Poet. Born Elizabeth Moulton-Barrett at Cohnadatia Hall in Durham, England, her family's wealth from Jamaican sugar plantations gave Elizabeth and her eleven brothers and sisters a privileged childhood. In her teens, she contracted a lung disorder, the nature of which is still speculated upon, and was treated as an invalid by her parents. In 1826 she published ‘An Essay on Mind and Other Poems' anonymously. After her father suffered financial losses which forced him to sell the family estate, the family moved three times between 1832 and 1837, settling at Wimpole Street in London, England. In 1838, ‘The Seraphim and Other Poems' was the first volume of Elizabeth's poetry published under her own name. Shortly thereafter, the death of her favorite brother by drowning reduced her to an invalid and a recluse, spending most of the next five years in her bedroom. In 1844 she published ‘Poems' which catapulted her into the role one of the most popular writers in Britain. Robert Browning wrote her what amounted to a fan letter and his interest in her work progressed to a personal interest. Their courtship and marriage were carried out in secret due to her father's disapproval. After a private marriage in 1846 and a clandestine departure from her home, she accompanied her new husband to Italy. The union proved a very happy one for both, though it was never forgiven by her father, who disinherited her. She and her husband settled in Florence, Italy, and there she wrote ‘The Sonnets from the Portuguese', the history of her own love story, in 1850. ‘Casa Guidi Windows' appeared in 1851, often considered her strongest work. ‘Aurora Leigh' was published in 1856. In 1860 she issued a collected edition of her poems under the title ‘Poems before Congress'. On William Wordsworth's death in 1850, she had been seriously considered for the Laureateship, which ultimately went to Alfred Lord Tennyson. Although Elizabeth's health issues have been speculated upon endlessly, the opium which was repeatedly prescribed undoubtedly made her problems worse. Her health faltered and began to fail; she gradually lost strength, and died in her husband's arms in 1861.
Bio by: Iola