EBB Contexts: A Brief Chronology

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: A Brief Chronology

1806 Elizabeth Barrett Moulton Barrett born 6 March, at Coxhoe Hall near Durham, first child of Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett (1785-1857) and Mary Graham-Clarke (1781-1828). Eleven siblings followed: Edward (1807-40), Henrietta (1809-60), Mary (1810-1814), Samuel (1812-40), Arabella (1813-68), Charles John (1814-1905), George (1816-95), Henry (1818-96), Alfred (1820-1904), Septimus (1822-70), Octavius (1824-1910). Both parents’ families were wealthy, with extensive land holdings in Jamaica.
1809 Family moves to Hope End, an estate in Herefordshire.
1812 Robert Browning born at Camberwell, 7 May, son of Robert Browning (1782-1866) and Sarah Anna Wiedemann (1772-1849). Sister Sarianna (1814-1903).
1815 Visits France with her parents, October-November.
1817 Begins studying Greek, which becomes a passion, with her brother Edward’s tutor, Daniel McSwiney.
1818 Writes short autobiographical essay “My Own Character.”
1820 Her epic The Battle of Marathon privately printed for her birthday, 50 copies at her father’s expense. Her tuition in Greek ends when Edward (“Bro”) leaves for boarding school.
1820-1821 Writes autobiographical sketch, “Glimpses into My Own Life and Literary Character.”
1821 Writes essay, “My Character and Bro’s Compared.” Her poetry first appears publicly, when “Stanzas, excited by some reflections on the present state of Greece” is published in The New Monthly Magazine, May. Seriously ill, she goes to Gloucester Spa for treatment, June.
1822 Returns to Hope End from Gloucester, May.
1823 Vacations with family in Boulogne, France, June to January 1824.
1825 Pays long visit to her paternal grandmother in Hastings, July to June 1826.
1826 An Essay on Mind, with Other Poems published.
1827 Her maternal grandmother, Arabella Graham-Clarke, dies, November.
1828 Begins studying Greek with Hugh Stuart Boyd, the blind classicist, who began a correspondence with her in February 1827. Her mother dies, October 7.
1830 Her paternal grandmother Elizabeth Moulton dies, 29 December, leaving EBB £4000.
1831-1832 Keeps a diary, June-April.
1832 Father sells Hope End and moves family to Sidmouth.
1833 Prometheus Bound, Translated from the Greek of Aeschylus, and Miscellaneous Poems published.
1835 Barrett family moves to London, December.
1836 Meets writers William Wordsworth and Mary Russell Mitford, May.
1837 Queen Victoria ascends to throne, June. EBB’s uncle Samuel dies in Jamaica; his bequest makes EBB financially independent.
1838 Barrett family moves to 50 Wimpole St. in London. The Seraphim, and Other Poems published (her first volume to bear her name), noted appreciatively by reviewers. EBB moves to Torquay for health, August. 
1840 Brother Sam dies in Jamaica, February. Favorite brother Edward (“Bro”) drowns at Torquay, July, precipitating EBB’s near-fatal illness and prolonged convalescence.
1841 Receives spaniel Flush from Mitford, January. Returns to London, September.
1842 Prose work Some Account of the Greek Christian Poets published in The Athenaeum, February-March; prose work The Book of the Poets,on British literature since Chaucer, published in The Athenaeum, June-August.
1843 “The Cry of the Children,” based on parliamentary report, published in Blackwood’s Magazine, August. Begins collaborating with R.H. Horne on A New Spirit of the Age (pub. March 1844).
1844 Poems (2 vols.) published. Widely reviewed and praised, and especially admired in America, the collection established EBB as a major poet of the day.
1845 EBB-RB correspondence begins (first letter from RB 10 January; they first meet 20 May). EBB declines opportunity to write poem for the Leeds Anti-Corn Law League. Begins writing Sonnets from the Portuguese; she and RB declare their love, September.
1846 EBB and RB marry on 12 September and leave on 19 September for Italy, first pausing in Paris and arriving in Pisa on 14 October.
1847 Suffers first miscarriage, March. Brownings move to Florence, April. Florentines celebrate Grand Duke Leopold II’s granting a civic guard, on the Brownings’ first anniversary, 12 September, and EBB begins writing “A Meditation in Tuscany.” (Rejected by Blackwood’s Magazine as uninteresting to English readers, it eventually becomes Part I of Casa Guidi Windows.) From this time, EBB embraces Italy’s unification and independence as a cherished cause and powerful poetic subject. “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” published in the Boston anti-slavery Liberty Bell for 1848, December.
1848 EBB suffers second miscarriage, March. Brownings travel in Italy during the summer.
1849 Brownings’ son Robert Wiedeman Barrett Browning (“Pen”) born, 9 March. RB’s mother dies, 18 March. EBB gives RB Sonnets from the Portuguese, July. Brownings summer in Bagni di Lucca, July-October. EBB suffers third miscarriage, November / December.
1850 The Athenaeum proposes EBB for Poet Laureate in (June) when Wordsworth dies (Alfred Tennyson named to the post). Suffers fourth miscarriage, July. Brownings travel to Siena, August to October. EBB’s new edition of Poems, including Sonnets from the Portuguese, published, November.
1851 Casa Guidi Windows published, May. Brownings travel to Venice, Paris, and London, where they stay from July to September and attend the Great Exhibition. They spend fall and winter in Paris, where a coup d’état elevates Louis Napoleon Bonaparte from President to Emperor. 
1852 Brownings meet George Sand in Paris, February. They return to England in July, back to Paris in October, and to Florence in November.
1853 EBB works on Aurora Leigh. Brownings spend summer in Bagni di Lucca, July-October, and winter in Rome, November to May 1854. New edition of EBB’s Poems published, October.
1854 EBB’s “Plea for the Ragged Schools of London” appears with RB’s “The Twins” for sale at a charity bazaar, April--their only joint publication. Brownings return to Florence, late May or beginning of June. Flush dies, June.
1855 Brownings travel to Paris in June, then on to London in July. They attend a séance conducted by medium Daniel Dunglas Home, July. They winter in Paris, October to June 1856. RB’s notable collection Men and Women published, November. EBB’s “A Curse for a Nation” published in the Boston anti-slavery Liberty Bell for 1856, December.
1856 Brownings return to England, June, then home to Florence, October. EBB’s new edition of Poems and her Aurora Leigh published, November. Though controversial, Aurora Leigh is praised and popular. Death of the Brownings’ beloved friend John Kenyon, who bequeaths them £11,000, ensuring their financial security.
1857 Second and third impressions (called second and third editions) of Aurora Leigh, January, March. Death of EBB’s father, still adamantly unreconciled to her, April. Brownings summer in Bagni di Lucca, end of July to October.
1858 Brownings holiday in northern France with both their families, July, then move to Paris until October. They winter in Rome, November to May 1859. EBB enjoys friendship and spiritualist investigations with American Sophia Eckley, 1858-59.
1859 Brownings return to Florence in May. Fourth (revised) edition of Aurora Leigh published, June. Political affairs in Italy remain turbulent and troubling. EBB seriously ill, July. Brownings summer in Siena, July to October, then winter in Rome, November to June 1860.
1860 Tuscany becomes part of the new kingdom of Italy. Poems before Congress published, March. Brownings return to Florence in June, spend summer in Siena, July to October, then move to Rome for the winter, November to June 1861. EBB’s sister Henrietta dies, late November.
1861 EBB confined to room by ill health during Roman winter. Thackeray refuses to print “Lord Walter’s Wife” in the Cornhill Magazine, judging it unsuitable for a family publication. Brownings return to Florence in June. EBB’s health deteriorates. Worried over Italy’s fate, she is shocked by the death of Camillo di Cavour, Italy’s first prime minister, 6 June. EBB dies, 29 June. Buried in Protestant cemetery, 1 July. RB and Pen move to London, August; RB never returns to Florence.
1862 Last Poems published. Florentine government erects a plaque on Casa Guidi to honor EBB’s support of Italian unification.
1878 RB visits Italy for the first time since EBB’s death.
1889 RB dies in Venice, 12 December.
1899 Publication of the EBB-RB courtship correspondence, with their son Pen’s permission.
1912 Pen (a sculptor and painter) dies in Asolo, just outside Florence.