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Elizabeth Barrett was born in Durham England in 1806 the first daughter of affluent parents who owned sugar plantations in Jamaica She was home-schooled and read voraciously in history philosophy and literature Young Elizabeth learned Hebrew in order to read original Bible texts and Greek in order to read original Greek drama and philosophy She began writing poems when she was 12 years old though she did not publish her first collection for another twenty years Elizabeth Barrett developed a serious respiratory ailment by age 15 and a horse riding accident shortly thereafter left her with a serious spinal injury These two health problems remained with her all of her life In 1828 her mother died and four years later the family business faltered and her father sold the Durham estate and moved the family to a coastal town He was stern protective and even tyrannical and forbid any of his children to marry In 1833 Elizabeth published her first work a translation of Prometheus Bound by the Greek dramatist Aeschylus A few years later the family moved to London Her father began sending Elizabeths younger brothers and sisters to Jamaica to help with the family business Elizabeth was distressed because she openly opposed slavery in Jamaica and on the family plantations and because she did not want her siblings sent away In 1838 Elizabeth Barrett wrote and published The Seraphim and Other Poems The collection took the form of a classical Greek tragedy and expressed her deep Christian sentiments Shortly thereafter Elizabeths poor health prompted her to move to Italy accompanied by her dear brother Edward whom she referred to as Bro Unfortunately he drowned a year later in a sailing accident and Elizabeth returned to London seriously ill emotionally broken and hopelessly grief-stricken She became reclusive for the next five years confining herself to her bedroom She continued to write poetry however and published a collection in 1844 simply titled Poems Edgar Allan
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