Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born on March 6, 1806, in Coxhoe Hall, Durham, England. She was the eldest of eleven children born of Edward and Mary Moulton-Barrett (DISCovering Authors). Her father was a “possessive and autocratic man loved by his children even though he rigidly controlled their lives” (Encyclopedia of World Biography). Although he forbid his daughters to marry, he always managed to encourage their scholarly pursuits (DISCovering Authors). Her mother, Mary Graham-Clarke, was a prosperous woman who earned their wealth from a sugar plantation in Jamaica (EXPLORING Poetry). When Elizabeth was “three years old, the family moved to Hope End in Herefordshire,, and she spent the next twenty-three years of her life in this minareted country house overlooking a lake” (Hayter).
Since a young age Barrett Browning had shown significant amounts of interest in poetry and literature. By the age of four she had began reading and writing verse. “She was educated at home, and learned classic Greek, Latin, and several modern languages” (Shilstone 646). For being self-educated, her devotion to poetry, literature, and classical studies was exceptional (EXPLORING Poetry). “Elizabeth could read Homer in the original at 8 years old” (Greer). “She completed an epic poem, ‘Battle of Marathon’. when she was thirteen, and her father had it privately printed” (Greer).
In 1821, Barrett Browning began suffering from a nervous disorder that caused headaches, weakness, and fainting spells in which would affect her for the rest of her life (EXPLORING Poetry). Additionally, around the age of fourteen she injured her spine when attempting to saddle her pony, consequently dooming herself into a life of deficiency and solitude (DISCovering Authors). Seven years later a blood vessel burst in her chest, resulting in a continuous chronic cough (EXPLORING Poetry). Furthermore on July 11, 1840 her favorite brother and constant companion, Edward drowned. Elizabeth considered this event the greatest sorrow in her life and refused to speak of the loss even with those closest to her (EXPLORING Poetry). For the next five years she remained in her room and saw no one but her family and a couple close friends (Encyclopedia of World Biography). This tragedy sent her into a depression the worsened her condition (DISCovering Authors). In 1832 the Barrett’s were forced to auction their large country estate due to financial incomes losses at their Jamaican sugar plantations and occupy a temporary residence in the south of England (EXPLORING Poetry). Six years later the family settled permanently at 50 Wimpole Street in London (Encyclopedia of World Biography).
In 1833, Barrett published her first volume of poetry, Promethus Bound: Translated from the Greek of Aeschylus, and Miscellaneous Poems anonymously, which went nearly unnoticed by the public (EXPLORING Poetry) (Encyclopedia of World Biography). Discouraged, Elizabeth received influence from Hugh Stuart Boyd, a blind,...