The Love Letters Project #6: Robert Browning & Elizabeth Barrett

A love letter from Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Who better to write the world’s most memorable love letters than the world’s most famous writers? In the case of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the love affair was between two of the most influential poets of the Victorian age… 

January 10th, 1845

I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett, – and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write,- whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me – for in the first flush of delight I thought I would this once get out of my habit of purely passive enjoyment, when I do really enjoy, and thoroughly justify my admiration – perhaps even, as a loyal fellow-craftsman should, try and find fault and do you some little good to be proud of herafter! – but nothing comes of it all – so into me has it gone, and part of me has it become, this great living poetry of yours, not a flower of which but took root and grew… oh, how different that is from lying to be dried and pressed flat and prized highly and put in a book with a proper account at bottom, and shut up and put away… and the book called a ‘Flora’, besides!

Browning first met Barrett in 1845, and their creative admiration for one another would soon turn romantic. They eloped in 1846 to avoid Barrett’s disapproving, tyrannical father, and lived happily in Italy until Barrett’s death in 1861, their fame and their love for one another increasingly assured…

Images: Gaston D. Haese and Wikimedia Commons.

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.