At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Elizabeth Barrett Browning dies in Florence

Romantic poet produced some of her best work after fleeing to Italy


Hungarian artist Károly Brocky's portrait of  Elizabeth  Barrett Browning
Hungarian artist Károly Brocky's portrait of
 Elizabeth  Barrett Browning
English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning died on this day in 1861 in Florence.

She had spent 15 years living in Italy with her husband, the poet Robert Browning, after being disinherited by her father who disapproved of their marriage.

The Brownings’ home in Florence, Casa Guidi, is now a memorial to the two poets.

Their only child, Robert Weidemann Barrett Browning, who became known as Pen, was born there in 1849.

Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era and was popular in both Britain and the United States during her lifetime.

From about the age of 15 she had suffered health problems and therefore lived a quiet life in her father’s house, concentrating on her writing.

A volume of her poems, published in 1844, inspired another writer, Robert Browning, to send her a letter praising her work.

He was eventually introduced to her by a mutual acquaintance and their legendary courtship began in secret.

They were married in 1846 and, after she had continued to live in her father’s home for a week, they fled to Italy. They settled in Florence, where they continued to write, inspired by art, the Tuscan landscape, and their contact with other writers and artists living there.

A plaque above the door of the Casa Guidi in Piazza San  Felice recalls that Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived there
A plaque above the door of the Casa Guidi in Piazza San
 Felice recalls that Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived there
Barrett Browning wrote Casa Guidi Windows in 1851, giving her personal impressions of political events in Italy.

The poets also spent some time living in Siena, where Barrett Browning continued to write poetry expressing her sympathy with the Italian struggle for independence from foreign rule.

When her health began to deteriorate, they moved back to Florence. Barrett Browning died in her husband’s arms on 29 June, 1861 at the age of 55. She is buried in the Protestant English Cemetery in Florence.

Travel tip:

A plaque marks Casa Guidi, the home of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her husband Robert in Piazza di San Felice in the Oltrarno district of Florence.  The house in Piazza San Felice, close to the Pitti Palace, now houses a museum dedicated to the lives of the literary couple.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb in the Protestant English Cemetery in Florence
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb in the
Protestant English Cemetery in Florence
Travel tip:

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s tomb, which was designed by Frederic, Lord Leighton, is frequently visited by her admirers in the picturesque setting of the English Cemetery in Piazzale Donatello in Florence.

(Photo of Casa Guidi plaque by Robert Greenham CC BY-SA 3.0)


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