ROBIN L. INBODEN hen Elizabeth Barrett famously complained in 1845 to Henry Chorley that she "look[ed] everywhere for Grandmothers and [found] none," she neglected to mention that her early reviewers seemed as eager as she to find an appropriate genealogy for her poetry.1 To read nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century critical views of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetry is to see her compared to everyone from Chaucer to Tennyson, and with particular gusto to earlier nineteenth-century writers, especially Byron and Wordsworth. From early reviews of Elizabeth Barrett's work to Dorothy Mermin's groundbreaking book to Marjorie Stone's indispensable 1995 study of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, many critics have noted her connections to the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but there has been little sustained examination of those connections, as there has been with Barrett Browning and other Romantic writers.2 While Barrett herself wrote a noted essay in praise of Wordsworth, her critical opinions of Coleridge were shared primarily in much more personal venues. Barrett Browning recalled reading Coleridge enthusiastically while yet a girl at Hope End; later, I will argue, Coleridge becomes a shared mentor figure for Barrett and Mary Russell Mitford. But to Hugh Boyd, her much older male mentor, Barrett wrote
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Jun 15, 2008
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