 by Macready and Helen Faucit.[3] It was no great success but Browning was encouraged enough to try again, going on to write eight plays in all, including Pippa Passes (1841) and A Soul's Tragedy (1846). A troubled production of A Blot on the 'Scutcheon (1843) was followed by the publication of the experimental and politically radical long poem Sordello (1840), which were both met with widespread derision. Tennyson commented that he only understood the first and last lines and Carlyle noted that his wife had read the poem through and could not tell whether Sordello was a man, a city or a book.[3] His reputation would not rise again for 25 years.[3]

In 1845, Browning met the poet Elizabeth Barrett, six years his elder, who lived as a semi-invalid in her father's house in Wimpole Street, London. They began regularly corresponding and gradually a romance developed between them, leading to their elopement on 12 September 1846.[3]The marriage was initially secret because Elizabeth's domineering father disapproved of marriage for any of his children. Mr. Barrett disinherited Elizabeth, as he did for each of his children who married: "The Mrs. Browning of popular imagination was a sweet, innocent young woman who suffered endless cruelties at the hands of a tyrannical papa but who nonetheless had the good fortune to fall in love with a dashing and handsome poet named Robert Browning. "[4] At her husband's insistence, the second edition of Elizabeth's Poems included her love sonnets. The book increased her popularity and high critical regard, cementing her position as an eminent Victorian poet. Upon William Wordsworth's death in 1850, she was a serious contender to become Poet Laureate, the position eventually going to Tennyson.


1882 caricature from Punch Magazine reading: "The Ring and Bookmaker from Red Cotton Nightcap country"From the time of their marriage and until Elizabeth's death, the Brownings lived in Italy , residing first in Pisa, and then, within a year, finding an apartment in Florence at Casa Guidi (now a museum to their memory).[3] Their only child, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning, nicknamed "Penini" or "Pen", was born in 1849.[3] In these years Browning was fascinated by and learned from the art and atmosphere of Italy. He would, in later life, describe Italy as his university. Browning bought a home in Asolo, in the Veneto outside Venice.[5] As Elizabeth had inherited money of her own, the couple were reasonably comfortable in Italy, and their relationship together was happy. However, the literary assault on Browning's work did not let up and he was critically dismissed further, by patrician

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