A FAIR PORTRAIT OF Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Elizabeth Barrett Browning (née Elizabeth Barrett   Moulton-Barrett)was  born at Cohnadatia Hall                 (now demolished) near Durham, England in 1806,  the daughter of Creole plantation owner Edward              Moulton-Barrett,who   assumed the last name  “Barrett” on succeeding to   the estates  of his  grandfather in Jamaica.  She  was     christened in    Kelloe church, where a plaque describes her as ‘a great poetess, a noble woman, a devoted wife’. Her mother was Mary Graham-Clarke of a wealthy family of Newcastle upon Tyne. She is one of the descendents of King Edward III of England. [1]
Elizabeth spent her youth at Hope End, near Great Malvern. While still a child she showed her gift, and her father published 50 copies of a juvenile epic, on the Battle of Marathon. She was educated at home, but owed her profound knowledge of the Greek language and much mental stimulus to her early friendship with the blind scholar, Hugh Stuart Boyd, who was a neighbour.
In her early teens, Elizabeth contracted a lung complaint, possibly tuberculosis, although the exact nature has been the subject of much speculation, and was treated as an invalid by her parents. For a girl of that time, she was well-educated, having been allowed to attend lessons with her brother’s tutor. She published her first poem, anonymously, at the age of fourteen. In 1826 she published anonymously An Essay on Mind and Other Poems.
Browning is generally considered the greatest of English poetesses. Her works are full of tender and delicate, but also of strong and deep, thought. Her own sufferings, combined with her moral and intellectual strength, made her the champion of the suffering and oppressed wherever she found them. Her gift was essentially lyrical, though much of her work was not so in form. Her weak points are the lack of compression, an occasional somewhat obtrusive mannerism, and frequent failure both in metre and rhyme. Though not nearly the equal of her husband in force of intellect and the higher qualities of the poet, her works had, as might be expected on a comparison of their respective subjects and styles, a much earlier and wider acceptance with the general public. Mrs. Browning was a woman of singular nobility and charm, and though not beautiful, was remarkably attractive. Mary Russell Mitford thus describes her as a young woman: “A slight, delicate figure, with a shower of dark curls falling on each side of a most expressive face; large, tender eyes, richly fringed by dark eyelashes, and a smile like a sunbeam.” Anne Thackeray Ritchie described her as: “Very small and brown” with big, exotic eyes and an overgenerous mouth.
No female poet was held in higher esteem among cultured readers in both the United States and England than Elizabeth Barrett Browning during the nineteenth century. Barrett’s poetry had an immense impact on the works of Emily Dickinson who admired her as woman of achievement

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

The Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Battle of Marathon, c. 1818 (age 12).
“The Rose and Zephyr,” first published work, appears in 1825 Literary Gazette.
An Essay on Mind (poems), 1826
Prometheus Bound (translation of Aeschylus), 1833
The Seraphim and Other Poems, 1838
“The Cry of the Children” published 1842
Poems, 1844
Poems (includes the Sonnets from the Portuguese), 1850.
Love and Marriage: How Biographical Interpretation affected the Reception of “Sonnets from the Portugese”
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”
Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave
Casa Guidi Windows, 1851
Aurora Leigh, 1857
Poems Before Congress, 1860
Last Poems (including “De Profundis”) published posthumously, 1862

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