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Robert Browning (May 7, 1812 – December 12, 1889)

Robert Browning was a prolific Victorian-era poet and playwright born in Camberwall, a suburb of London. Browning is widely regarded as a master of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. He is best known for a poem he didn’t value at all, The Pied Piper of Hamelin and for his long form blank poem, The Ring and the Book, the story of a Roman murder trial in 12 books. He was married to the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Browning’s father worked as a bank clerk (foregoing a family fortune because he opposed slavery). His father also amassed a personal library of some 6000 books, which served as an unconventional education for young Browning and his younger sister Sarah Anna. His family was hugely supportive of his early career, supporting him financially and self-publishing his early works. Browning lived at home with his family until 1846 when he and Elizabeth Barrett married. Barrett’s father disapproved of the marriage and disowned her. The newlyweds moved to Florence, Italy. During his marriage, Browning wrote very little, educating their son. After Elizabeth’s death in 1861, Browning and son returned to England. Finally, during his 50s, Browning began to attain popular success.

In 1881, the Browning Society was founded to study his work. In 1887, he received an honorary DCL (Doctor of Civil Law) from Oxford University’s Balliol College. His final work, Asolando was published the day he died, December 12, 1889. Browning died in Venice and is buried in the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.