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Robert Browning

Photogravure of Robert John Browning in 1865
Born 7 May 1812 (1812-05-07)
Camberwell, London England
Died 12 December 1889 (1889-12-13) (aged 77)
Venice, Italy
Occupation Poet
Notable work(s) The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Signature

Robert Browning (7 May 1812 – 12 December 1889) was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.

Contents

Early years

Browning was born in Camberwell, a suburb of London, England, the first son of Robert and Sarah Anna Browning. His father was a well-paid clerk for the Bank of England.

Browning’s paternal grandfather was a wealthy slave owner in St Kitts, West Indies, but Browning’s father was an abolitionist. Browning's father had been sent to the West Indies to work on a sugar plantation. Revolted by the slavery there, he returned to England. Browning’s mother was a musician. He had one sister, Sarianna. It is rumoured that Browning's grandmother, Margaret Tittle, was a Jamaican-born mulatto who had inherited a plantation in St Kitts.

Robert's father amassed a library of around 6,000 books, many of them rare. Thus, Robert was raised in a household of significant literary resources. His mother, to whom he was very close, was a devout nonconformist as well as a talented musician. His younger sister, Sarianna, also gifted, became her brother's companion in his later years. His father encouraged his interest in literature and the arts.

By twelve, Browning had written a book of poetry which he later destroyed when no publisher could be found. After attending several private schools, he began to be educated by a tutor, having demonstrated a strong dislike for institutionalized education.

Browning was a good student, and by the age of fourteen he was fluent in French, Greek, Italian and Latin. He became a great admirer of the Romantic poets, especially Shelley. Following the precedent of Shelley, Browning became an atheist and vegetarian, both of which later he gave up. At the age of sixteen, he attended University College London but left after his first year. His mother’s staunch evangelical faith prevented his studying at either Oxford University or Cambridge University, both then open only to members of the Church of England. He had substantial musical ability and composed arrangements of various songs.

Middle life

In 1845, Browning met Elizabeth Barrett, who lived as a semi-invalid in her father's house in Wimpole Street. Gradually a significant romance developed between them, leading to their secret marriage and flight on September 12, 1846. The marriage was initially secret because Elizabeth's father disapproved of marriage for any of his children. From the time of their marriage, the Brownings lived in Italy, first in Pisa, and then, within a year, finding an apartment in Florence at Casa Guidi (now a museum to their memory).

The Pied Piper leads the children out of Hamelin. Illustration by Kate Greenaway to the Robert Browning version of the tale.

Their only child, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning, nicknamed "Penini" or "Pen", was born in 1849. In these years Browning was fascinated by and learned hugely from the art and atmosphere of Italy. He would, in later life, say that 'Italy was my university'. Browning also bought a home in Asolo, in the Veneto outside Venice, and in a cruel irony he died on the day that the Town Council approved the purchase.[1] His wife died in 1861.

Browning's poetry was known to the cognoscenti from fairly early on in his life, but he remained relatively obscure as a poet till his middle age. (In the middle of the century, Tennyson was much better known). In Florence he worked on the poems that eventually comprised his two-volume Men and Women, for which he is now well known; in 1855, however, when these were published, they made little impact. It was only after his wife's death, in 1861, when he returned to England and became part of the London literary scene, that his reputation started to take off. In 1868, after five years work, he completed and published the long blank-verse poem The Ring and the Book, and finally achieved really significant recognition. Based on a convoluted murder-case from 1690s Rome, the poem is composed of twelve books, essentially ten lengthy dramatic poems narrated by the various characters in the story, showing their individual perspectives on events, bookended by an introduction and conclusion by Browning himself. Extraordinarily long even by Browning's own standards (over twenty thousand lines), The Ring and the Book was the poet's most ambitious project and has been hailed as a tour de force of dramatic poetry. Published separately in four volumes from November 1868 through to February 1869, the poem was a huge success both commercially and critically, and finally brought Browning the renown he had sought and deserved for nearly forty years.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

1882 caricature from Punch Magazine reading: "The Ring and The Bookmaker from Red Cotton Nightcap country"

The courtship and marriage between Robert Browning and Elizabeth were carried out secretly. Six years his elder and an invalid, she could not believe that the vigorous and worldly Browning really loved her as much as he professed to, and her doubts are expressed in the Sonnets from the Portuguese, which she wrote over the next two years. Love conquered all, however, and, after a private marriage at St Marylebone Parish Church, Browning imitated his hero Shelley by spiriting his beloved off to Italy in August 1846, which became her home almost continuously until her death. Elizabeth's loyal nurse, Wilson, who witnessed the marriage at the church, accompanied the couple to Italy and became at service to them.

Mr. Barrett disinherited Elizabeth, as he did for each of his children who married: “The Mrs. Browning of popular imagination was a sweet, innocent young woman who suffered endless cruelties at the hands of a tyrannical papa but who nonetheless had the good fortune to fall in love with a dashing and handsome poet named Robert Browning. She finally escaped the dungeon of Wimpole Street, eloped to Italy, and lived happily ever after.”[2]

As Elizabeth had inherited some money of her own, the couple were reasonably comfortable in Italy, and their relationship together was content. The Brownings were well respected in Italy and they would be asked for autographs or stopped by people because of their celebrity. Elizabeth grew stronger, and, in 1849, at the age of 43, she gave birth to a son, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning, whom they called Pen. Their son later married but had no legitimate children. It is rumoured that the areas around Florence are peopled with his descendants.

“Several Browning critics have suggested that the poet decided that he was an “objective poet” and then sought out a “subjective poet” in the hope that dialogue with her would enable him to be more successful.”[3]

At her husband's insistence, the second edition of Elizabeth’s Poems included her love sonnets; these increased her popularity and high critical regard so that she cemented her position as favourite Victorian poetess. Upon William Wordsworth's death in 1850, she was a serious contender to become Poet Laureate, but the position went to Tennyson.

Late Life

In the remaining years of his life he traveled extensively. Browning's later work has been undergoing a major critical re-evaluation in recent years, and much of it remains of interest for its poetic quality and psychological insight. After a series of long poems published in the early 1870s, of which Fifine at the Fair and Red Cotton Night-Cap Country were the best-received, Browning again turned to shorter poems. The volume Pacchiarotto, and How He Worked in Distemper included a spiteful attack against Browning's critics, especially the later Poet Laureate Alfred Austin.

According to some reports Browning became romantically involved with Lady Ashburton, but did not re-marry. In 1878, he returned to Italy for the first time in the seventeen years since Elizabeth's death, and returned there on several occasions.

Browning after death.

The Browning Society was formed for the appreciation of his works in 1881.

In 1887, Browning produced the major work of his later years, Parleyings with Certain People of Importance In Their Day. It finally presented the poet speaking in his own voice, engaging in a series of dialogues with long-forgotten figures of literary, artistic, and philosophic history. Once more, the Victorian public was baffled by this, and Browning returned to the short, concise lyric for his last volume, Asolando (1889).

He died at his son's home Ca' Rezzonico in Venice on 12 December 1889, the same day Asolando was published, and was buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey; his grave now lies immediately adjacent to that of Alfred Tennyson.

Browning's poetic style

Browning’s fame today rests mainly on his dramatic monologues, in which the words not only convey setting and action but also reveal the speaker’s character. Unlike a soliloquy, the meaning in a Browning dramatic monologue is not what the speaker directly reveals but what he inadvertently "gives away" about himself in the process of rationalizing past actions, or "special-pleading" his case to a silent auditor in the poem. Rather than thinking out loud, the character composes a self-defense which the reader, as "juror," is challenged to see through. Browning chooses some of the most debased, extreme and even criminally psychotic characters, no doubt for the challenge of building a sympathetic case for a character who doesn't deserve one and to cause the reader to squirm at the temptation to acquit a character who may be a homicidal psychopath. One of his more sensational dramatic monologues is Porphyria's Lover. The opening lines provide a sinister setting for the macabre events that follow. It is apparent that the speaker is insane, as he strangles his lover with her own hair to try and preserve for ever the moment of perfect love she has shown him.

Yet it is by carefully reading the far more sophisticated and cultivated rhetoric of the aristocratic and civilized Duke of My Last Duchess, perhaps the most frequently cited example of the poet's dramatic monologue form, that the attentive reader discovers the most horrific example of a mind totally mad despite its eloquence in expressing itself. The duchess, we learn, was murdered not because of infidelity, not because of a lack of gratitude for her position, and not, finally, because of the simple pleasures she took in common everyday occurrences. She is reduced to an object d'art in the Duke's collection of paintings and statues because the Duke equates his instructing her to behave like a duchess with "stooping," an action of which his megalomaniacal pride is incapable. In other monologues, such as Fra Lippo Lippi, Browning takes an ostensibly unsavory or immoral character and challenges us to discover the goodness, or life-affirming qualities, that often put the speaker's contemporaneous judges to shame. In The Ring and the Book Browning writes an epic-length poem in which he justifies the ways of God to humanity through twelve extended blank verse monologues spoken by the principals in a trial about a murder. These monologues greatly influenced many later poets, including T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, the latter singling out in his Cantos Browning's convoluted psychological poem Sordello about a frustrated 13-century troubadour, as the poem he must work to distance himself from.

Ironically, Browning’s style, which seemed modern and experimental to Victorian readers, owes much to his love of the seventeenth century poems of John Donne with their abrupt openings, colloquial phrasing and irregular rhythms. But he remains too much the prophet-poet and descendant of Percy Shelley to settle for the conceits, puns, and verbal play of the Metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century. His is a modern sensibility, all too aware of the arguments against the vulnerable position of one of his simple characters, who recites: "God's in His Heaven; All's right with the world." Browning endorses such a position because he sees an immanent deity that, far from remaining in a transcendent heaven, is indivisible from temporal process, assuring that in the fullness of theological time there is ample cause for celebrating life.

History of sound recording

Browning's voice was recorded with an Edison cylinder phonograph on a white wax cylinder, at a dinner party on April 7, 1889, at the home of artist Rudolf Lehmann, by Edison's British representative, George Gouraud. In the recording, which still exists, Browning recites part of "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix" (including apologizing when he forgets the words).[4] When the recording was played in 1890 on the anniversary of his death, at a gathering of his admirers, it was said to be the first time anyone's voice "had been heard from beyond the grave."[5][6]

Complete list of works

Pop culture

  • The Wings of Fire Orchestra's 2nd album, Prospice, is based on the Robert Browning poem of the same name.
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower (series) of novels is largely influenced by Browning's poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.
  • Rock band Queen quoted lines "and their dogs outran our fallow deer, and honey-bees had lost their stings, and horses were born with eagles' wings" in the song My Fairy King (1973) directly from the book 'The Pied Piper Of Hamlin'.
  • The protagonists of Robert F. Young's 1957 science fiction short story Your ghost will walk... are two androids programmed with the personalities of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, Nerv's organization Logo is half a fig leaf covering its name, with the motto "God's In His Heaven... All's Right With The World" forming the quarter circle on the bottom. The motto comes from Robert Browning's poem Pippa Passes.
  • John Lennon's "Grow Old With Me", which later appeared on the posthumous album Milk and Honey, is based on, and features, Robert Browning's quote, "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be." It was later covered by The Postal Service and included in the compilation album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.

In the sixth season episode of Frasier "Good Grief," Frasier Crane is seen composing an operetta about the lives of Robert and Elizabeth Browning.

Notes

  1. ^ Barrett Browning Dies at Asolo, Italy; Artist, son of the Poets, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, obituary, The New York Times, 9 July 1912
  2. ^ Peterson, William S. Sonnets From The Portuguese. Massachusetts: Barre Publishing, 1977.
  3. ^ Pollock, Mary Sanders. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning: A Creative Partnership. England: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2003.
  4. ^ [1] Poetry Archive, retrieved May 2, 2009
  5. ^ Kreilkamp, Ivan, "Voice and the Victorian storyteller." Cambridge University Press, 2005, page 190. ISBN 0521851939, 9780521851930. Retrieved May 2, 2009
  6. ^ [2]"The Author," Volume 3, January-December 1891. Boston: The Writer Publishing Company. "Personal gossip about the writers-Browning." Page 8. Retrieved May 2, 2009.

References

  • DeVane, William Clyde. A Browning handbook. 2nd. Ed. (Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1955)
  • Drew, Philip. The poetry of Robert Browning: A critical introduction. (Methuen, 1970)
  • Hudson, Gertrude Reese. Robert Browning's literary life from first work to masterpiece. (Texas, 1992)
  • Karlin, Daniel. The courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. (Oxford, 1985)
  • Kelley, Philip et al. (Eds.) The Brownings' correspondence. 15 vols. to date. (Wedgestone, 1984-) (Complete letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, so far to 1849.)
  • Maynard, John. Browning's youth. (Harvard Univ. Press, 1977)
  • Chesterton, G.K. Robert Browning (1903)
  • Ryals, Clyde de L. The Life of Robert Browning: a Critical Biography. (Blackwell, 1993)
  • Markus, Julia. Dared and Done: the Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning (Bloomsbury, 1995)
  • John Woolford and Daniel Karlin. Robert Browning'. (Longman, 1996)
  • Martin Garrett, ed., Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning: Interviews and Recollections. (Macmillan, 2000)
  • Martin Garrett, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. (British Library Writers' Lives).(British Library, 2001)
  • Boyd Litzinger and Donald Smalley, eds. Robert Browning: the Critical Heritage. (Routledge, 1995)

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be...

Robert Browning (1812-05-071889-12-12) was an English poet and husband of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Contents

Sourced

  • Autumn wins you best by this its mute
    Appeal to sympathy for its decay.
    • Paracelsus, Part 1 (1835)
  • God is the perfect poet,
    Who in his person acts his own creations.
    • Paracelsus, Part 2
  • Strange secrets are let out by Death

Who blabs so oft the follies of this world.

    • Paracelsus, Part 2, l. 112
  • And gain is gain, however small.
    • Paracelsus, Part 4
  • Deeds let escape are never to be done.
  • The year's at the spring,
    And day's at the morn;
    Morning's at seven;
    The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
    The lark's on the wing;
    The snail's on the thorn;
    God's in His heaven—
    All's right with the world!
  • Rats!
    They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
    And bit the babies in the cradles,
    And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
    And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
    Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
    Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
    And even spoiled the women's chats
    By drowning their speaking
    With shrieking and squeaking
    In fifty different sharps and flats.
  • Kiss me as if you made believe
    You were not sure, this eve,
    How my face, your flower, had pursed
    It's petals up.
    • "In a Gondola", line 49 (1842)
  • Fail I alone, in words and deeds?
    Why, all men strive and who succeeds?
    • "The Last Ride Together", line 67 (1859)
  • Stung by the splendour of a sudden thought.
    • "A Death in the Desert", line 59 (1864)
  • We loved, sir — used to meet:
    How sad and bad and mad it was —
    But then, how it was sweet!
    • "Confessions", line 34 (1864)
  • Who hears music feels his solitude
    Peopled at once.
    • Balaustion's Adventure, line 323 (1871)
  • Womanliness means only motherhood;
    All love begins and ends there.
    • The Inn Album (1875)
  • My sun sets to rise again.
    • "At the 'Mermaid'", line 80 (1876)
  • Never the time and the place
    And the loved one all together!
    • "Never the Time and the Place" (1883)
  • What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew.
    • "Jochanan Hakkadosh" (1883)
  • A minute's success pays the failure of years.
    • "Apollo and the Fates", line 210 (1887)
  • All the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag of one bee:
    All the wonder and wealth of the mine in the heart of one gem:
    In the core of one pearl all the shade and the shine of the sea:
    Breath and bloom, shade and shine, — wonder, wealth, and — how far above them —
Truth, that's brighter than gem,
Trust, that's purer than pearl, —
Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe, — all were for me
In the kiss of one girl.
  • "Summum Bonum" (1889)
  • The moment eternal - just that and no more -
    When ecstasy's utmost we clutch at the core
    While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!
    • "Now", line 12 (1889)
  • One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
    Never doubted clouds would break,
    Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
    Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
    Sleep to wake.
    • Asolando, "Epilogue" (1889)

Dramatic Romances and Lyrics (1845)

  • What's a man's age? He must hurry more, that's all;
    Cram in a day, what his youth took a year to hold:
    • "The Flight of the Duchess", line 881
  • Oh, to be in England
    Now that April's there.
    • "Home-Thoughts, from Abroad", line 1
  • That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
    Lest you should think he never could recapture
    The first fine careless rapture!
    • "Home-Thoughts, from Abroad", line 14
  • How good is man's life, the mere living!
    How fit to employ
    All the heart and the soul and the senses
    Forever in joy!
    • "Saul"
  • 'Tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!
    • "Saul"

Men and Women (1855)

  • I do what many dream of, all their lives,
    --Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do,
    And fail in doing.
    I could count twenty such
    On twice your fingers, and not leave this town,
    Who strive--you don't know how the others strive
    To paint a little thing like that you smeared
    Carelessly passing with your robes afloat--
    Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
    (I know his name, no matter)--so much less!
    Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.

    There burns a truer light of God in them,
    In their vexed beating stuffed and stopped-up brain,
    Heart, or whate'er else, than goes on to prompt
    This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand of mine.
  • Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
    Or what's a heaven for?
    • "Andrea del Sarto", line 98
  • If you get simple beauty and naught else,
    You get about the best thing God invents.
    • "Fra Lippo Lippi", line 217
  • You should not take a fellow eight years old
    And make him swear to never kiss the girls.
    • "Fra Lippo Lippi", line 224
  • I count life just a stuff
    To try the soul's strength on.
    • "In a Balcony", line 651
  • What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?
    • "A Toccata of Galuppi's", line 42
  • Progress, man’s distinctive mark alone,
    Not God’s, and not the beasts’: God is, they are,
    Man partly is and wholly hopes to be.
    • "De Gustibus", line 586
  • Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things.
    The honest thief, the tender murderer,
    The superstitious atheist.
    • "Bishop Blougram’s Apology", line 395
    • Cited by Graham Greene as the epigraph he would choose for his novels.

Rabbi Ben Ezra (from Dramatis Personae, 1864)

  • Grow old along with me!
    The best is yet to be,
    The last of life, for which the first was made:

    Our times are in his hand
    Who saith, "A whole I planned,
    Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"
    • Line 1
  • Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!
    Not for such hopes and fears
    Annulling youth's brief years,
    Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark!
    Rather I prize the doubt
    Low kinds exist without,
    Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.

    Poor vaunt of life indeed,
    Were man but formed to feed
    On joy, to solely seek and find and feast;
    Such feasting ended, then
    As sure an end to men.
    • Line 12
  • Let us cry, "All good things
    Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul!"
    • Line 70
  • Be there, for once and all,
    Severed great minds from small,
    Announced to each his station in the Past!

    Was I, the world arraigned,
    Were they, my soul disdained,
    Right? Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last!
    Now, who shall arbitrate?
    Ten men love what I hate,
    Shun what I follow, slight what I receive;
    Ten, who in ears and eyes
    Match me: we all surmise,
    They this thing, I that: whom shall my soul believe?
    • Line 121
  • All instincts immature,
    All purposes unsure,
    That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount:
    Thoughts hardly to be packed
    Into a narrow act,
    Fancies that broke through language and escaped;
    All I could never be,
    All, men ignored in me,
    This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.
    • Line 142
  • Fool! All that is, at all,
    Lasts ever, past recall;
    Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
    What entered into thee,
    That was, is, and shall be:
    Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.
    • Line 157
  • Look not thou down but up!
    To uses of a cup.
    • Line 175
  • Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what needst thou with earth's wheel?
    But I need, now as then,
    Thee, God, who mouldest men.
    • Line 180
  • So, take, and use thy work:
    Amend what flaws may lurk,
    What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim!
    My times be in thy hand!
    Perfect the cup as planned!
    Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!
    • Line 187

The Ring and the Book (1868-69)

  • O lyric Love, half-angel and half-bird
    And all a wonder and a wild desire.
    • Book 1, line 1391 (1868-69)
  • Go practise if you please
    With men and women: leave a child alone
    For Christ's particular love's sake!
    • Book 3, line 88
  • Faultless to a fault.
    • Book 9, line 1177
  • Of what I call God,
    And fools call Nature.
    • Book 10, line 1073
  • White shall not neutralize the black, nor good
    Compensate bad in man, absolve him so:
    Life’s business being just the terrible choice.
    • Book 10, line 1235
  • Inscribe all human effort with one word,
    Artistry's haunting curse, the Incomplete!
    • Book 11, line 1560

Unsourced

  • Love is energy of life.

About Robert Browning

  • He concentrated on the special souls of men; seeking God in a series of personal interviews.
    • G. K. Chesterton, The Victorian Age in Literature (1913) [University of Notre Dame Press, 1963], Ch. I: The Victorian Compromise and Its Enemies (p. 19)
  • He is called an optimist; but the word suggests a calculated contentment which was not in the least one of his vices. What he really was was a romantic. He offered the cosmos as an adventure rather than a scheme. He did not explain evil, far less explain it away: he enjoyed defying it. He was a troubadour even in theology and metaphysics: like the Jongleurs de Dieu of St. Francis. He may be said to have serenaded heaven with a guitar, and even, so to speak, tried to climb there with a rope ladder.
    • G. K. Chesterton, The Victorian Age in Literature (1913), Ch. III: The Great Victorian Poets (p. 89)

Misattributions

  • Like dogs in a wheel, birds in a cage, or squirrels in a chain, ambitious men still climb and climb, with great labor, and incessant anxiety, but never reach the top.
    • Sometimes ascribed to Robert Browning, this is in fact a misquotation from Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621): "They [i.e. ambitious men] may not cease, but as a dog in a wheel, a bird in a cage, or a squirrel in a chain, so Budaeus compares them; they climb and climb still, with much labour, but never make an end, never at the top."
  • Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns to be amused rather than shocked.
    • Not Browning, but a misquotation from Pearl Buck's China, Past and Present: "Ah well, perhaps one has to be very old before one learns how to be amused rather than shocked."

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Robert Browning
disambiguation
This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.


Robert Browning may refer to:

Author:

Works


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ROBERT BROWNING (1812-1889), English poet, was born at Camberwell, London, on the 7th of May 1812. He was the son of Robert Browning (1781-1866), who for fifty years was employed in the Bank of-England. Earlier Brownings had been settled in Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, and there is no ground for the statement that the family was partly of Jewish origin. The poet's mother was a daughter of William Wiedemann, a German who had settled in Dundee and married a Scottish wife. His parents had one other child, a daughter, Sarianna, born in 1814. They lived quietly in Camberwell. The elder Browning had a sufficient income and was indifferent to money-making. He had strong literary and artistic tastes. He was an ardent book collector, and so good a draughtsman that paternal authority alone had prevented him from adopting an artistic career. He had, like his son, a singular faculty for versifying, and helped the boy's early lessons by twisting the Latin grammar into grotesque rhymes. He lived, as his father had done, to be 84, with unbroken health. The younger Robert inherited, along with other characteristics, much of his father's vigour of constitution. From the mother, who had delicate health, he probably derived his excessive nervous irritability; and from her, too, came his passion for music. The family was united by the strongest mutual affection, and the parents erred, if anything, on the side of indulgence. Browning was sent to a school in the neighbourhood, but left it when fourteen, and had little other teaching. He had a French tutor for the next two years, and in his eighteenth year he attended some Greek lectures at the London University. At school he never won a prize, though it was more difficult to avoid than to win prizes. He was more conspicuous for the love of birds and beasts, which he always retained, than for any interest in his lessons. He rather despised his companions and made few friends. A precocious poetical capacity, however, showed itself in extra-scholastic ways. He made his schoolfellows act plays, partly written by himself. He had composed verses before he could write, and when twelve years old completed a volume of poems called Incondita. His parents tried unsuccessfully to find a publisher; but his verses were admired by Sarah Flower, afterwards Mrs Adams, a wellknown hymn-writer of the day, and by W. J. Fox, both of whom became valuable friends. A copy made by Miss Flower was in existence in 1871, but afterwards destroyed by the author. Browning had the run of his father's library, and acquired a very unusual amount of miscellaneous reading. Quarles' Emblems was an especial favourite; and besides the Elizabethan dramatists and standard English books, he had read all the works of Voltaire. Byron was his first master in poetry, but about the age of fourteen he fell in accidentally with Shelley and Keats. For Shelley in particular he conceived an enthusiatic admiration which lasted for many years, though it was qualified in his later life.

The more aggressive side of Browning's character was as yet the most prominent; and a self-willed lad, conscious of a growing ability, found himself cramped in Camberwell circles. He rejected the ordinary careers. He declined the offer of a clerkship in the Bank of England; and his father, who had found the occupation uncongenial, not only approved the refusal but cordially accepted the son's decision to take poetry for his profession. For good or evil, Browning had been left very much to his own guidance, and if his intellectual training suffered in some directions, the liberty permitted the development of his marked originality. The parental yoke, however, was too light to provoke rebellion. Browning's mental growth led to no violent breach with the creeds of his childhood. His parents became Dissenters in middle life, but often attended Anglican services; and Browning, though he abandoned the dogmas, continued to sympathize with the spirit of their creed. He never took a keen interest in the politics of the day, but cordially accepted the general position of contemporary Liberalism. His worship of Shelley did not mean an acceptance of his master's hostile attitude towards Christianity, still less did he revolt against the moral discipline under which he had been educated. He frequented literary and artistic circles, and was passionately fond of the theatre; but he was entirely free from a coarse Bohemianism, and never went to bed, we are told, without kissing his mother. He lived with his parents until his marriage. His mother lived till 1849, and his father till 1866, and his affectionate relations to both remained unaltered. Browning's first published poem, Pauline, appeared anonymously in 1833. He always regarded it as crude, and destroyed all the copies of this edition that came within his reach. It was only to avoid unauthorized reprints that he consented with reluctance to republishing it in the collected works of 1868. The indication of genius was recognized by W. J. Fox, who hailed it in the Monthly Repository as marking the advent of a true poet. Pauline contains an enthusiastic invocation of Shelley, whose influence upon its style and conception is strongly marked. It is the only one of Browning's works which can be regarded as imitative. In the winter of 1833 he went to St Petersburg on a visit to the Russian consul-general, Mr Benckhausen. There he wrote the earliest of his dramatic lyrics, " Porphyria's Lover " and " Johannes. Agricola." In the spring of 1834 he visited Italy for the first time, going to Venice and Asolo.

Browning's personality was fully revealed in his next considerable poems, Paracelsus (1835) and Sordello (1840). With Pauline,, however, they form a group. In an essay (prefixed to the spurious Shelley letters of 1851), Browning describes Shelley's poetry " as a sublime fragmentary essay towards a presentment. of the correspondency of the universe to Deity." The phrase describes his own view of the true functions of a poet, and Browning, having accepted the vocation, was meditating the qualifications which should fit him for his task. The hero of Pauline is in a morbid state of mind which endangers his fidelity to his duty. Paracelsus and Sordello are studies in the psychology of genius, illustrating its besetting temptations. Paracelsus fails from intellectual pride, not balanced by love of his kind, and from excessive ambition, which leads him to seek success by unworthy means. Sordello is a poet distracted between the demands of a dreamy imagination and the desire to utter the thoughts of mankind. He finally gives up poetry for practical politics, and gets into perplexities only to be solved by his death. Pauline might in some indefinite degree reflect Browning's own feelings, but in the later poems he adopts his characteristic method of speaking in a quasi-dramatic mood. They are, as he gave notice, " poems,. not dramas." The interest is not in the external events, but in the " development of a soul "; but they are observations of other men's souls, not direct revelations of his own. Paracelsus was based upon a study of the original narrative, and Sordello was a historical though a very indefinite person. The background of history is intentionally vague in both cases. There is one remarkable difference between them. The Paracelsus, though full of noble passages, is certainly diffuse. Browning heard that John Sterling had complained of its " verbosity," and tried to remedy this failing by the surgical expedient of cutting out the usual connecting words. Relative pronouns henceforth become. scarce in his poetry, and the grammatical construction often a matter of conjecture. Words are forcibly jammed together instead of being articulately combined. To the ordinary reader many passages in his later work are both crabbed and obscurer but the " obscurity " never afterwards reached the pitch of Sordello. It is due to the vagueness with which the story is rather hinted than told, as well as to the subtlety and intricacy of the psychological expositions. The subtlety and vigour of the thought are indeed surprising, and may justify the frequent comparisons to Shakespeare; and it abounds in descriptive passages of genuine poetry.

Still, Browning seems to have been misled by a fallacy. It was quite legitimate to subordinate the external incidents to the psychological development in which he was really interested, but to secure the subordination by making the incidents barely intelligible was not a logical consequence. We should not understand Hamlet's psychological peculiarities the better if we had to infer his family troubles from indirect hints. Browning gave more time to Sordello than to any other work, and perhaps had become so familiar with the story which he professed to tell that he failed to make allowance for his readers' difficulties. In any case it was not surprising that the ordinary reader should be puzzled and repelled, and the general recognition of his genius long delayed, by his reputation for obscurity. It might, however, be expected that he would make a more successful appeal to the public by purely dramatic work, in which he would have to limit his psychological speculation and to place his characters in plain situations. Paracelsus and Sordello show so great a power of reading character and appreciating subtler springs of conduct that its author clearly had one, at least, of the essential qualifications of a dramatist.

Before Sordello appeared Browning had tried his hand in this direction. He was encouraged by outward circumstances as well as by his natural bent. He was making friends and gaining some real appreciative admirers. John Forster had been greatly impressed by Paracelsus. Browning's love of the theatre had led to an introduction to Macready in the winter of 1835-1836; and Macready, who had been also impressed by Paracelsus, asked him for a play. Browning. consented and wrote Strafford, which was produced at Covent Garden in May 1837, Macready taking the principal part. Later dramas were King Victor and King Charles, published in 1842; The Return of the Druses and A Blot on the' Scutcheon (both in 1843), Colombe's Birthday (1844), Luria and A Soul's Tragedy (both in 1846), and the fragmentary In a Balcony (1853). Strafford succeeded fairly, though the defection of Vandenhoff, who took the part of Pym, stopped its run after the fifth performance. The Blot on the 'Scutcheon, produced by Macready as manager of Drury Lane on the 11th of February 1843, led to an unfortunate quarrel. Browning thought that Macready had felt unworthy jealousy of another actor, and had gratified his spite by an inadequate presentation of the play. He remonstrated indignantly and the friendship was broken off for years. Browning was disgusted by his experience of the annoyances of practical play-writing, though he was not altogether discouraged. The play had apparently such a moderate success as was possible under the conditions, and a similar modest result was attained by Colombe's Birthday, produced at Covent Garden on the 25th of April 1853. Browning, like other eminent writers of the day, failed to achieve the feat of attracting the British public by dramas of high literary aims, and soon gave up the attempt. It has been said by competent critics that some of the plays could be fitted for the stage by judicious adaptation. The Blot on the 'Scutcheon has a very clear and forcibly treated situation; and all the plays abound in passages of high poetic power. Like the poems, they deal with situations involving a moral probation of the characters, and often suggesting the ethical problems which always interested him. The speeches tend to become elaborate analyses of motive by the persons concerned, and try the patience of an average audience. For whatever reason, Browning, though he had given sufficient proofs of genius, had not found in these works the most appropriate mode of utterance.

The dramas, after Straf f ord, formed the greatest part of a series of pamphlets called Bells and Pomegranates, eight of which were issued from 1841 to 1846. The name, he explained, was intended to indicate an " alternation of poetry and thought." The first number contained the fanciful and characteristic Pippa Passes. The seventh, significantly named Dramatic Romances and Lyrics, contained some of his most striking shorter poems. In 1844 he contributed six poems, among which were " The Flight of the Duchess " and " The Bishop orders his Tomb at St Praxed's Church," to Hood's Magazine, in order to help Hood, then in his last illness. These poems take the special form in which Browning is unrivalled. He wrote very few lyrical poems of the ordinary kind purporting to give a direct expression of his own personal emotions. But, in the lyric which gives the essential sentiment of some impressive dramatic situation, he has rarely been approached. There is scarcely one of the poems published at this time which can be read without fixing itself at once in the memory as a forcible and pungent presentation of a characteristic mood. Their vigour and originality failed to overcome at once the presumption against the author of Sordello. Yet Browning was already known to and appreciated by such literary celebrities of the day as Talfourd, Leigh Hunt, Procter, Monckton Milnes, Carlyle and Landor. His fame began to spread among sympathetic readers. The Bells and Pomegranates attracted the rising school of " pre-Raphaelites," especially D. G. Rossetti, who guessed the authorship of the anonymous Pauline and made a transcript from the copy in the British Museum. But his audience was still select.

Another recognition of his genius was of incomparably more personal importance and vitally affected his history. In 1844 Miss Barrett (see Browning, Elizabeth Barrett) published a volume of poems containing " Lady Geraldine's Courtship," with a striking phrase about Browning's poems. He was naturally gratified, and her special friend and cousin, John Kenyon, encouraged him to write to her. She admitted him to a personal interview after a little diffidence, and a hearty appreciation of literary geniis on both sides was speedily ripened into genuine and most devoted love. Miss Barrett was six years older than Browning and a confirmed invalid with shaken nerves. She was tenderly attached to an autocratic father who objected on principle to the marriage of his children. The correspondence of the lovers (published in 1899) shows not only their mutual devotion, but the chivalrous delicacy with which Browning behaved in a most trying situation. Miss Barrett was gradually encouraged to disobey the utterly unreasonable despotism. They made a clandestine marriage on the 1 2 th of September 1846. The state of Miss Barrett's health suggested misgivings which made Browning's parents as well as his bride's disapprove of the match. She, however, appears to have become stronger for some time, though always fragile and incapable of much active exertion. She had already been recommended to pass a winter in Italy. Browning had made three previous tours there, and his impressions had been turned to account in Sordello and Pippa Passes, in The Englishman in Italy and Home Thoughts from Abroad. For the next fifteen years the Brownings lived mainly in Italy, making their headquarters at Florence in the Casa Gu. idi. A couple of winters were passed in Rome. In the summer of 1849 they were at Siena, where Browning was helpful to Landor, then in his last domestic troubles. They also visited England and twice spent some months in Paris. Their only child, Robert Wiedemann Browning, was born at Florence in 1849. Browning's literary activity during his marriage seems to have been comparatively small; Christmas Eve and Easter Day appeared in 1850, while the two volumes called Men and Women (1855), containing some of his best work, showed that his power was still growing. His position involved some sacrifice and imposed limitations upon his energies. Mrs Browning's health required a secluded life; and Browning, it is said, never dined out during his marriage, though he enjoyed society and made many and very warm friendships. Among their Florence friends were Margaret Fuller Ossoli, Isa Blagden, Charles Lever and others. The only breach of complete sympathy with his wife was due to his contempt for " spiritualists " and " mediums," in whom she fully believed. His portrait of Daniel Dunglas Home as " Sludge the Medium " only appeared after her death. This domestic happiness, however, remained essentially unbroken until she died on 29th June 1861. The whole love-story had revealed the singular nobility of his character, and, though crushed for a time by the blow, he bore it manfully. Browning determined to return to England and superintend his boy's education at home. He took a house at 19 Warwick Crescent, Paddington, and became gradually acclimatized in London. He resumed his work and published the Dramatis Personae in 1864. The publication was well enough received to mark the growing recognition of his genius, which was confirmed by The Ring and the Book, published in four volumes in the winter of 1868-1869. In 186 7 the university of Oxford gave him the degree of M.A. " by diploma," and Balliol College elected him as an honorary fellow. In 1868 he declined a virtual offer of the rectorship of St Andrews. He repeated the refusal on a later occasion (1884) from a dislike to the delivery of a public address. The rising generation was now beginning to buy his books; and he shared the homage of thoughtful readers with Tennyson, though in general popularity he could not approach his friendly rival. The Ring and the Book has been generally accepted as Browning's masterpiece. It was based on a copy of the proces verbal of Guido Franceschini's case discovered by him at Florence.

The audacity of the scheme is surprising. To tell the story of a hideous murder twelve times over, to versify the arguments of counsel and the gossip of quidnuncs, and to insist upon every detail with the minuteness of a law report, could have occurred to no one else. The poem is so far at the opposite pole from Sordello. Vagueness of environment is replaced by a photographic distinctness, though the psychological interest is dominant in both. Particular phrases may be crabbed, but nothing can be more distinct and vivid in thought and conception. If some of those " dramatic monologues " of which the book is formed fail to be poetry at all, some of them - that of Pompilia the victim, her champion Caponsacchi, and the pope who gives judgment - are in Browning's highest mood, and are as impressive from the ethical as from the poetical point of view. Pompilia was no doubt in some respects an idealized portrait of Mrs Browning. Other pieces maybe accepted as a background of commonplace to throw the heroic into the stronger relief. The Ring and the Book is as powerful as its method is unique.

Browning became gentler and more urbane as he grew older. His growing fame made him welcome in all cultivated circles, and he accepted the homage of his admirers with dignity and simplicity. He exerted himself to be agreeable in private society, though his nervousness made him invariably decline ever to make public speeches. He was an admirable talker, and took pains to talk his best. A strong memory supplied him with abundant anecdotes; and though occasionally pugnacious, he allowed a fair share of the conversation to his companions. Superficial observers sometimes fancied that the poet was too much sunk in the man of the world; but the appearance was due to his characteristic reluctance to lay bare his deeper feelings. When due occasion offered, the underlying tenderness of his affections was abundantly manifest. No one could show more delicate sympathy. He made many warm personal friendships in his later years, especially with women, to whom he could most easily confide his feelings. In the early years of this period he paid visits to country houses, but afterwards preferred to retire farther from the London atmosphere into secluded regions. He passed some holidays in remote French villages, Pornic, Le Croisic and St Aubyn, which have left traces in his poetry. Gold Hair is a legend of Pornic, and Herve Riel was written at Le Croisic. At St Aubyn he had the society of Joseph Milsand, who had shown his warm appreciation of Browning 's poetry by an article in the Revue des Deux Mondes, which in 1852 had led to a personal friendship lasting till Milsand's death in 1886. Browning sent to him the proof-sheets of all his later works for revision. In 1877 Browning was at La Saisiaz on the Saleve, near Geneva, where an old friend, Miss Egerton Smith, was staying. She died suddenly almost in his presence. She had constantly accompanied him to concerts during his London life. After her death he almost ceased to care for music. The shock of her loss produced the singular poem called La Saisiaz, in which he argues the problem of personal immortality with a rather indefinite conclusion. In later years Browning returned to Italy, and passed several autumns at Venice. He never visited Florence after his wife's death there.

Browning's literary activity continued till almost the end of his life. He wrote constantly, though he composed more slowly. He considered twenty-five or thirty lines to be a good day's work. His later writings covered a very great variety of subjects, and were cast in many different forms. They show the old characteristics and often the old genius. Browning's marked peculiarity, the union of great speculative acuteness with intense poetical insight, involved difficulties which he did not always surmount. He does not seem to know whether he is writing poetry or when he is versifying logic; and when the speculative impulse gets the upper hand, his work suggests the doubt whether an imaginary dialogue in prose would not have been a more effective medium. He is analysing at length when he ought to be presenting a concrete type, while the necessities of verse complicate and obscure the reasoning. A curious example is the Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau (1871), an alias for Louis Napoleon. The attempt to show how a questionable hero apologizes to himself recalls the very powerful " Bishop Blougram," and ' Sludge, the medium," of earlier works, but becomes prolix and obscure. Fifine at the Fair (1872) is another curious speculation containing a defence of versatility in lovemaking by an imaginary Don Juan. Its occasionally cynical tone rather scandalized admirers, who scarcely made due allowance for its dramatic character. Browning's profound appreciation of high moral qualities is, however, always one main source of his power. In later years he became especially interested in stories of real life, which show character passing through some sharp ordeal. The Red Cotton Nightcap Country (1873), describing a strange tragedy which had recently taken place in France, and especially The Inn Album (1875), founded on an event in modern English society, are powerful applications of the methods already exemplified in The Ring and the Book. The Dramatic Idyls (1879 and 1880) are a collection of direct narratives, with less analytical disquisition, which surprised his readers by their sustained vigour. In the last volumes, Jocoseria (1883), Ferishtah's Fancies (1884), Parleyings with Certain People (1887) and Asolando (1889), the old power is still apparent but the hand is beginning to fail. They contain discussions of metaphysical problems, such as the origin of evil, which are interesting as indications of his creed, but can scarcely be regarded as successful either poetically or philosophically.

Another group of poems showed Browning's interest in Greek literature. Balaustion's Adventure (1871) includes a " transcript from Euripides," a translation, that is, of part of the Alcestis. Aristophanes' Apology (1875) included another translation from the Heracles, and in 1877 he published a very literal translation of the Agamemnon. This, it seems, was meant to disprove the doctrine that IEschylus was a model of literary style. Browning shared his wife's admiration for Euripides, and takes a phrase from one of her poems as a motto for Balaustion's Adventure. In the Aristophanes' Apology this leads characteristically to a long exposition by Aristophanes of his unsatisfactory reasons for ridiculing Euripides. It recalls the apologies of "Blougram " and Louis Napoleon, and contains some interesting indications of his poetical theory. Browning was to many readers as much prophet as poet. His religious position is most explicitly, though still not very clearly, set forth in the Christmas Eve and Easter Day (1850). Like many eminent contemporaries, he combined a disbelief in orthodox dogma with a profound conviction of the importance to the religious instincts of the symbols incorporated in accepted creeds. Saul (1845), A Death in the Desert (1864), and similar poems, show his strong sympathy with the spirit of the old belief, though his argumentative works have a more or less sceptical turn. It was scarcely possible, if desirable, to be original on such topics. His admirers hold that he shows an affinity to German metaphysicians, though he had never read their works nor made any express study of metaphysical questions. His distinctive tendency is to be found rather in the doctrine of life and conduct which both suggests and is illustrated by his psychological analyses. A very characteristic thought emphatically set forth in the Rabbi Ben Ezra (1864) and the Grammarian's Funeral (1855) is that a man's value is to be measured, not by the work done, but by the character which has been moulded. He delights in exhibiting the high moral instinct which dares to override ordinary convictions, or which is content with discharge of obscure duties, or superior to vulgar ambition and capable of self-sacrifice, because founded upon pure love and sympathy for human suffering. Browning's limitations are characteristic of the poetry of strong ethical preoccupations. His strong idiosyncrasy, his sympathy with the heroic and hatred of the base, was hardly to be combined with the Shakespearian capacity for sympathizing with the most varied types of character. Though he deals with a great variety of motive with singularly keen analysis, he takes almost exclusively the moral point of view. That point of view, however, has its importance, and his morality is often embodied in poetry of surpassing force. Browning's love of the grotesque, sometimes even of the horrible, creates many most graphic and indelible portraits. The absence of an exquisite sense for the right word is compensated by the singular power of striking the most brilliant flashes out of obviously wrong words, and forcing comic rhymes to express the deepest and most serious thoughts. Though he professed to care little for motive as apart from human interest, his incidental touches of description are unsurpassably vivid.

The appreciation of Browning's genius became general in his later years, and zeal was perhaps a little heightened by the complacency of disciples able to penetrate a supposed mist of obscurity. The Browning Society, founded in 1881 by Dr F. J. Furnivall and Miss E. H. Hickey, was a product of this appreciation, and helped to extend the study of the poems. Browning accepted the homage in a simple and friendly way, though he avoided any action which would make him responsible for the publications. He received various honours: LL.D. degree from Cambridge in 1879, the D.C.L. from Oxford in 1882, and LL.D. from Edinburgh in 1884. He became foreign correspondent to the Royal Academy in 1886. His son, who had settled at Venice, married in 1887, and Browning moved to De Vere Gardens. In the autumn of 1889 he went with his sister to visit his son, and stayed on the way at Asolo, which he had first seen in 1838, when it supplied the scenery of Pippa Passes. He was charmed with the place, and proposed to buy a piece of ground and to build upon it a house to be called " Pippa's Tower " - in memory of his early heroine. While his proposal was under consideration he went to his son at Venice. His health had been breaking for some time, and a cold, aggravated by weakness of the heart, brought on a fatal attack. He died on the 12th of December 1889. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 31st December. It was suggested that his wife's body should be removed from Florence to be placed beside him; but their son rightly decided that her grave should not be disturbed.

Browning's personal characteristics are so strongly stamped upon all his works that it is difficult to assign his place in contemporary thought. He is unique and outside of all schools. His style is so peculiar that he is the easiest of all poets to parody and the most dangerous to imitate. In spite of his early Shelley worship he is in certain respects more closely related to Wordsworth. Both of them started by accepting the poet's mission as quasi-prophetical or ethical. In other respects they are diametrically contrasted. Wordsworth expounded his philosophy by writing a poetical autobiography. Browning adheres to the dramatic method of which Wordsworth was utterly incapable. He often protested against the supposition that he put himself into his books. Yet there is no writer whose books seem to readers to be clearer revelations of himself. Nothing, in fact, is more characteristic of a man than his judgments of other men, and Browning's are keen and unequivocal. The revolutionary impulse had died out, and Browning has little to say either of the political questions which had moved Shelley and Byron, or of the social problems which have lately become more prominent. He represents the thought of a quieter epoch. He was little interested, too, in the historical or " romantic " aspect of life. He takes his subjects from a great variety of scenes and places - from ancient Greece, medieval Italy and modern France and England; but the interest for him is not in the picturesque surroundings, but in the human being who is to be found in all periods. Like Balzac, whom he always greatly admired, he is interested in the eternal tragedy and comedy of life. His problem is always to show what are the really noble elements which are eternally valuable in spite of failure to achieve tangible results. He gives, so far, another version of Wordsworth's doctrine of the cultivation of the " moral being." The psychological acuteness and the subtle analysis of character are, indeed, peculiar to himself. Like Carlyle, with whom he had certain points of affinity, he protests, though rather by implication than direct denunciation, against the utilitarian or materialistic view of life, and finds the divine element in the instincts which guide and animate every noble character. When he is really inspired by sympathy for such emotions he can make, his most grotesque fancies and his most far-fetched analyses subservient to poetry of the highest order. It can hardly be denied that his intellectual ingenuity often tempts him to deviate from his true function, and that his observations are not to be excused because they result from an excess, instead of a deficiency, of intellectual acuteness. But the variety of his interests - aesthetic, philosophical and ethical - is astonishing, and his successes are poems which stand out as unique and unsurpassable in the literature of his time.

The Life and Letters of Browning, by Mrs Sutherland Orr (1891), one of his most intimate friends in later years, and The Love Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, 1845-1846, published by his son in 1899, are the main authorities. A collection of Browning's poems in 2 vols. appeared in 1849, another in 3 vols. in 1863, another in 6 vols. in 1868, and a revised edition in 16 vols. in 1888-1889; in 1896 Mr Augustine Birrell and Mr F. G. Kenyon edited a complete edition in 2 vols.; another two-volume edition was issued by Messrs Smith, Elder in 1900. Among commentaries on Browning's works, Mrs Sutherland Orr's Handbook to the Works of Browning was approved by the poet himself. See also the Browning Society's Papers; and Mr T. J. Wise's Materials for a Bibliography of the Writings of Robert Browning, included in the Literary Anecdotes of the Nineteenth Century (1895), by W. Robertson Nicoll and T. J. Wise; Mr. Edmund Gosse's Robert Browning: Personalia (1890), from notes supplied by Browning himself. Among biographical and critical authorities may be mentioned: J. T. Nettleship, Essays (1868); Arthur Symons, An Introduction to the Study of Browning (1886); Stopford Brooke, The Poetry of Robert Browning (1902); G. K. Chesterton, Browning (1908) in the " English Men of Letters " series. (L. S.)


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Simple English

Robert Browning (May 7, 1812December 12, 1889) was an English poet and playwriter. He was married to the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Browning is buried in Westminster Abbey








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