Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an English poet of the Victorian era, popular in Britain and the United States during her lifetime.
Born in County Durham on 6 March 1806, the eldest of 12 children, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote poetry from the age of eleven.
Her mother’s collection of her poems forms one of the largest extant collections of juvenilia by any English writer. At 15 she became ill, suffering intense head and spinal pain for the rest of her life.
In the 1840s Elizabeth was introduced to literary society through her cousin, John Kenyon.
Her first adult collection of poems was published in 1838 and she wrote prolifically between 1841 and 1844, producing poetry, translation, and prose.
She campaigned for the abolition of slavery and her work helped influence reform in the child labor legislation. Her prolific output made her a rival to Tennyson as a candidate for poet laureate on the death of Wordsworth.
Elizabeth’s volume Poems (1844) brought her great success, attracting the admiration of the writer Robert Browning. Their correspondence, courtship, and marriage were carried out in secret, for fear of her father’s disapproval.
Elizabeth’s work had a major influence on prominent writers of the day, including the American poets Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson. She is remembered for such poems as “How Do I Love Thee?” (1845) and “Aurora Leigh” (1856).
Elizabeth Barrett Browning died in Florence in 1861. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband shortly after her death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning Quotes:
1. “You’re something between a dream and a miracle.”
2. 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 candle-light. 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.”
3. “Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”
4. “Why, what is to live? Not to eat and drink and breathe,—but to feel the life in you down all the fibres of being, passionately and joyfully.”
5. “Light tomorrow with today.”
6. “What we call Life is a condition of the soul. And the soul must improve in happiness and wisdom, except by its own fault. These tears in our eyes, these faintings of the flesh, will not hinder such improvement.”
7. “You were made perfectly to be loved and surely I have loved you in the idea of you my whole life long. ”
8. “The face of all the world is changed, I think Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul.”
9. “My sun sets to rise again.”
10. “Who so loves believes the impossible.”
11. “With stammering lips and insufficient sound I strive and struggle to deliver right the music of my nature.”
12. “Measure not the work until the day’s out and the labor done.”