This Norton Critical Edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 1856 verse-novel is based on Margaret Reynolds’ variorum edition, which the British Academy awarded the 1993 Rose Mary Crawshay Prize and which is reprinted here by special arrangement with the Ohio University Press.
The text is accompanied by both explanatory annotations and textual notes.
"Backgrounds and Contexts" includes thirty letters or letter excerpts by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning that trace Aurora Leigh’s inception, evolution, and publication.
Seven contemporary documents—on the "woman question," prostitution, socialism, and poetic theory—place the text historically.
"Criticism" collects twenty-five assessments of Aurora Leigh from the period 1899–1993.
A wide range of opinion is provided by George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Ellen Moers, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Angela Leighton, Deirdre David, Dorothy Mermin, and Margaret Reynolds, among others.
A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.
"This long narrative poem, of which Virginia Woolf said, '[Aurora Leigh] is the true daughter of her age,' was largely forgotten until the recent feminist movement...Aurora Leigh offers more hope to the aspirations of women than any other ...19th century imaginative [work]."
(1806-1861) was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime.
Margaret Reynolds is Lecturer in English at the University of Birmingham. She is the editor of the variorum Aurora Leigh (Ohio University Press, 1992), Erotica (Pandora and Ballantine, 1990), and The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories (1994). She is co-editor (with Angela Leighton) of Victorian Women Poets: An Anthology (Basil Blackwell, 1995). She is currently at work on Sappho’s Companions.