Shortlisted for the 2022 Plutarch Award
A Washington Post 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Year
New York Times Review of Books Editors' Choice Non-Fiction Title
Longlisted for the 2022 PEN / Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
A Sunday Times Best Paperback of 2022
'Brilliant, heart-stopping … reads like a thriller, a memoir and a provocative piece of literary fiction all at the same time … magical and compelling' Washington Post
'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,' Elizabeth Barrett Browning famously wrote, shortly before defying her family by running away to Italy with Robert Browning. But behind the romance of her extraordinary life stands a thoroughly modern figure, who remains an electrifying study in self-invention.
Elizabeth was born in 1806, a time when women could neither attend university nor vote, and yet she achieved lasting literary fame. She remains Britain's greatest woman poet, whose work has inspired writers from Emily Dickinson to George Eliot and Virginia Woolf.
This vividly written biography, the first full study for over thirty years, incorporates recent archival discoveries to reveal the woman herself: a literary giant and a high-profile activist for the abolition of slavery who believed herself to be of mixed heritage; and a writer who defied chronic illness and long-term disability to change the course of cultural history. It holds up a mirror to the woman, her art – and the art of biography itself.