Wednesday, 7 May 2014

7 May in literature

On 7 May 1812 poet Robert Browning is born in Camberwell, outside London.

Browning attended boarding school and studied for a short time at the University of London before returning to his parents' home where he had private tutors. Both parents were interested in literature and the arts and encouraged both Browning, and his sister Sarianna, in this field. Browning read a lot, and by age fourteen he was fluent in French, Greek, Italian and Latin. He devoted his time to poetry and refused a formal career. He stayed at home until he was 34 and was dependent on his family for finance. His father also sponsored the publications of his son's poems.

His poetry was criticised so he abandoned it and continued to write drama. This was neither very successful but he developed a form for dramatic monologue which he transferred later on to his poetry. Among all the bad critics, there was one positive, from the respected poet Elizabeth Barrett. Browning wrote to thank her and asked for a meeting. They met and fell in love. Since Elizabeth was living with a tyrannical father the couple eloped to Italy in 1846 where they lived happily for 15 years. They got a son during this time and wrote poetry. Elizabeth was the more famous poet in those days. She died in 1861 and Browning returned to England with their son.

In England, Browning became a very social person and dined out with his friends most of the time. His poetry had finally reached recognition. His master of dramatic verse and dramatic monologues has made him one of the most important Victorian poets.

Robert Browning died on 12 December 1889 at his son's home Ca' Rezzonico in Venice. He is buried in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, next to Alfred Tennyson.

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