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Lead book review

Rescuing Elizabeth Barrett Browning from her wax-doll image

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an ambitious, passionate, determined woman – not the sad-eyed invalid of legend, says Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

30 January 2021

9:00 AM

30 January 2021

9:00 AM

Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning Fiona Sampson

Profile, pp.320, 18.99

‘Ah, did you once see Shelley plain?’ asks the speaker in Robert Browning’s poem ‘Memorabilia’ — a line which recognises how easy it is to misread a writer once they’ve passed into a hazy afterlife of fame, neglect or simple misunderstanding. Yet few of Browning’s contemporaries are as hard to see plain as his own wife: the poet who was known to her family as Ba, signed herself EBB, and published a number of popular works under her married name of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

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