Let’s face it, when you think about Valentine’s Day, everyone gets romantic and tries to find a way to tell that special someone they are loved. There have been some great poets and romance writers in our history. Today I want to bring you the story of Elizabeth Barrett and English poet Robert Browning.
Elizabeth Barrett was born in to a wealthy and very well-known family. Elizabeth was a poet, however she was disabled and lived in her father’s house. It was known that her father was a very domineering and controlling man. One day a friend of Robert Browning introduced him to Elizabeth, which he had known about through reading her poetry in 1845. When they met, despite her disability of not being able to walk, they fell in love. Elizabeth’s father did not like Robert because he thought he was only dating her for the family inheritance. Elizabeth and Robert dated secretly and wrote each other love letters. In 1846, hundreds of letters later, they eloped. The sad part of this love relationship was that her father disowned her and her brothers did as well because they felt he was just after their money. Elizabeth was in love and she did not let her family disowning her affect her relationship with Robert. Elizabeth and Robert eventually moved to Italy where they had a son in 1849.
She remained in Italy with her husband and published Sonnets from the Portuguese from 1845–1846 and published first during 1850. “This is a collection of 44 love sonnets written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Read there here .
Read Robert Browning’s first letter to Elizabeth Barrett below:
10 January 1845
New Cross, Hatcham, Surrey.
I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett,-and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write,-whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning and turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me-for in the first flush of delight I thought I would this once get out of my habit of purely passive enjoyment, when I do really enjoy, and thoroughly justify my admiration-perhaps even, as a loyal fellow-craftsman should, try and find fault and do you some little good to be proud of hereafter!-but nothing comes of it all-so into me has it gone, and part of me has it become, this great living poetry of yours, not a flower of which but took root and grew .. oh, how different that is from lying to be dried and pressed flat and prized highly and put in a book with a proper account at top and bottom, and shut up and put away .. and the book called a “Flora,” besides! After all, I need not give up the thought of doing that, too, in time; because even now, talking with whoever is worthy, I can give a reason for my faith in one and another excellence, the fresh strange music, the affluent language, the exquisite pathos and true new brave thought-but in this addressing myself to you, your own self, and for the first time, my feeling rises altogether. I do, as I say, love these Books with all my heart-and I love you too: do you know I was once not very far from seeing .. really seeing you? Mr Kenyon said to me one morning “would you like to see Miss Barrett?”-then he went to announce me,-then he returned .. you were too unwell-and now it is years ago-and I feel as at some untoward passage in my travels-as if I had been close, so close, to some world’s-wonder in chapel or crypt, .. only a screen to push and I might have entered-but there was some slight .. so it now seems .. slight and just-sufficient bar to admission, and the half-opened door shut, and I went home my thousands of miles, and the sight was never to be! Well, these Poems were to be-and this true thankful joy and pride with which I feel myself.
The love letters between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett can be found here.
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