To express his admiration for her work, on January 10, 1845, Robert Browning wrote a letter to Elizabeth Barrett.
Thus began a correspondence which would lead to one of the great love stories
of the 19th century.
Elizabeth was a 39 year old spinster at this
time. She also suffered from a back injury. While one would expect
most parents to be happy in such a situation that their child was able to
find some happiness, such was not the case. Elizabeth's father
bitterly opposed their union.
Robert Browning's family likewise had
misgivings due to Elizabeth's precarious health.
Twenty months and 575
letters after the first letter arrived, the couple secretly married
on September 12, 1846.
Elizabeth and her father never reconciled
even though the marriage proved fruitful and the couple had a son.
The Brownings moved to Italy where Elizabeth's health improved and they
lived for the most part in Florence. After 15 years of a happy
marriage, Elizabeth died in Robert's arms on June 29, 1861.