1806 Born Elizabeth Barrett Moulton-Barrett at Coxhoe Hall, County Durham. She is the oldest of twelve children. Her parents are Edward Moulton-Barrett, a country gentleman, and Mary Graham Clarke Moulton-Barrett.

1809 Family relocates to Hope End, a country estate in Herefordshire. Begins writing poems within the next five years.

1818 Probable date of her narrative poem The Battle of Marathon.

1820 Elizabeth's father gets Battle of Marathon printed; Her family will often support her literary aspirations in this manner.

1821 Stricken by illness, Elizabeth takes opium by medical prescription, developing a lifelong habit.

1825 "The Rose and Zephyr," her first published work, is published in Literary Gazette.

1826 Publishes first volume of poems, An Essay on Mind, anonomously. It draws no critical attention.

1828 Mother dies. Elizabeth studies classical literature under H. S. Boyd.

1832 Dwindling financial resources force the family's move to a modest home in Sidmouth, Devonshire.

1833 Publishes Prometheus Bound, a translation from Greek playwright Aeschylus, again anonymously. Again, it receives no critical notice.

1835 Family moves to a house at Gloucester Place in London.

1837 Family settles at 50 Wimpole Street in London. Elizabeth bursts a blood vessel, affecting her lungs. This is the first serious illness in a long period of invalidism.

1838 Publishes The Seraphim and Other Poems under her own name; it is favorably reviewed and sells well. This marks the start of her successful literary carreer. Though constrained by illness, she corresponds with prominent members of the literary world, including Wordsworth, Carlyle, and Edgar Allan Poe. Moves to Torquay, on the seaside, for her health. She is accompanied by different family members at different times; her favorite brother, Edward ("Bro"), is her primary companion. Her uncle dies, leaving Elizabeth a legacy that secures her financially.

1840 "Bro" drowns in Babbacombe Bay off Torquay, impacting Elizabeth greatly. She writes "De Profundis," articulating her grief; it will be published posthumously. Additionally, she writes "Queen Annelida and False Arcite" for an edition of poetry by Chaucer and "The Cry of the Children," attacking child labor.

1841 Returns to the family home in London, still an invalid. Works on book reviews, articles, and translations.

1842 Publishes "The Cry of the Children." A popular work, it helps bring about the regulation of child labor.

1844 Publishes a two-volume edition of Poems. An American edition is published, with an introduction by Poe.

1845 Robert Browning, after sending a complimentary letter, visits Elizabeth at Wimpole Street home. The next day, he writes her a declaration of love. Her father, however, opposes the marriage of any of his children. Elizabeth begins work on a series of love poems, Sonnets from the Portuguese, named from Robert Browning's pet name for her, "the Portuguese."

1846 Robert Browning and Elizabeth secretly marry in London. They leave England to travel through Europe, then settle in Florence. Elizabeth's health improves, and the marriage is very happy.

1848 Elizabeth becomes involved with the cause of Italian political unity. Her romantic approach to politics is decidedly unrealistic, however.

1849 A son is born: Robert Barrett-Browning ("Pen").

1850 Publishes a new two-volume edition of Poems that includes the Sonnets from the Portuguese. Receives mention in the literary journal The Athenaeum as the leading candidate to succeed Wordsworth as poet laureate. ( Tennyson was to receive the laureateship.)

1851 Publishes Casa Guidi Windows, a work about Italy, including political reflections.

1857 Her father dies, still unreconciled to Elizabeth and her marriage. Publishes Aurora Leigh, a "novel in verse." Highly popular, it wins critical acclaim. It also draws attacks for its sympathetic treatment of a woman as independent, an artist, and an unmarried mother.

1860 Publishes Poems Before Congress, a collection of political poems. It is not well-received. Her health declines.

1861 Elizabeth Barrett Browning dies in Florence. She is buried there, in the Protestant cemetary.

1862 Posthumous publication of Last Poems, including "De Profundis."

(Based in part on McGraw-Hill, pp. 152-154; thanks to Rita Patteson, Curator of Manuscripts at the Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, for her corrections.)


Victorian Overview E. B. Browning Aurora Leigh

Last modified 1988