Aurora Leigh Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1857

For its original theme and voice, especially, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s verse novel, Aurora Leigh, should be better known. When two fond cousins fall out, one of them, Aurora Leigh, pursues her calling of poetry with great critical success. The other, the rich and high-born Romney, attempts to improve social conditions around and about his manorial hall. Eventually he plights himself to a woman of poor family, Marian. Lady Waldemar, who loves Romney, schemes to get rid of her.

Never mind any small literary debts to Gaskell, Madame de Stael and Charlotte Bronte, in depicting the real suffering of women by means of verse rich with imagery and allusion, Browning achieves something unique.