Robert and Elizabeth Browning

A secret courtship between two legendary poets

by David Johnson

Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her husband, Robert Browning, led lives suited for leading Romantic poets. Their story contains all the elements-a secret courtship, elopement, love poems, and the beautiful Italian landscape.

Writing poetry as a child, Elizabeth published a book, Poems, in 1844. The work impressed Browning, a poet himself, and he began a correspondence. The two later met and fell in love.

Opposition from Elizabeth's father forced them to elope in 1846. They later fled to Italy, where they lived and worked for 15 years. Much of their work was inspired by their own long romance, including Elizabeth's Sonnets from the Portuguese. After Elizabeth's death in 1861, Browning returned to England, where he continued to write until his own death in 1889.

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