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Robert Browning (1812-1889)
The son of Robert Browning, a Bank of England clerk, and Sarah Anna
Wiedemann, of Scottish-German descent, Browning received little formal
education. His learning was gleaned mainly from his Father’s library at home
in Camberwell, South London, where he learnt something, with his Father’s
help, of Latin and Greek and also read Shelly, Byron and Keats. Though he
attended lectures at the University of London in 1828, Browning left after
only one session.
Apart from a visit to St Petersburg in 1834 and two visits to Italy in 1838 and
1844, Browning lived with his parents in London until his marriage of 1846.
It was during this period that most of the plays and the earlier poems were
written and, excepting Strafford, published at his family’s expense.
After the secretly held marriage to Elizabeth Barrett in 1846, Browning and
wife travelled to Italy where they were, apart from brief holidays in France
and England, to spend most of their married life together. In 1849 the couple
had a son, Robert ‘Pen’ Browning, and it was Elizabeth who, during this time,
was most productive. After her death in 1861, Browning returned to England
with his son, where he achieved popular acclaim for his Dramatis Personae
and The Ring and the Book.
He spent the remainder of his life, excepting holidays in France, Scotland,
Italy and Switzerland, in London where he wrote a number of dramatic
poems, the two series of Dramatic Idylls (1879,1880) and poems on
primarily classical subjects: Balaustion’s Adventure (1871) and Aristophone’s
He died in Venice whilst holidaying in 1889 and was buried at Westminster