This content section has been deprecated.
Please help us clean up the page by moving the content from this section into other relevant sections. Once it has been emptied this section will no longer appear on the page but the edit history will still be available in the page's history.
Her father was part Creole and had lived in Jamaica where the family owned sugar plantations. He moved back to England to raise his family. Elizabeth was the oldest of 12 children.
Elizabeth was educated at home, learning passages from Paradise Lost and Shakespearean plays before the age of 10. She wrote her first epic poem by the age of 12.
At fourteen, Elizabeth developed a lung ailment that troubled her through the remainder of her life. Doctors started treating her with morphine, which she took for the rest of her life. She also suffered from a spinal injury at fifteen. Both ailments contributed to her reclusiveness.
In 1826, Elizabeth’s first collection of poetry was published anonymously.
The family fortune began to decline with the abolition of slavery in England and in 1832; the family’s rural estate was sold at auction. The family moved to a coastal town, renting cottages for the next few years. During this time, Elizabeth published her translation of Prometheus Bound.
Elizabeth suffered a mental setback with the death of her brother in 1838 during the time when she lived in Torquay. She returned to her father’s house and became a recluse, spending the next five years in her bedroom. During this time, she continued to write and had another volume of poetry published in 1844. This is the volume that caught the attention of Robert Browning. He started writing to her and over the course of the next twenty months, they exchanged 574 letters.
Elizabeth’s father was against the romance as he did not want any of his children to marry. Elizabeth ran away, eloping with Robert to Italy in 1846. While in Florence, Elizabeth’s health improved and she and Robert had a son, Robert Wideman Browning. Elizabeth’s father never spoke to her again.
Elizabeth’s most famous work, Sonnets from the Portuguese, was written in secret before their marriage and published in 1850 with the dedication to Robert. The critics consider this to be her best work and have compared her imagery to Shakespeare.
Elizabeth’s later work started to take on political and social themes. Included in these works is her verse novel, Aurora Leigh, which portrays male domination over women.
She died in Florence on June 29, 1861