Robert Browning

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Robert Browning was born on May 7, 1812, in Camberwell, England and he received very little formal education after the age of 14. His mother, Sarah Wiedemann Browning, was an accomplished pianist and a devout evangelical Christian. His father, Robert Browning, worked as a bank clerk, was also an artist, scholar, antiquarian, and collector of books and pictures. His father's rare book collection is reported to have had more than 6,000 volumes included works in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish.

Robert was said to be an impulsive, fearless little boy who was also rather a prodigy. Much of Browning's education came from his well-read father. It is believed that he was already proficient at reading and writing by the age of five. A bright and anxious student, learning Latin, Greek, and French by the time he was fourteen. From fourteen to sixteen he was educated at home, attended to by various tutors in music, drawing, dancing, and horsemanship. At the age of twelve he wrote a volume of Byronic verse entitled Incondita, which his parents attempted, unsuccessfully, to have published. In 1825, a cousin gave Browning a collection of Shelley's poetry; Browning was so taken with the book that he asked for the rest of Shelley's works for his thirteenth birthday, and declared himself a vegetarian and an atheist in emulation of the poet. Despite this early passion, he apparently wrote no poems between the ages of thirteen and twenty.

In 1828, Browning enrolled at the University of London, but did not stay long, anxious to read and learn at his own pace. The random nature of his education later surfaced in his writing, leading to criticism of his poems' obscurities.
His first volume of poetry, Pauline, appeared in 1833 without signature. His early work attracted little attention until the publication of Paracelsus in 1835 that brought him into prominence among the literary figures of the day. "Paracelsus" was the first poem in which Browning used a Renaissance setting, a familiar motif in his later work.

In 1833, Browning first major work, Pauline was published anonymously , and in 1840 he published Sordello, which was widely regarded as a failure. He also tried his hand at drama, but his plays, including Strafford, which ran for five nights in 1837, and the Bells and Pomegranates series, were for the most part unsuccessful. ( Bells and Pomegranates, included several of his best-known dramatic lyrics, such as ‘How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix’. "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," and Dramatic Romances and Lyrics in 1845 also including "Pippa Passes," "My Last Duchess," and "The Bishop Orders His Tomb",) Nevertheless, the techniques he developed through his dramatic monologues, especially his use of diction, rhythm, and symbol, are regarded as his most important contribution to poetry, influencing such major poets of the twentieth century as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and Robert Frost.

Picture courtesy:Wikipedia

After reading Elizabeth Barrett's Poems (1844) and corresponding with her for a few months, Browning met her in 1845. They were married in 1846, against the wishes of Barrett's father. Because of her ill health, worsened by the English climate, they made their home in Florence, Italy, in the palace later made famous by Elizabeth’s poem, Casa Guidi Windows. where they continued to write.
There he wrote Christmas Eve and Easter-Day in 1850 and a series of dramatic monologues, published collectively as Men and Women (1855), Their son, Robert "Pen" Barrett Browning (1849-1912), the sculptor, was born ( Robert was devastated when his mother Sarah died later that month), and the same year his Collected Poems was published.

Elizabeth inspired Robert's collection of poems Men and Women (1855), which he dedicated to her. Now regarded as one of Browning's best works, the book was received with little notice at the time; its author was then primarily known as Elizabeth Barrett's husband. The collection includes "Fra Lippo Lippi" and "Andrea del Sarto," studies of Renaissance artists.

After the death of Elizabeth in 1861, Browning and his son settled in London, where he wrote his masterpiece, The Ring and the Book (1869), Concerning the events of a 17th-century Italian murder trial, the Ring is an extended dramatic monologue among a number of characters and has been praised as a perceptive psychological study. This was the first poem that brought Browning widespread fame, receiving wide critical acclaim, finally earning a twilight of renown and respect in Browning's career.

In 1811 the Browning Society was founded while he still lived, and in 1882 he was awarded honorary degrees by Oxford University, and in 1884 at the University of Edinburgh.

Although his wife’s reputation as a poet was greater than his own during his lifetime, Robert Browning today is considered one of the major poets of the Victorian era. He is most famous for the development of the dramatic monologue, for his psychological insight, and for his forceful, colloquial poetic style.

In 1878 Browning returned to Italy, where his only son made his home. Robert Browning died on the same day that his final volume of verse, Asolando, was published, Dec. 12, 1889. Browning wanted to be buried next to Emily but at the time of his death the cemetery was not allowing any more burials. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

My Star
Love Among the Ruins
Meeting at Night
Grow Old Along With Me


To read more of Robert Brownings's poems:
Famous Poets and Poems
Representative Poetry On-line


Some more of his poems includes:

A Light Woman, A Lovers' Quarrel, A Pretty Woman, Serenade At The Villa, A Woman's Last Word, Among the Rocks, Another Way Of Love, Any Wife To Any Husband, Before, Bishop Blougram's Apology, Boot And Saddle, By The Fire-Side, Cavalier Tunes: Boot and Saddle, Cavalier Tunes: Give a Rouse, Cavalier Tunes: Marching Along, Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came, Cleon, Confessions, Cristina, Earth's Immortalities, Epilogue, Evelyn Hope, Garden Francies, Heretic's Tragedy, Home Thoughts, From Abroad, Home Thoughts, From The Sea, In A Gondola, In A Year, In Three Days, Incident Of The French Camp, Instans Tyrannus, Life in a Bottle, Life In A Love, Love In A Life, Man I Am and Man Would Be, Love, Master Hugues Of Saxe-Gotha, Memorabilia, Misconceptions, Nationality In Drinks, Never The Time And The Place, Old Pictures In Florence, One Way Of Love, Over the Sea our Galleys Went, Overhead The Tree-Tops Meet, Pan and Luna, Parting At Morning, Pippa's Song, Popularity, Porphyria's Lover, Prospice, Protus, Rabbi Ben Ezra, Respectability, The Boy And the Angel, The Confessional, The Englishman In Italy, The Glove, The Guardian-Angel, The Italian In England, The Laboratory, The Last Ride Together, The Lost Leader, The Lost Mistress, The Patriot, The Statue and the Bust, The Twins, The Wanderers, The Year's At The Spring, Time's Revenges, To Edward Fitzgerald, Two In The Campagna, Verse-Making Was Least of My Virtues, Waring, Why I Am a Liberal, Women And Roses, You'll love me yet!-and I can tarry, Youth and Art.

The Agamemnon of Aeschylus


Aristophanes' Apology
Balaustion's Adventure, Including a Transcript from Euripides
Bells and Pomegranates, No. IV - The Return of the Druses: A Tragedy in Five Acts
Bells and Pomegranates. No. I - Pippa Passes
Bells and Pomegranates. No. II - King Victor and King Charles
Bells and Pomegranates. No. III - Dramatic Lyrics
Bells and Pomegranates. No. V - A Blot in the 'Scutcheon: A Tragedy in Five Acts
Bells and Pomegranates. No. V - Colombe's Birthday: A Play in Five Acts
Bells and Pomegranates. No. VII - Dramatic Romances and Lyrics
Bells and Pomegranates. No. VIII - and Last, Luria; and A Soul's Tragedy
Dramatis Personae Fifine at the Fair Poems: A New Edition Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, Saviour of Society Strafford: An Historical Tragedy


[Poet's Corner Index]


Reference, Research and Source Information

The History Channel

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