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Elizabeth Barret Browning Biography

"I am not of a cold nature, & cannot bear to be treated coldly. When cold water is thrown upon a hot iron, the iron hisses. I wish that water wd. make that iron as cold as self."

Browning was born on March 6, 1806, at Coxhoe Hall, Durham, and privately educated. In 1826 her An Essay on Mind and Other Poems was published anonymously. Her translation of Prometheus Bound, by Aeschylus, appeared in 1833. Five years later, in The Seraphim and Other Poems, she expressed Christian sentiments in the form of classical Greek tragedy. She was an invalid for nearly a decade after 1838 as a result of a childhood spinal injury and lung ailment. She continued writing, however, and in 1844 produced a volume of poems including "the Cry of the Children" and "Lady Geraldine's Courtship".

Shortly thereafter the poet Robert Browning began to write to Elizabeth to praise her poetry. Their romance, which was immortalised in 1930 in the play The Barretts of Wimpole Street, by Rudolf Besier, was bitterly opposed by her father. In 1846, however, the couple eloped and settled in Florence, Italy, where Elizabeth regained her health and bore a son. Her Sonnets from the Portuguese, dedicated to her husband and written in secret before her marriage, was published in 1850. Critics generally consider the Sonnets, one of the most widely known collections of love lyrics in English, to be her best work. She expressed her intense sympathy with the struggle for the unification of Italy in the collections of poems Casa Guidi Windows and Poems Before Congress. Her longest and most ambitious work is the didactic, romantic poem in blank verse Aurora Leigh.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning died in Florence on June 29, 1861.