Robert Browning

(1812–1889)

Young Robert Browning

Anecdote...

Browning’s Sordello was published in 1840. It is a simple story about an obscure heir to a dukedom in thirteenth-century Italy. But Browning’s interest in and description of the development of the human soul complicates the tale considerably. Baffled readers resorted to the poet for an explanation. Members of the London Poetry Society asked Browning for an interpretation of a particularly difficult passage. Browning read it once, then twice, then frowned, and shrugged his shoulders. “When I wrote that, God and I knew what it meant, but now God alone knows.”

Anecdote 2...

“What will be the event of my love for Her?” he asked the book that fell under his hand, opening it at a random passage. The volume, unfortunately, turned out to be Cerutti’s Italian grammar. He hoped he might come upon a word like conjunction or at least a possessive pronoun. To his amazement his eyes lighted upon the sentence in an exercise for translation: “If we love in the other world as we do in this, I shall love thee to eternity.”

Biographical Note: 
Robert Browning

Robert Browning was a British poet. Browning’s early work included poetic tragedies and several long poems that won limited critical acclaim.In 1845 he saw Elizabeth Barrett’s Poems and contrived to meet her. Although she was an invalid and very much under the control of a domineering father, the two married in September 1846 and a few days later eloped to Italy, where they lived until her death in 1861. Some of the poems written during his marriage to her, particularly his love lyrics, are exquisite. After her death he returned to England. Browning specialized in dramatic verse monologues that explored human emotions and motives.

More Information: 

Read a brief biography of Robert Browning.
You might also want to read about the relationship between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Portrait Info

The painting above of the young Robert Browning is in the National Portrait Gallery. Artist: Michele Gordigiani