The highest place among poetesses belongs to Elizabeth B. Browning. She far outranks even most of our modern poets. Her pure and lofty sentiment and intellectual power are inferior to none.
Elizabeth was born in London and was a delicate child from infancy. She was naturally quiet and loved being alone. At fifteen she sustained an injury of the spine which further weakened her physically. Being almost bed-ridden, she gave herself to study and began to write. She could see little of the world and so she found or made a world of her own.
In 1839 she burst a blood vessel of the lungs and had to move to a milder climate. Soon afterwards her favorite brother, with two other young men, was drowned while sailing. These physical and mental shocks so weakened her that for years she lived in a darkened room, visited only by her family and a few intimate friends. Yet God saw her through these dark times and brought her out of her trials with a sweet resignation that didn't question her Master's goodness and love. It was through these dark days that her hand produced works that made the world marvel.
It was at this time that her life began to change. Robert Browning had already won for himself a name. He had learned to love the invalid poetess through her works and sought her hand in marriage, to the amazement of her family and friends. He believed that she need not be an invalid all her life; love could win her to health she had never known.
They were married and spent four years in France and Italy. When they returned to England, Elizabeth was a new creature. Hope, love, and the Italian climate had wrought marvels. Theirs was as perfect a union as the world had ever seen. Each had poetic brilliance and power. Each had a marked individuality. Each was a compliment of the other.
Elizabeth Browning possessed the unusual combination of a sharp mind and thoroughly tender heart. She could treat social problems in a masterly way and at the same time she could set forth the most tender, deepest sentiments of a woman's heart.