Peter Washington

A Widower Writes

Robert Browning: A Life After Death

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson 336pp £20 order from our bookshop

The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, Volume IX: The Ring and The Book, Books IX-XII

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Oxford University Press 408pp £85 order from our bookshop

AS ALL HIS biographers have discovered to their cost, a life of Browning is inevitably a life of his wife. Although the poet was married late and widowed early, his years with Elizabeth Barrett left their mark on all his later work and threw a retrospective light on the earlier. When Mrs Browning died in 1861 (the same year as the Prince Consort) he became the Albert ‘to Browning’s Victoria, controlling her husband’s life from beyond the grave. Portraits of her hung in every room of his London house and he guarded her reputation more fiercely than his own.

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