Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

1806-1861

 

Elizabeth Barrett-Browning is buried in the English cemetery in Piazzale Donatello, Florence, Italy, Europe.
 

Tomb of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning.

Also buried here are Arthur Hugh Clough and Walter Savage Landor.

Elizabeth grew up at Hope End, in the Malvern Hills in Herefordshire. She had a happy childhood and was precociously intelligent - undertaking translations of Homer at the age of 8.

Following a riding accident, which made her an invalid, her family moved to 50 Wimpole Street in London in 1838. It was here that she first met fellow poet Robert Browning on May 20th 1845. They soon fell in love and began to correspond regularly. However, her tyrannical father would not allow her to marry  - so in 1846 she and Browning famously eloped. Elizabeth left England  accompanied by her maid Wilson and with her beloved spaniel, Flush.

The couple reached Italy in October 1846 and set up residence at to Casa Guidi in Florence where she lived until her death in 1861.  In 1849 Elizabeth gave birth to a son - who was always known by the nickname Pen.

Portrait of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

by Michele Gordigiani

During her lifetime she was held in higher regard than Browning. She was even tipped to succeed William Wordsworth as poet laureate in 1850.

Her major works include Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850) (written for Browning), Casa Guido Windows (1851) on Italian liberation, her verse novel Aurora Leigh (1857), Poems before Congress (1860) and Last Poems - published posthumously in 1862.

She died in the arms of her husband, after 15 years of happy marriage, on the morning of June 29 1861.

Her tomb was designed by Lord Leighton and was built by Luigi Giovannozzi.

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 everyday'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 thee with the 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.

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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