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Dared & Done: Marriage Of Elizabeth Barrett & Robert Browning Paperback – November 15, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Defying her tyrannical father and in spite of poor health due to lung disease, English poet Elizabeth Barrett married poet-playwright Robert Browning in 1846 after a secret courtship, and they spent the next 15 years in Italy until her death. Elizabeth wrote great love sonnets, the proto-feminist novel in verse, Aurora Leigh, and fiery political poems condemning American slavery or supporting Italian unification. But illness and habitual depression took their toll. Robert, who during their marriage produced his breakthrough book of poems, Men and Women, witnessed the long decline of the great love of his life and he never remarried in 28 years of widowerhood. Markus, a novelist and head of Hofstra University's creative writing department in New York, has written a moving dual biography that peels away the myth and sentiment surrounding this union. She also delves into the Brownings' West Indies background. Pro-abolitionist Elizabeth's great-grandfather was a wealthy slaveholder in Jamaica, and the poet believed she had African blood. Robert's grandmother was Creole with claims to plantations in St. Kitts. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?A charming and well-documented analysis of the courtship and marriage of two well-known English poets, which presents their relationship as reflected in their work. Elizabeth Barrett was a morphine-addicted invalid, totally under the control of her domineering father, when she arranged to secretly meet Robert Browning, whose poems she greatly admired. Mutual infatuation drove the couple together and gave Barrett the strength to defy her father and marry Browning. Quoting heavily from their poetry and Barrett's correspondence, Markus shows the richness that love brought into the couple's life together. Dared and Done will appeal to mature readers of poetry and to those who enjoy romantic biography.?Susan R. Farber, Chappaqua Library, NY
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press (November 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821412469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821412466
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,169,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julia Markus has been called, "one of the most gifted novelists of her generation," by Pat Conroy. She is the author of four critically acclaimed novels and three significant and oft cited biographical works. She received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Award for her first novel, UNCLE and has won a National Endowment for the Arts grant and two National Endowment for the Humanities grants. She is the Director of Creative Writing at Hofstra University where she also teaches. Her latest book, LADY BYRON AND HER DAUGHTERS, a biography on the trials and tribulations of Lady Byron, is now available for pre-order through

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
One of the reasons I ordered this book was that I had only seen the film version of "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" and I had never read any biography of Elizabeth or Robert Browning. I found the book to be informative and readable. It didn't get bogged down with the psychological issues, although there certainly were many involved. The book wasn't stiff and formal, one of the problems I have had with many other biographies. Ms. Markus did an excellent job in following the Brownings through their married life and showing the love and respect they had for each other. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves biographies and who also loves to reach back into the Victorian Era.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lise on April 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book out of a desire to learn more about the lives and love of the Brownings. I had merely intended to skan through the pages, expecting yet another boring biography, but I was surprised.
Ms. Markus had done a wonderful job in making the characters come to life for me, and she had achieved this without adding a trace of fiction. Her extensive research blended in so well with her writing that I had no trouble following along. In fact, I found it so interesting that I ended up reading the entire book, from beginning to end.
I can only hope that the romance of Robert and Elizabeth will forever live through this brilliant biography!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Lapins on March 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Brownings hold a special place in my world, especially EBB. "Sonnets From The Portuguese" speaks with the eloquence, dignity and passion of the human ideal behind the flaws and veils of life and lovers (both RB and EBB's poetry are available on disc). Especially the last ten sonnets. EBB wrote not only about love and lovers, but about the human condition. She lived an insulated life yet was by nature a worldly and sophisticated soul. RB struggled with his inability to support his family, living off of EBB's inheritance annuity. Through this biography I was better able to appreciate his humaness and struggle, though I am still inclined toward EBB and her poetry. They were the sum of many contradictions, the big one being that they were so English (formal and proper) yet Bohemian in their liberal thinking. Both lovers and artists in the same household, in the same relationship, in the same struggle to survive and create (they do remind me of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's struggle and life together). While the book probably told the whole story, at least as much as a biographer can research and reveal, I still felt something lacking. I wanted the story to go on a little longer, a little deeper. I knew quite a bit about EBB before I began the book, I learned much more about her heritage and conflicts by reading this biography. My appreciation is much greater. It's a shame that we Moderns let so much of our heritage lay dormat (literaturewise) in the vaults of the "old days". To sip and savour the lives and poetry of the past is something we should cherish and celebrate. This book points in that direction. I strongly recommend this to all lovers of RB & EBB and poetry.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Hortensia Anderson on May 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
A wonderful biography of a marriage between two genius poets, Dared and Done drew me in with such force and speed that I was almost glad of being ill myself so as to have an excuse to stay in bed and finish it. Markus has managed to convey her own excitement at relating such an intriguing story and did what a good author should do - made me want to delve into these poets' lives and their poetry even more.
Some of the speculation I did not agree with such as EBB's father not wanting his children to marry because of possible African blood. The birth of Pen Browning should have eradicated that concern. We may never understand the strange, cruel elder Barrett and fortunately, Dared and Done doesn't hinge on the theory. I did want to know more about the conniving Sophia Eckley - her cause of death for example, since she played such a huge role in the Browning marriage. I was also curious about EBB's illness - oddly, we never do get a diagnosis - only her maintenance cure of morphine and ether.
Remarkably, EBB had the greater reputation as a poet during the Barrett-Browning marriage with Robert Browning for many years being considered the lesser poet. That can make for trouble in the most loving of marriages and re-witnessing the devotion these two gifted poets demonstrated repeatedly is both exceptional and inspiring.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Garman Lord on May 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Those who recall the Barretts of Wimpole Street may remember a pairing of upper echelon Victorian poets, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, who lived a life together as strange as anything in their poetry. So strange, in fact, as to have rather fallen out of history, as their fashion faded, as if too big or awkward for the flow of it. Today the fame of the Brownings, in life and in verse, is no longer common currency in the popular fancy or other than among specialists, but in their day they were the talk of the town, in London and Florence, at least, and deservedly so.

In brief, their story ran like this: She was the London home-bound invalid daughter of a father who, from a Jamaican slave-owning planter family, eccentrically refused to let any of his many offspring marry and bear children, on threat of disinheritance, apparently, it is suggested, because of a suspicion of dark slave-blood in his family tree and a fear of perpetuating it. Her sequestered illness, whatever it may have been, never adequately diagnosed, apparently, left her with nothing worthwhile in her fallow young life but an urge to express her spirit through a marvellous poetic gift, which, magnified by the mystery swirling around her personal life, made her famous enough to attract the infatuated attention of another poet, Robert Browning, who thus fell in love with her at second hand, sought out and courted her in secrecy, won her heart and eloped with her to Italy, where they lived out their marriage safe from her wealthy and powerful father's wrath. In Italy both their love and their poetry flourished, bringing fame, the fellowship of the Euro-American cultural cogniscenti of the age and, eventually, a living, to the pair of them, and in due time a beautiful healthy son to dote upon.
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