The Bicentenary of Robert Browning – 7 May 2012 | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


The Bicentenary of Robert Browning – 7 May 2012

Robert Browning was born in Camberwell, London, on 7 May 1812. We didn’t actually know that much about Browning till recently, but we think that anyone who acted as the muse for a poem like ‘How Do I Love Thee?’ must have something going for them. Besides, we have a soft spot for eloping poets.

There are dozens of interesting stories about Browning in the BNA, so we’ve been able to learn more about his life and poetry via the archive. In particular, we loved reading about the poet’s ancestry. For Browning’s family embodied an amazing mix of Dutch, Jewish, Scottish and English forebears, and his ancestral gallimaufry is a terrific story in itself.

We’ve posted below the newspaper notice for his marriage to Elizabeth Barrett – from the ‘Northampton Mercury’ of Saturday 26 September 1846. We noticed that there seems to be an unaccounted period of two weeks between the elopement and the marriage (though, sadly, newspapers tend not to carry announcements of elopements), but we decided to draw a diplomatic veil over their ‘elopement honeymoon’. So why not celebrate this bicentenary by searching the archive to learn more about Robert Browning’s life and his pioneering use of the dramatic monologue?

Marriage Notice for Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett

Northampton Mercury – Saturday 26 September 1846



Portrait of Robert Browning

The Graphic – Saturday 21 December 1889




1 comments On The Bicentenary of Robert Browning – 7 May 2012

  • Would you by any chance have come across reference to Elizabeth Barrett and her brother Edward Moulton Barrett’s tutor – Daniel McSwiney, M.A. – who taught them classics when they were young teenagers. D.McS is my 4th gr-grandfather and I have been trying in vain to find when he arrived in England from Cork, Ireland, and where he earned his M.A. degree (he was R.C.). Thank you for any information.

    I have the following info on him:
    Daniel left Ireland with a M.A. degree (before 1817 from which University?) and was hired by Mr Barrett to tutor in the Classics his son Edward Moulton Barrett, and subsequently 12 year old Elizabeth Barrett, who became the poet,

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    Poem “Miss Barrett Barrett,” by Daniel McSwiney, 19 September 1820″ “The Reading Experience Database Record Number 15980”

    23 Jun 1822 Country: England Citation: Philip Kelley and Ronald Hudson (ed.), The Brownings’ Correspondence (Winfield, 1984), 1, p. 159, – States Daniel was “Professional / academic, Country of origin: Ireland , Country of experience: England ”

    Edward Moulton Barrett to his sister Elizabeth Barrett (Browning), 24 June 1822: ‘Mr. McSwiney dined with us yesterday and was shown your Greek epitaph, in the first place he says Anacreontic measure is not proper for an epitaph,it ought to be Hexameters or Pentameters, in the second place you must send down the translation of it, as he cannot make out your meaning. He also saw your lines which were sent to Colburns [i.e to Henry Colburn, founder of the New Monthly Magazine] and thinks them quite beautiful but it is not adapted to the public, as it is not so interesting to them not knowing the circumstances which attended it.

    Daniel subsequently moved to Brighton, England and married into the Allfree family – who owned educational establishments in Tunbridge Wells, Herstmonceux and Brighton (where he worked as a teacher).

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