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Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Love Letters Digitized

Could anything be more romantic than love letters written between poets at the beginning of their courtship? How about the courtship being carried out in secret, against the wishes of family? How about a secret wedding? How about years of love and companionship, not over until wife dies in husband’s arms, her last uttered word on Earth: “beautiful”?

It sounds like fiction, but is in fact the story of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and her wooing by and marriage to fellow poet Robert Browning. She was six years his elder, and in chronically failing health, and found it difficult to accept that Browning’s affections for her ran as deep as they claimed. He first wrote to her in 1845 to express admiration for her poetry and character. She responded, and the pair corresponded ceaselessly until they secretly married in 1846. They had been writing increasingly ardent letters to each other for 5 months by the time they first met in person.

There are 573 letters between them. While transcriptions of the letters have been available, romantics wanting to see the pen-and-paper whole picture only had the option of viewing the collection in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where they have been displayed since 1930. But now, Baylor University in Texas and Wellesley College have collaborated to digitize the Brownings’ letters and make them available for viewing online – complete with inkblots, smudges, signatures and the rest. That collection of love letters between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning can be found here.

More detail about the project available there, and via the CBC.

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