Robert Browning

Early Life

Robert Browning was born on the 7th of May in Camberwell, London, England. He was the brilliant son of Sarah Anna, daughter of German ship-owner, while his father, Robert Browning, was a clerk in the Bank of England. Robert was highly influenced by his mother’s love for music and his father’s scholarly interests. His father also owned a huge library with 600 volumes of different languages cast a recurrent impact on his literary development.


Since Robert belonged to a highly literate and artistic family, he was taught at home during his early years. His father’s huge collection exposed him to various ideas in different languages. At fourteen, he had learned Latin, Greek, Italian and French. He then underwent rigors of learning drawing, music, and dancing by several tutors for two years. He was also inspired by the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. So, he turned toward poetry at the age of twelve. Robert entered University College London (London University) to study Greek at sixteen but left after a year. Moreover, his parent’s staunch religious faith never allowed him to step into Oxford or Cambridge University because they were members of the Church of England. That is why he received less formal education and developed his literary ideas largely at home under the supervision of his parents. Despite this secluded development, he won an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from Oxford University in 1887.


Robert met Elizabeth Barrett in London, in 1845. They started corresponding and gradually discovered their love for each other. Elizabeth Barrett gave wings to his poetic imagination. The couple finally tied the knot on the 12th of September in 1846. Initially, they kept their marriage a secret because Barrett’s father disliked Robert. Later they eloped to Italy where they spent fifteen years until Elizabeth’s death in 1861.


After gaining a reputation among British Literary canons, Robert breathed his last on the 12th of December in 1889 in Venice. He was buried in Westminster Abbey at the Poet’s Corner. On the same day, the final volume of his book, “Asolando” hit the shelves. Sadly, he was not there to witness its glory.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. Robert Browning wrote eight plays and fifty-one poems during his lifetime.
  2. Besides literature, he was interested in music. He got this talent from his mother and composed various songs. However, he did not pursue a career in music.
  3. He learned to read and write at the age of five and composed his first literary work at the age of twelve.

Writing Career

Robert Browning is a great Victorian poet and playwright who started writing at an early age. He became a published poet in 1833 when his first poem, “Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession” was published. It received modest reviews, but it introduced him as a poet in literary circles. This piece was attacked by John Stuart Mill who condemned his sophisticated approach of writing. However, Robert never gave up and kept on polishing his abilities. Later, in 1935 he produced “Paracelsus” followed by another piece “Sordello” in 1940. Besides poetry, he tried his skills in playwriting and presented “Strafford” in 1837 and “Bells and Pomegranate” in 1841.

Unfortunately, these attempts did not bring the desired success. Robert was disheartened and continued writing poetry when in 1855 his wife inspired him to publish his collections. Later, this brought commercial and critical success in his writing career. In 1869, his “Dramatis Personae” and “Ring and the Book” earned him a spot in the circle of Victorian poets.

His Style

Robert had established his career first as a poet and then as a playwright. His unique ideas added a lot to the literary world. His works won global recognition marked by allusive imagery, symbolic structures, dramatic monologue, a blend of dark humor and Irony. His early works: “Pauline” and Paracelsus” brought him to the center of criticism, and his later masterpieces earned him a reputable place among literary circles. Robert successfully used dramatic monologue techniques which enabled the readers to see an event using the character’s lenses. Moreover, he explored the beauty of the real-world using artistic techniques in his poems, “Fra Lippo Lippi” and “Pictor Ignoyus”. The recurring themes in most of his poems are loss, love, the relationship between arts and mortality, politics, religion, and society.

Robert Browning’s Famous Works

  • Best Poems: Robert Browning is a great Victorian poet, some of his famous poems include: “My Last Duchess”, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”, “Porphyria’s Lover”, “Hilde Roland to the Dark Tower”, “The Lost Leader”, “Meeting at Night”, “Fra Lippo Lippi”, and “The Laboratory.”
  • Other Works: Besides poetry, he tried his hands on plays. Some of them include Colombe’s Birthday, King Victor and King Charles, Pippa Passes and In a Balcony.

Robert Browning’s Impacts on Future Literature

Robert Browning’s literary ideas have left deep imprints on English as well as international literature. His distinctive writing approach and unique way of expression made him stand among the best Victorian poets. His thoughtful ideas influenced many great poets and writers including Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot. He successfully documented his ideas and feelings in his writings that even today writers try to imitate his unique style, considering him a beacon for writing plays and poetry.

Famous Quotes

  1. “Why comes temptation but for man to meet
    And master and make crouch beneath his foot,
    And so be pedestaled in triumph?” (The Ring and the Book)
  1. “For life, with all it yields of joy and woe,
    And hope and fear, — believe the aged friend —
    Is just a chance o’ the prize of learning love?” (A Death in the Desert)
  1. “If you get simple beauty and nought else,
    You get about the best thing God invents.” (Fra Lippo Lippi)
  2. “If you join two lives, there is oft a scar.
    They are one and one, with a shadowy third;
    One near one is too far”. (By the Fireside)