Aurora Leigh

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s epic “Aurora Leigh” which was published in 1856. It is the story of an orphan, Aurora, born in Italy to an English father and Tuscan mother, who is brought up by an aunt in rural Shropshire. She has a successful career as a poet in London and, when living in Florence, is reunited with her cousin, Romney Leigh, whose proposal she turned down a decade before. The poem was celebrated by other poets and was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s most commercially successful. Over 11,000 lines, she addressed many Victorian social issues, including reform, illegitimacy, the pressure to marry and what women must overcome to be independent, successful writers, in a world dominated by men.

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  • Margaret Reynolds 2 episodes
    Professor of English at Queen Mary, University of London
  • Daniel Karlin 3 episodes
    Winterstoke Professor of English Literature at the University of Bristol
  • Karen O'Brien 16 episodes
    Professor of English Literature at King's College London

Reading list

  • Aurora Leigh
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning (ed. Margaret Reynolds) (W. W. Norton & Company, 1996) Google Books →
  • Aurora Leigh and Other Poems
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning (ed. John Bolton and Julia Holloway) (Penguin Classics, 1995) Google Books →
  • Aurora Leigh
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning (ed. Kerry McSweeney) (Oxford University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning - 21st Century Oxford Authors
    Josie Billington and Philip Davis (eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2014)
  • Victorian Women Poets
    Alison Chapman (ed.) (D. S. Brewer, 2005)
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    Margaret Forster (Doubleday, 1989) Google Books →
  • Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett: The Courtship Correspondence, A Selection
    Daniel Karlin (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 1989) Google Books →
  • The Courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett
    Daniel Karlin (Oxford University Press, 1999) Google Books →
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Key Women Writers Series
    Angela Leighton (Indiana University Press, 1986) Google Books →
  • Victorian Women Poets: Writing Against the Heart
    Angela Leighton (Prentice-Hall, 1992) Google Books →
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Letters to Her Sister Arabella
    Scott Lewis (ed.) (Wedgestone Press, 2002) Google Books →
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning: The Origins of a New Poetry
    Dorothy Mermin (University of Chicago Press, 1989) Google Books →
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    Marjorie Stone (Macmillan, 1995) Google Books →
  • Flush
    Virginia Woolf (Penguin, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Common Reader: Second Series
    Virginia Woolf (ed. Andrew McNeillie) (Mariner Books, 2003) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b0745d37

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Auto-category: 821.8 (English poetry–19th century–Victorian era)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's epic poem, Aurora Leigh, was published at the end of 1856.