Sunday, April 28, 2013

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: The Life and Loves of a Poet

1988, undated later edition, from St. Martin's Press
Margaret Forster
Elizabeth Barrett Browning: The Life and Loves of a Poet
Original and purchase price $13.95
Worn paperback

Forster says that one of the purposes of this book was to make Browning's poetry better known to modern readers.  This is ironic considering, one, she probably quotes only about as much of it as Rebecca Fraser does in the Brontë group biography coming up next; and two, EBB* comes across as unappealing in this and in Forster's novel about EBB's loyal maid Wilson, Lady's Maid (1990), which I've read but don't own.  In fact, the way EBB treated both Wilson and her previous maid, Crow, was shabby, even by Victorian standards.  And EBB purported to be a feminist and a "democrat."  Still, the "life and loves" do make for interesting reading-- everything from her relationships with family, friends, and of course Robert Browning, to her use of opium, to her spoiling of her son and dog.  And, yes, the poetry isn't bad, but I haven't read a whole poem of hers since my late teens.

*As Forster notes, there's no good term that covers the poet's whole life, and I'm not going to call her Elizabeth.

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