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Shilstone FW1996 Browning Elizabeth Barrett In World Book Encyclopedia Volume 2 pp 655-656 Chicago World Book Inc Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the best-known poets of her time The oldest of twelve children in an upper middle-class family she received no formal education but a desire for knowledge enabled her to learn eight languages on her own She began writing poetry as a child and by the time she reached adulthood she had published four immensely popular volumes of verse Though a longtime illness made her something of a recluse Barrett was able to meet many of the leading writers of the day In 1845 she began to receive letters from the poet Robert Browning who after five months of correspondence paid her a visit They fell in love and when Elizabeths stern father refused to allow her to spend the winter of 1846 in Italy as her doctors had advised she and Browning married secretly there Shilstone 1996 p656 In 1849 their son was born whom they nicknamed Pen Elizabeth Barrett Browning used many different emotions when writing her poetry In the collection Sonnets from the Portuguese 1849 Elizabeth let the love for her husband speak The whole collection is forty-four poems written to Robert Browning Aurora Leigh 1857 is yet another example of love being prominent in Elizabeths writings Another element in Elizabeths writings is statements about faith and her illnessdeath In the closing line of her most famous sonnet p656 Sonnet 43 Elizabeth says and if God choose I shall but love thee better after death In the 19th century Elizabeth Barrett Browning helped to revive the sonnet cycle which is a series of sonnets loosely connected by a common subject or theme Her cycles characteristically treat the subject of love The Italian sonnet which is what Elizabeth wrote in has two partsthe octave and the sestet The octave always asks the question and the sestet answers Though the
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