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Who wrote the first love letter — Robert Browning or Elizabeth Barrett?

September 18th

440px-Elizabeth_Barrett_BrowningSeptember 18, 1846 — Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning exchange last letters today before eloping.

Browning, a respected working poet for many years before her courtship and marriage to Browning, their secret romance and controversial elopement and fairytale ending of a happy marriage is legendary.

Robert Browning (7 May 1812 – 12 December 1889) was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, and in particular the dramatic monologue, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets. His poems are known for their irony, characterization, dark humor, social commentary, historical settings, and challenging vocabulary and syntax. The speakers in his poems are often musicians or painters whose work functions as a metaphor for poetry.

Their love affair began when in 1845 when Robert wrote to Elizabeth in praise of her poetry. His admiration for Barrett as a poet was not unusual, for Browning (6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861) was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both Britain and the United States during her lifetime.[but after 20 months of correspondence and meetings, they eloped and moved to Italy.

During the time of their courtship, Barrett began a sonnet sequence. It began immediately after their first meeting and chronicled her reactions. She did not reveal the poems to Robert until thee years after the marriage, and the birth of their son.

Words of Wisdom

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 and turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me…

— Robert Browning's first love letter to Elizabeth Barrett, on Jan. 10, 1845, immediately establishing the intensity that would characterize the relationship

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