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Elizabeth Barrett Browning Bookmark Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

"If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love's sake only."

At the age of 38, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was internationally famous, far and away the most highly regarded woman poet of her day. She was also a total recluse. Mostly bed-ridden since her early twenties due to a mysterious, she refused to be seen by any but a close circle of family and friends.

Then, in January 1845, she received a letter from Robert Browning, a poet six years her junior. In it he wrote: "...I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart - and I love you." Thus began a passionate correspondence: 575 letters from Browning alone in 20 months, along with near-daily visits. In September 1846, against her father's wishes, they eloped to Italy.

In 1850, Elizabeth published Sonnets from the Portuguese, and included in it the cycle of sonnets she'd written for Browning during their courtship. The title was taken from Browning's nickname for her-"my Portuguese" - after her dark complexion. So great was the acclaim for the book, she was considered to replace Wordsworth as the poet laureate of England. Although Tennyson was chosen, the book would forever cement her reputation as one of the great poets of the English language. .
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
(1806-1861)