According to Robert Bernard Martin,

Elizabeth Barrett Browning has always been one of those writers who act like a polished surface to reflect the concerns of those who write about them. . . . Part of the popular appeal her life has always exerted comes from its evocation of half-recognized motifs from legends, fairy-tales and other fictions; Sleeping Beauty, Juliet and Cinderella all jostle elbows in most accounts of her elopement and marriage, and when Browning reordered them in The Ring and the Book, he found cognates in the stories of Andromeda and Perseus, of St George and the princess victim, even — somewhat embarrassingly — in the flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. Probably a bit too pat for modern readers, particularly when Elizabeth seems to have cast herself in the leading roles. Not the least of their wishfulfilling quality has been that these youthful adventures all happened to a middle-aged woman.


Martin, Robert Bernard. "A Valetudinarian and Her Values," Times Literary Supplement (August 18-25, 1988): 900.

Last modified 1998