Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry rarely receives the same critical attention given that of her husband Robert. The fourth edition of the Norton Anthology of English Literature (1979) devotes two pages to her work, eighty-five to his. The 1986 edition of the New Oxford Anthology of Victorian Verse includes only four of her poems and an excerpt from Aurora Leigh (1856). Seventy-six years passed between the 1902 edition of this title, often considered Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s masterpiece, and its next reprinting.
Her work was not always slighted thus. When Robert Browning came to visit her at 50 Wimpole Street on Tuesday, May 20, 1845, she was the more famous of the two. For her fourteenth birthday, March 6, 1820, her father had privately printed fifty copies of her first book of poetry, The Battle of Marathon. Its subject matter revealed her interest in classical literature (she studied Greek first with her brother Edward’s tutor, and later she became so fluent as to translate Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound). In its form, this early publication demonstrated a familiarity with eighteenth century verse—it is essentially an imitation of Alexander Pope—and its very creation indicated Elizabeth’s devotion to writing. The next year, she published in the New Monthly Magazine, and subsequently four more volumes of her work appeared, culminating in the well-received 1844 edition. Robert had...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Contemporary Review. CCLIII, July, 1988, p.53.
Guardian Weekly CXXXIX, July 10, 1988, p.26.
Kirkus Reviews. LVI, December 1, 1988, p.1715.
Listener. CXIX, June 23, 1988, p.32.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIV, May 7, 1989, p.32.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIV, December 16, 1988, p.65.
The Spectator. CCLXI, July 23, 1988, p.26.
The Times Literary Supplement. August 19, 1988, p.829.
The Washington Post Book World. XIX, February 19, 1989, p.6.
(The entire section is 52 words.)