Robert Browning, 1812 - 1889

portrait of Robert Browning
1865 photo by Julia Margaret Cameron
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Born: 7 May 1812, Camberwell, London, England, UK
Died: 12 December 1889, Venice, Italy

The son of a wealthy clerk at the Bank of England, Browning spent much of his youth unsupervised in his father's private library of 6,000 volumes, which served as his primary education. He learned several language and wrote his first poetry by age twelve. He entered several private schools, disliked each of them, and was provided with tutors. He entered University College of London but left after a year. His family published his early poetry, some of which earned critical success. In 1844 he began a correspondence with Elizabeth Barrett, a well-known poet but a semi-invalid living with her father. They married secretly in 1846 and moved to Pisa for a year, then took up residence at Fiorenza. The Brownings had one son, known as "Pen", and Robert largely devoted himself to caring for his wife, writing some but publishing nothing until Elizabeth's death in 1865. Browning left Italy for seventeen years and traveled extensively but returned to Italy and died at his son's home at Venezia. The day he died his last book, Asolando, was published and the city council of Venezia approved his purchase of a home there. No room was available in the cemetery where Elizabeth was buried, he is interred Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey, adjacent to Alfred Tennyson.

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