Who was Elizabeth Browning? Google Doodle celebrates 208th anniversary of Victorian poet

 

Google's latest Doodle is a tribute to the Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning who was born 208 years ago in County Durham.

Browning would become one of the most renowned poets of the era, gaining popularity in Britain and the United States.

She began composing poetry at the age of six, her work compiled by her mother and published by her wealthy father. Years spent recovering from a riding accident at the age of 15 allowed her the time to write poetry, but also resulted in a life long addiction to laudanum, which contributed to her weak health.

Browning's first volume of poetry written as an adult, The Seraphim and Other Poems (1838), ensured her reputation as the period's most respected poetess, and she was even considered as a possible successor to William Wordsworth as Poet Laureate after his death in 1850.

Despite her father forbidding any of his 12 children to marry, Browning began a secret courtship with the writer Robert Browning. They married in private and had a son. This situation contributed to an improvement in her health, but she was disinherited by her father and rejected by her brothers.

 

These struggles made Browning a champion for the oppressed and she vigorously campaigned for the abolition of slavery and child labour reforms.

As the lung disease she contracted in her twenties worsened she moved to Italy, visiting Florence, Siena and Rome, where she died in the arms of her husband in 1861.

Read more: Elizabeth Barrett Browning's top five poems
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