Classic Poetry from Passions in Poetry
Robert Browning 1812 - 1889
English poet and dramatist, whose most ambitious work was The Ring and the Book (1868-69): a verse narrative in ten parts based on a real murder trial conducted in Florence. He also wrote and published Pauline (1833), Paracelsus (1835), Sordello (1840) and Strafford (1837), a play that ran for only five nights. Two other plays A Blot in the Scutcheon (1843) and Colombe's Birthday (1843), were also performed briefly in 1843 and 1853, after which Browning wrote mainly dramatic poetry. He published a series of eight volumes of verse, under the title Bells and Pomegranates, between 1841 and 1846. After his marriage to the poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning in 1846, Browning's most important works, along with The Ring and the Book, were Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day (1850), an exploration of worship; a volume of fifty poems entitled Men and Women (1850) and Dramatis Personae (1854). The influence of his handling of diction and the monologue form is perhaps to be noted in such twentieth century poets as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot.
The son of Robert Browning, a Bank of England clerk, and Sarah Anna Wiedemann, of Scottish-German descent, Browning received little formal education. His learning was gleaned mainly from his Father's library at home in Camberwell, South London, where he learnt something, with his Father's help, of Latin and Greek and also read Shelly, Byron and Keats. Though he attended lectures at the University of London in 1828, Browning left after only one session.
Apart from a visit to St Petersburg in 1834 and two visits to Italy in 1838 and 1844, Browning lived with his parents in London until his marriage of 1846. It was during this period that most of the plays and the earlier poems were written and, excepting Strafford, published at his family's expense.
After the secretly held marriage to Elizabeth Barrett in 1846, Browning and wife travelled to Italy where they were, apart from brief holidays in France and England, to spend most of their married life together. In 1849 the couple had a son, Robert 'Pen' Browning, and it was Elizabeth who, during this time, was most productive. After her death in 1861, Browning returned to England with his son, where he achieved popular acclaim for his Dramatis Personae and The Ring and the Book.
He spent the remainder of his life, excepting holidays in France, Scotland, Italy and Switzerland, in London where he wrote a number of dramatic poems, the two series of Dramatic Idylls (1879,1880) and poems on primarily classical subjects: Balaustion's Adventure (1871) and Aristophone's Apology (1875).
He died in Venice whilst holidaying in 1889 and was buried at Westminster Abbey.