Elizabeth Barrett was born at Coxhoe Hall, Durham, England. Elizabeth was educated at home, learning Greek, Latin, and several modern languages at an early age. In 1819, her father arranged for the printing of one of her poems (she was 13 at the time.)
In 1821, Elizabeth injured her spine as a result of a fall. When her brother died in 1838, she seemingly became a permanent invalid. She spent the majority of her time in her room writing poetry. In 1844, Robert Browning wrote to Elizabeth admiring her Poems. He continued to write to her and they were engaged in 1845.
Elizabeth's father disapproved of the courtship and engagement. In 1846, Elizabeth and Robert were secretly wed. Soon the couple ran off to Italy where Elizabeth's health improved. She continued to live in the villa of Casa Guidi for the remainder of her life.
In 1850, Elizabeth's best known book of poems was published Sonnets from the Portugese. They are not translations, but a sequence of 44 sonnets recording the growth of her love for Robert. He often called her "my little Portuguese" because of her dark complextion.
Elizabeth's poems have a diction and rhythm evoking an attractive, spontaneouse quallity though some may seem sentimental. Many of her poems protest what she considered unjust social conditions. She also wrote poems appealing for political freedom for Italy and other countries controlled by foreign nations.
In 1861, Elizabeth Barrett Browning died at the age of 55. Her son, born 1849, and husband returned to England after her death.