Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a plain woman of the Victorian Era that was most remarkably gifted. She “was destined to become known to the world”(Preston xi). Elizabeth Barrett Browning became known for her poetry, because she showed marriages were her women character were often left emotionally unstable.
In her book Recollections, Browning describes what poetry means to herself. She explained that it “became a distinct object with me; an object to read, think, and live for” (Preston xii). Browning was described as a strong woman-poet who had little to no training. She came from the “Italian hills into a prim English feminine household, and inevitably assuming there that attitude of superiority to everything about her which is so contrary to that of true genius” (Oliphant 1). According to L. Roberts Steven of The Critical Survey of Poetry, “Elizabeth Barrett Browning did not think it a kindness when critics praised her as a ‘woman poet’”(397). She wanted to be known as a poet.
Browning’s main theme to her poetry was love plots, said Schneller editor of British Women Writers. The structure of Browning’s poems are unusually “centered on marriages which destroyed the woman involved”(Schneller 104). Browning’s women characters were almost always youthful, perverse, and fearless women that when “subdued into marriage”, would often take part in a “scandalous affair(s) with a robust lover”(Schneller 104). According to Schneller, the theme of love and marriage caught the eye of many readers, and made her known worldwide (104).
Browning published “The Seraphim and Other Poems” in 1838, and the critic Glenn Everett believed that this collection of poems was “the first volume of Elizabeth’s mature poetry”(Everett 1). Many critics agreed that this was the beginning of Browning’s road to success. The critic Schneller disagrees with Everett and felt that “Sonnets from the Portuguese”, “Casa Guidi Window”, “Aurora Leigh”, and “Last Poems” “represent(s) the best of Elizabeth Browning’s work”(106). The early stages of her poetry are described as “a sinewy and idiosyncratic colloquialism”, and the verse of her poem was too “sing-song and “immature”(Leighton 106).
Leighton explains how in “Sonnets from the Portuguese” Browning declares her strong emo...
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...wning. Baltimore. 1988
From Book Five:[Poets and Presents Age]. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Criticism of Carlyle in “Aurora Leigh”. [Online] Available http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/victorian/ebb/html (1).
Hayter, Alethea. British Writers Vol. IV. Charles Scribners Sons. The British Council. 1981. (311,315).
Landow, George P. Biographical Fact and Fiction in “Aurora Leigh”. [Online] Available http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/victorianebb/ebbio.html
Leighton, Angelia. British Women Writers. Chicago. Continum Publishing Co. 1989. (105-106).
Oliphant, Margaret. Margaret Oliphant on E. B. Browining’s “Aurora Leigh”. [Online] Available http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/victorian/ebb/all.html (1).
Preston, Harriet W. The Complete Poetical Works of Mrs. Browning. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1900. (xi, xii, xvi).
Schneller. British Women Writers. Chicago. Continum Publishing Co. 1989. (104).
Scudder, Horace E. The Complete Poetical Works of Mrs. Browning. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1900.
Stevens, L. Roberts. The Critical Survey of Poetry. Salem Press. Boston. 1992. (397, 399).