born 1806

The eldest of 12, Elizabeth Barrett Browning quickly distinguished herself as the "poet laureate" of her large English family. As a brilliant autodidact whose parents always encouraged her literary bent, Elizabeth was reading + writing poetry by age 6, going on to publish a poem of her own by 15 and her first collection at 20.

In spite of her vocal advocacy for social justice causes {as well as lifelong debilitating spinal and lung illnesses that left her dependent on morphine}, Elizabeth was a prominent public figure who enjoyed surprising renown and influence in her own time. She was eulogized as "the Shakespeare among her sex."

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (18)

"At painful times, when composition is impossible and reading is not enough, grammars and dictionaries are excellent for distraction."

letter to Mary Russell Mitford | april 1839

"Full desertness, | In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare | Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare | Of the absolute Heavens."

Grief | 1844

"Light tomorrow with today."

The Romance of the Swan's Nest | 1844

"Birds Sing through our sighing, and the flocks and herds Serenely live while we are keeping strife..."

Patience Taught by Nature | january 1845

"Grant me...patience, as a blade of grass Grows by contented through the heat and cold."

Patience Taught by Nature | january 1845

"I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach."

No. XLIII | january 1850

"I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need."

No. XLIII | 1850

"I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise."

No. XLIII | 1850

"God's gifts put men's best dreams to shame."

No. XXVI | january 1850

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

No. XLIII | 1850

"Since when was genius found respectable?"

Aurora Leigh | 1856

"Measure not the work until the day's out and the labor done."

Aurora Leigh | january 1856

"A little sunburnt by the glare of life."

Aurora Leigh | 1856

"Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God."

Aurora Leigh | january 1856

"Whoso loves Believes the impossible."

Aurora Leigh | 1857

"Nothing's small! No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee, But finds some coupling with the spinning stars."

Aurora Leigh | 1857

"Some people always sigh in thanking God."

Aurora Leigh | 1857

"And I smiled to think God's greatness flowed around our incompleteness, —Round our restlessness, his rest."

Rhyme of the Duchess May | 1873 (posthumously)
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curated with care by Alicia Williamson {july 2014}