Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era. In the 1830s Elizabeth's cousin John Kenyon introduced her to prominent literary figures of the day such as William Wordsworth, Mary Russell Mitford, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Tennyson and Thomas Carlyle. Her first adult collection, The Seraphim and Other Poems, was published in 1838. During this time she contracted a disease, possibly tuberculosis, which weakened her further. Living at Wimpole Street, in London, she wrote prolifically between 1841 and 1844, producing poetry, translation and prose. She campaigned for the abolition of slavery and her work helped influence reform in the child labour legislation. Her prolific output made her a rival to Tennyson as a candidate for poet laureate on the death of Wordsworth. Barrett Browning was widely popular in the U.K. and America during her lifetime. American poet Edgar Allan Poe was inspired by her poem Lady Geraldine's Courtship and specifically borrowed the poem's meter for his poem The Raven. Poe had reviewed Barrett Browning's work in the January 1845 issue of the Broadway Journal and said that "her poetic inspiration is the highest - we can conceive of nothing more august. Her sense of Art is pure in itself." In return, she praised The Raven and Poe dedicated his 1845 collection The Raven and Other Poems to her, referring to her as "the noblest of her sex". Her poetry greatly influenced Emily Dickinson, who admired her as a woman of achievement. Her popularity in the United States and Britain was further advanced by her stands against social injustice, including slavery in the United States, injustice toward Italian citizens by foreign rulers, and child labour.