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Pen Portraits-Robert Browning
Robert Browning (1812-1889) Largely taught at home his genius had to find a clear direction. In the 1830s switching from verse drama he settled on dramatic monologue. His real talents lay in taking a single character and allowing him to discover himself to us by revealing more of himself in his speeches and as a result in Paracelsus (1835) we see him as a poet sure of his genius. It got encouraging reviews but the difficulty and obscurity of his long poem Sordello (1840) turned the critics against him, and for many years they continued to complain of obscurity even in his shorter, more accessible lyrics. Perhaps the pitfall lay in his mode of education as self taught and range of scholarship he acquired had overshot those of his reading public. In 1845 his encounter with Elizabeth Barrett at her father’s place at Wimpole Street was remarkable. Although she was an invalid and very much under the control of a domineering father, the two married in September 1846 and a few days later eloped to Italy, where they lived until her death in 1861. The years in Florence were among the happiest for both of them. Her love for him was demonstrated in the Sonnets from the Portugese, and to her he dedicated Men and Women, which contains his best poetry. Public sympathy for him after her death (she was a much more popular poet during their lifetimes) surely helped the critical reception of his Collected Poems (1862) and Dramatis Personae (1863). The Ring and the Book (1868-9). In his day he was ranked with Tennyson as the foremost poet.
Although he lived and wrote actively for another twenty years, the late ’60s were the peak of his career. His influence continued to grow, however, and finally lead to the founding of the Browning Society in 1881. He died in 1889, on the same day that his final volume of verse, Asolando, was published. He is buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.(ack:www.victorianweb.org)

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