History's Women: Miscellaneous Articles: Elizabeth B. Browning, English PoetessElizabeth B. Browning
English Poetess
1806 – 1861 A.D.

The highest place among modern poetesses belongs to Mrs. Browning, and she far outranks most of our modern poets. Her pure joy and lofty sentiment and intellectual power are far inferior only to Tennyson.

She was born in London and was from infancy a delicate child. She was naturally retiring and loved solitude. At fifteen she sustained an injury of the spine which further weakened her physical powers. Being deprived of the usual pursuits and pleasures of young people she gave herself to study and began to write. She could see little of the world and so she found or made her own.

In 1839 she burst a blood vessel of the lungs and was removed to a milder climate. Soon afterwards her favorite brother, with two other young men, drowned while sailing. These physical and mental shocks so weakened her that for years she lived in a darkened room, visited only by her family and a few intimate friends. Yet from that fairy hand came works of power which made the world marvel. She settled down to her lot with sweet resignation, in no wise questioning her Master’s goodness and love.

Then came a change. Robert Browning had already won for himself a name. He had learned to love the invalid poetess through her works and sought her in marriage, to the amazement of her family and friends. He believed that she need not be an invalid all her days. Love could win her to health she had never known.

They were married and spent four years in France and Italy. When they returned to England Mrs. Browning a new creature. Hope, Love, and Italy had wrought marvels. Theirs was a perfect a union as the world often sees. Each had a marked individuality. Each was a complement to the other.

Mrs. Browning possessed the unusual combination of masculine understanding and thoroughly feminine heart. She could treat social problems in a mastery way and at the same time she could set forth the tenderest, deepest sentiments of a woman’s heart.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.

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