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Robert Browning (1812-1889)

The eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries witnessed several great authors and poets. Some of them were trend setters whose works are inevitable and cannot be forgotten. They remain very close to our hearts forever. One […]

The eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries witnessed several great authors and poets. Some of them were trend setters whose works are inevitable and cannot be forgotten. They remain very close to our hearts forever. One such poet and a playwright of English origin is Robert Browning. The profound contribution of this great poet and playwright to the literature is still remembered. His unique style of developing poetry through psychological portraits which made several writers of twentieth century like Ezra Pound and Robert Frost etc his followers is truly inspiring.

Robert Browning, the only son of Sarah Anna and Robert Browning was born on 7th of May 1812 in Camberwell, which is now a part of borough of Southwark, South of London. His father was a clerk with Bank of England and was well paid. The family was rich in the resources of literature as all the members of the family be it his sister, mother or father were all connected to literature in one or the other way. His father is known to have amassed as many as 6000 books in his library, most of which are very rare. This, along with the fact that the children were encouraged to take interest in literature was the reasons of inclination of Robert Browning in this field.

Though Robert Browning was not very good at studies and showed his dislike for studies very early, such was his talent that at a tender age of twelve he was ready with a book consisting of his poetry named ‘Incondita’. Though the book never got any publishers it was appreciated by his father who was his tutor at home. He became proficient in French, Italian, Greek and Latin when he was just fourteen. Romantic poets were greatly admired by him and in that course of time he became an ardent follower of Percy Bysshe Shelley and even became a vegetarian and atheist following him which he later gave up. He studied Greek for a year at University College London at the age of sixteen.

Though Robert Browning earned honorary degrees from the Oxford and the Edinburgh Universities he was not able to join the prestigious Oxford or the Cambridge universities for education due to the staunch evangelicals of his parents which prevented him to join these universities. He was dependent on his father financially up to an age of 34 years. His father used to sponsor the publications of the poems written by his son.

Success and fame didn’t come to Robert Browning easily and instantly. He struggled a lot to make his presence felt among the Victorian writers. The world was in a phase of change and it was during this time Charles Darwin’s book ‘The Origin of Species’(1859) came out which challenged the orthodox beliefs which stole all the limelight and several good works by eminent writers went unnoticed. Even after producing a number of poetic and dramatic works for stage Robert Browning was many a times overshadowed by the success of his own wife Elizabeth Barrette Browning who was six years elder and died before him was a fellow English poet. His first major work which got published in Sordello was ‘Pauline’ (1840) which is considered to be a failure. After a long struggle in the year 1868, the book which gave Robert Browning him his much awaited success financially and literally, ‘The Ring and The Book’ came out. This book was published in four separate volumes between the years 1868 an 1869 all of which were a huge success. It consisted of twelve volumes and 21,000 lines in it which mainly narrated about a trial of a case of 1698 in which Count Guido Franceschini of Rome who murdered his wife and Pompilia Comparini and her parents.

Before this he came up with several works which earned recognition after the success of ‘The Ring and The Rock’. Some of them are ‘Paracelsus’ (1835) which is a poetical monologue series between Swish alchemist, occultist Paracelsus and his friends, Strafford (1837) a stage drama and ‘Two Poems’. Before his death on 12th December 1889 he created several master pieces. The best works of Robert Browning which got published and popular include ‘Men and Women’ (1855), ‘Bells and Pomegranates’ a seven volume series (1842-1844), ‘Dramatis Personae’ (1864), ‘Balaustion’s Adventure’ (1872), ‘The In Album’ (1875) and ‘Asolando’ (1889).
There are numerous other works which depicts the authority Robert Browning has in the literature and also prove that he is the best in his class. His way of perceiving things and interpreting them is what keeps even the modern writers of this era guessing and intrigued.

Robert Browning biography and photo