Robert Browning was born May 7, 1812, in Camberwell, England. His mother was a pianist and his father was an artist and scholar, making Robert’s education a high priority. Browning could read and write by the age of five, and he had learned Latin, Greek and French by the time he was a teenager. Most of his education was at home with tutors, but he attended the University of London for a brief time. An admirer of Percy Shelley’s poetry, Browning wrote and published some of his own poetry and plays in the mid 1830’s to 1840, but his work was generally not received well by the public.
In 1846, Browning married popular poet Elizabeth Barrett after reading her work and corresponding with her through letters. They soon moved to Italy, where they remained until Elizabeth’s death in 1861. The couple had a son in 1849, and by 1855, Browning published Men and Women, a collection of poems now considered one of his best. Like the work of many poets, however, it did not receive much praise during his lifetime. One work that did receive public approval, however, was The Ring and the Book, published in 1868. It was during this later period in his career that he was finally mentioned among poets like Tennyson. Although his plays were usually labeled as somewhat obscure, Browning is now credited with developing, at the time, new techniques in his dramatic monologues, which greatly influenced twentieth century successors such as T.S. Elliot and Robert Frost.