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Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prolific writer and reviewer in the Victorian period, and in her lifetime, her reputation as a poet was at least as great as that of her husband, poet Robert Browning. Some of her poetry has been noted in recent years for strong feminist themes, but the poems for which Elizabeth Barrett Browning is undoubtedly best know are Sonnets from the Portuguese. Written for Robert Browning, who had affectionately nicknamed her his "little Portuguese," the sequence is a celebration of marriage, and of one of the most famous romances of the nineteenth century. Recognized for their Victorian tradition and discipline, these are some of the most passionate and memorable love poems in the English language. There are forty-four poems in the collection, including the very beautiful sonnet, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born in 1806. A semi-invalid for most of her early life, she won a great reputation with the appearance of her Poems (1844). The book attracted the admiration of Robert Browning, who secretly courted her for two years before the couple's celebrated elopement to Italy in 1846. In Italy, Elizabeth's health improved; she threw herself into European politics and wrote what is perhaps her best-known work, Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850). She died in 1861, and her Last Poems appeared in that same year.