A secret year, of courting and mailing,
Browning tells Barrett he loves her poems.
He loves her and so they marry,
and escape to Italy. All that love
put into many sonnets. Count the ways.
Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning eloped in 1846 after courting in secret for a year and a half through the mail, unbeknownst to her father. It all started with a fan letter by Robert to poet Elizabeth.
They did finally meet face to face but Barrett’s father didn’t know about the courtship and didn’t like Browning. They married without family and Elizabeth returned to her father’s house where she stayed for one more week before she ran off to Italy with Browning. She never saw her father again.
Elizabeth gave her new husband a collection of poems she’d written during their courtship. It was published in 1850 as Sonnets from the Portuguese.
Many of the poems on this site are available to listen to as podcasts on most popular platforms.