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Aurora Leigh

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's novel-poem published in 1856, three years before her death in Florence.

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.


Margaret Reynolds
Professor of English at Queen Mary, University of London

Daniel Karlin
Winterstoke Professor of English Literature at the University of Bristol


Karen O'Brien
Professor of English Literature at King's College London

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

47 minutes

Last on

Thu 24 Mar 2016 21:30


Margaret Reynolds at Queen Mary, University of London

Daniel Karlin at the University of Bristol

Karen O'Brien at King's College London

Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Wikipedia



Elizabeth Barrett Browning (ed. Margaret Reynolds), Aurora Leigh (W. W. Norton & Company, 1996)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (ed. John Bolton and Julia Holloway), Aurora Leigh and Other Poems (Penguin Classics, 1995)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (ed. Kerry McSweeney), Aurora Leigh, (Oxford University Press, 2008)

Josie Billington and Philip Davis (eds.), Elizabeth Barrett Browning - 21st Century Oxford Authors (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Alison Chapman (ed.), Victorian Women Poets (D. S. Brewer, 2005)

Margaret Forster, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Doubleday, 1989)

Daniel Karlin (ed.), Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett: The Courtship Correspondence, A Selection (Oxford University Press, 1989)

Daniel Karlin, The Courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett (Oxford University Press, 1999)

Angela Leighton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Key Women Writers Series (Indiana University Press, 1986)

Angela Leighton, Victorian Women Poets: Writing Against the Heart (Prentice-Hall, 1992)

Scott Lewis (ed.) Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Letters to Her Sister Arabella (Wedgestone Press, 2002)

Dorothy Mermin, Elizabeth Barrett Browning: The Origins of a New Poetry (University of Chicago Press, 1989)

Marjorie Stone, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Macmillan, 1995), especially Chapter 4, ‘Juno’s Cream: Aurora Leigh and Victorian Sage Discourse’

Virginia Woolf, Flush (first published 1933; Penguin, 2016)

Virginia Woolf (ed. Andrew McNeillie), The Common Reader: Second Series (first published 1932; Mariner Books, 2003)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Margaret Reynolds
Interviewed Guest Daniel Karlin
Interviewed Guest Karen O'Brien
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 24 Mar 2016 09:00
  • Thu 24 Mar 2016 21:30

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