Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
As a young man, Robert Browning was tutored at his prosperous family’s home near London. He spent much of a sheltered adolescence reading eagerly and eclectically in the fine library there, absorbing philosophical, artistic, and historical lore that would later emerge—sometimes rather obscurely—in his plays and poems. Devoted always to a literary career, Browning lived for many years dependent on his indulgent parents. They exerted a deep personal influence: the father intellectually, the mother religiously. In literature, the works and example of Percy Bysshe Shelley were Browning’s first and most enduring inspiration, though in drama itself the constant model would be, wisely and otherwise, William Shakespeare. The privately published verse and plays of Browning’s early maturity were eccentric and poorly received. Most of the drama in particular was ill-suited to theatrical production, and in disappointment, he turned increasingly to a new type of poetry, the dramatic monologue, in order to fuse the variousness and objectivity of plays with the subtle effects of poems. Yet even after 1846, when elopement and marriage crowned his long, ardent courtship of Elizabeth Barrett Browning , she was still the better-known writer of the two. The blithe years of his wedded life were spent mostly in Italy, where Browning’s fascination with the rich and enigmatic sociocultural heritage of the Mediterranean bloomed and reflected itself in the great new poems...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: British, Irish, & Commonwealth Poets)
Robert Browning was born in a London suburb, Camberwell, on May 7, 1812. His family could be characterized as comfortably middle class, politically liberal, and dissenting in religion. His father, a prosperous employee of the Bank of England, had collected a large private library. The family was dominated to some extent by the powerful personality of Browning’s mother, the former Sarah Anna Wiedemann from Dundee, who was deeply committed to the Congregational religion. At a time when Oxford and Cambridge were religious institutions, admitting only Anglican students, Browning attended the newly instituted University of London for a short time in 1828, but he did not complete a coherent course of study. Browning was largely self-taught, and like many autodidacts, he had difficulty appreciating how deeply learned he was and judging what his more conventionally educated audience would be likely to know. His poetry bristles with allusions and historical references that require a specialist’s explanation.
As a boy, Browning showed remarkable enthusiasm for the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Such an admiration is particularly surprising in the light of their divergent beliefs. Shelley was antireligious, especially in his youth, and was in fact expelled from his university for publishing a pamphlet on the necessity of atheism, while Browning’s mother was firmly committed to a fundamentalist and emotional Christian belief. In any event, throughout his life,...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Robert Browning was born on May 7, 1812, in Camberwell, a suburb of London, England, to Robert and Sara Anna Wiedemann Browning. His father was a senior clerk in the Bank of England and a conservative, unambitious, bookish man closer in temperament to a scholar than to a businessman. His mother, a Scottish gentlewoman, reared her son to love the Church, music, gardening, and nature. Growing up in the urban middle class, Browning had one sister, to whom he paid a lifelong devotion. From 1820 to 1826, he attended a boarding school. In 1828, he enrolled in the recently opened University of London, but he withdrew after only a few months. His main education came from tutors and his father’s ample library.
In the view of many, Browning’s young adulthood was an essentially irresponsible time, as he preferred to stay at home rather than work or attend school. At home, he read Alexander Pope’s The Iliad of Homer (1715-1720), the Romantic poets in general, and a favorite who became his idol, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Around 1824, Browning wrote “Incondita,” a volume of poetry in imitation of George Gordon, Lord Byron. When his parents could not get the manuscript published, he destroyed it. Only two poems from this collection have survived.
Thus, Browning’s occupation became that of poet. His whole family seemed to indulge...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Robert Browning stands as the transitional English poet between the supreme subjectivity of the Romantics and the subtleties of modern poetry. He masterfully showed the dramatic and psychological possibilities of verse. In the Victorian era of sexual reticence and profound doubt, he demonstrated the power of human passion and the prevalence of the human spirit.
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
The poet Robert Browning was born May 7, 1812, in Camberwell, London, the son of a learned and genial Bank of England clerk. His father’s substantial library, notable for curious history, biography, and anecdote, became an important influence upon the future poet, as were his father’s instruction in languages and his mother’s Evangelical piety and love of music. Private schooling and a term at the University of London had comparatively little influence on a young man who felt himself destined to be a poet and was admirably prepared for it at home.
He came early under the influence of Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose techniques and political ideas remained with him somewhat longer than the religious radicalism which Browning repudiated in his earliest significant poem, Pauline. After this poem of personal confession, he turned to the “chronicling” of objective characters and the use of the dramatic techniques which were to remain his characteristic concerns.
The first poem of this dramatic kind was Paracelsus, published in 1835. The character examined was that of a historical person, the Renaissance scientist, who, as Browning represented him, came to know almost too late the nature of true love, without which knowledge is empty.
Turned to stage drama through his friendship with the actor Macready, Browning...
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Browning was born in 1812 in Camberwell, a suburb of London. His father, a bank clerk, had a 6000- volume book collection, from which Browning read widely. Most of Browning’s education came at home from his artistically inclined, nonconformist parents. It is believed he was proficient at reading and writing by age five and by age fourteen had learned Latin, Greek, and French. At ten, Browning attended Peckam School, where he remained for four years. In 1825, he received a volume of Percy Shelley’s poetry and was utterly taken with it, declaring himself a devotee of the poet. In 1828, Browning enrolled at the University of London but soon left, preferring to read and learn at his own pace.
In 1833, Browning’s first work, the long poem “Pauline,” was published anonymously. The dramatic poem “Paracelsus” appeared in 1835 to lukewarm reviews. “Porphyria’s Lover” was published a year later in a small monthly magazine and received scant attention. During the next few years, Browning wrote several unsuccessful plays and a difficult, obscure long poem, “Sordello.” From 1841 to 1846, he published a series of poems under the title Bells and Pomegranates, which were poorly received at the time but that include some of his best-known poems. Bells and Pomegranates includes the poems “Pippa Passes” and “My Last Duchess.” Dramatic Lyrics, in which “Porphyria’s Lover” appeared untitled with “Johannes...
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Browning was born in 1812 in Camberwell, a suburb of London, to middle-class parents. His father Robert Browning Sr., a clerk for the Bank of England, possessed cultivated artistic and literary tastes; his mother, Sarah Anne Wiedemann, was a devout Christian who pursued interests in music and nature. Browning was an intellectually precocious child who read at the age of five and composed his first poetry at six. He read widely from his father's extensive rare book collection, acquiring an abundant, if unsystematic, knowledge of a broad range of different literatures. At ten Browning began Peckam School, where he remained for four years. In 1828 he entered London University but quit school after less than a year, determined to pursue a career as a poet. Browning lived with his parents until 1846 and so was able to devote his entire energies to his art.
His literary career began in 1833 with the anonymous publication of the long poem Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession. This was followed by Paracelsus (1835) and Sordello (1840). All three of these early works met with mostly negative reviews. Beginning in 1841 Browning published a series of eight pamphlets collectively titled Bells and Pomegranates (1841-45). The series contains narrative poems, including Pippa Passes (1841); verse dramas; and two collections of shorter pieces, Dramatic Lyrics (1842) and Dramatic Romances and Lyrics (1845). Although Browning had to this point failed to win either popular or critical esteem, his work did gain the admiration of Elizabeth Barrett, who was a respected and popular poet in her own right. In 1844 she praised Browning in one of her works and received a grateful letter from him in response. They met the following year, fell in love, and in 1846, ignoring the disapproval of her father, eloped to Italy, where they spent the remainder of their life together. Their son Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning was born in 1849.
In Italy Browning continued to write, and though public success still eluded him, his works attracted increasing respect from critics. Following Elizabeth's death in 1861, he and his son returned to England. The appearance in 1864 of the collection Dramatis Personae finally brought Browning his first significant critical and popular acclaim. In 1868-69 he published The Ring and the Book, a series of dramatic monologues in which various speakers relate different perspectives on an actual seventeenth-century Italian murder case. Tremendously popular, The Ring and the Book firmly established Browning's reputation. From 1868 on, Browning was generally regarded as one of England's greatest living poets. He remained highly productive, and the publication of his Dramatic Idyls (1879-80) and other works brought him worldwide fame. In 1881 the Browning Society was established in London for the purpose of studying his poems. Near the end of his life he was the recipient of various honors, including a degree from Oxford University and an audience with Queen Victoria. Following his death in 1889 during a stay in Venice, he was buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.
IntroductionThe poet Robert Browning had a flair for the dramatic. Perhaps more than any other nineteenth-century writer, he was able to fuse the aesthetics of drama and poetry into a truly theatrical verse. In fact, some of his most famous poems (“Porphyria’s Lover” and “My Last Duchess”) are structured like dramatic monologues, and storytelling was also an integral part of Browning’s poetry, as evidenced by his verse adaptations of classic tales such as The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Although his reputation swung between popularity and obscurity during his lifetime, his works are now considered classics and have influenced writers as diverse as T. S. Eliot and Stephen King, whose epic Dark Tower series was even inspired by one of Browning’s poems. Take a bow, Robert.
- Robert Browning was married to the poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who wrote the famous sonnet beginning, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
- Although a British citizen, Browning spent nearly a fourth of his life (and writing career) abroad in Italy. Its culture was incredibly influential upon his work. “Italy was my university,” he would often say.
- Browning’s most popular work during his lifetime was the dramatic poem The Ring and the Book, which comprises an astonishing 20,000 lines.
- Browning died on the same day that Asolando, his final volume of verse, was published—December 12, 1889.
- Though Browning has influenced countless poets in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, perhaps his most obscure connection is to the film remake of Get Carter, starring Sylvester Stallone. The movie opens with a quote from Browning\'s The Ring and the Book.
A Blot in the 'Scutcheon - Literary Characters
Critical Survey of Drama
Robert Browning - Critical Survey of Poetry
Robert Browning Criticism
The Ring and the Book - Literary Characters
The Ring and the Book Criticism