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Robert Browning (1812-1889)

  • 1812 – Robert Browning born in Camberwell, then a village south of London, the eldest child of Robert Browning, a clerk at the Bank of England, and Sarah Anna Browning.
  • 1814 – Robert Browning’s only sister, Sarianna, born.

  • 1819-1826 – RB attends Peckham School as a weekly boarder, receiving a classical education from Rev. Thomas Ready.
  • 1826 – In this year or the next RB gets a present of Shelley’s Miscellaneous Poems (1826), precipitating a deep engagement with Shelley’s poetry and a Shelley-influenced period of vegetarianism, atheism, and political radicalism.
  • 1828-1829 – Robert Browning attends the newly-founded London University for six months (Oct. 1828 — May 1829).
  • 1832 – (Oct.) Moved by Edmund Kean’s performance of Richard III at the King’s Theatre, Richmond. Inspired to write Pauline.
  • 1833 – (Mar.) Pauline published anonymously.
  • 1834 – Robert Browning travels to St Petersburg. Probably begins work on Sordello.
  • 1835 – (Aug.) Paracelsus published. (Nov.) Robert Browning introduced to the actor-manager W. C. Macready, leading to an intense effort to write plays for the contemporary theatre.
  • 1836 – (Jan.) First dramatic monologues, ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ (then called ‘Porphyria’) and ’Iohannes Agricola’ published in the liberal-radical journal The Monthly Repository.
  • 1837 – (May) Strafford, Robert Browning’s first play for the theatre, performed at Covent Garden, with Macready in the title role.
  • 1838 – (May—July) First trip to Italy: to Venice and the surrounding areas.
  • 1840 – Sordello published. It is poorly received and accused of being unintelligible.
  • 1841 – Pippa Passes published.
  • 1842 – King Victor and King Charles, and then Dramatic Lyrics, published.
  • 1843 – The Return of the Druses, and then A Blot in the ’Scutcheon, published. A Blot in the ’Scutcheort performed at the Drury Lane theatre. Robert Browning’s relationship with Macready breaks down over disagreements in the production.
  • 1844 – Colombe’s Birthday published. Aug. to Nov. second trip to Italy: to Naples, the Sorrento peninsula, Rome, Pisa, Livorno, and Florence. (Aug.) Barrett’s Poems published; Robert Browning reads them on his return from Italy.
  • 1845 – (Jan.) Robert Browning writes for the first time to Elizabeth Barrett. A romance develops Which she keeps secret from her father because of his irrational objections to marriage.
  • 1846 – (Sept.) Robert Browning and Barrett are privately married. They then flee secretly to the continent. (Oct.) Set up home in Pisa.
  • 1847 – (Apr.) Move to Florence. (July) Take a lease on Casa Guidi, in the south of the city. This eventually becomes their long-term home in Florence.
  • 1848-1849 – Year of revolutions. Grand Duke Leopold flees Florence and is then repressively restored to power by Austrian troops in May 1849.
  • 1849 – (Mar.) Birth of only son, Robert Wiedemann, usually called Penini or Pen.
  • 1850 – Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day published.
  • 1851-1852 – Long visit to Paris and London. Dec. 1851 Robert Browning and Barrett in Paris at the time of Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état.
  • 1853-1854 – In Florence Robert Browning writes most of the poems comprising Men and Women.
  • 1855 – Men and Women published, but has little success.
  • 1856 – Barrett’s novel-poem Aurora Leigh published, and achieves considerable success in the following years.
  • 1859-1861 Robert Browning and Barrett follow the military and political events of the struggle for the unification of Italy as a nation state (the Risorgimento), a cause they both ardently support.
  • 1861 – Barrett dies after a short illness. Robert Browning decides to break up their home at Casa Guidi, and settle in England.
  • 1862 – (Mar.) Takes lease on 19 Warwick Crescent, London.
  • 1864 – (Oct.) Commences serious work on his 21,000 line epic The Ring and the Book.
  • 1868-1869 – The Ring and the Book published in four vols. Robert Browning’s reputation has been growing during the 1860s. Now, for the first time, he receives wide public recognition.
  • 1871 – (Aug.) Balaustion’s Adventure; (Dec.) Prime Hohenstiel-Schwangau.
  • 1872 – Fifine at the Fair.
  • 1873 – Red Cotton Night-Cap Country.
  • 1875 – (April) Aristophanes’ Apology; (Nov.) The Inn Album.
  • 1876 – Pacchiarotto and How He Worked in Distemper: With Other Poems.
  • 1877 – Translation of The Agamemnon of Aeschylus.
  • 1878 – La Saisiaz: The Two Poets of Croisic (two works in one volume).
  • 1879 – Dramatic Idyls.
  • 1880 – Dramatic Idyls, Second Series.
  • 1881 – The Browning Society founded in London.
  • 1882 – DCL. from the University of Oxford.
  • 1883 – Jocoseria.
  • 1884 – LLD from University of Edinburgh. (Nov.) Ferishtah’s Fancies published.
  • 1887 – Parleyings with Certain People of Importance in Their Day.
  • 1888-1889 – The Poetical Works (in sixteen volumes), the last full edition of his lifetime, carefully corrected by Robert Browning.
  • 1889 – Asolando published 12 Dec.; Robert Browning dies at his son’s Palazzo in Venice later that day. 31 Dec. buried in Westminster Abbey, near Chaucer and Spenser.

Biography, Photos, Quotes of Robert Browning