Browning’s bad timing

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Browning’s bad timing

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Robert Browning's legacy has been unfairly overshadowed by Dickens. Image: The Art Institute of Chicago

History has not treated the Victorian poets kindly. Writing during the age of the novel, and caught between the Romantics’ poetic riches and the modernists’ iconoclasm, Victorian poets were overlooked for much of the 20th century—or worse, condemned as staid, pompous or irrelevant. It is Robert Browning’s additional misfortune to have been born just three months after Charles Dickens (7th May 1812 to Dickens’s 7th February). Compared to the slew of documentaries, adaptations, books and exhibitions that marked Dickens’s bicentenary, the celebrations for Browning, which have been largely restricted to academic circles, are lacklustre. Nevertheless, the 200th anniversary of Browning’s birth deserves notice. Here’s why:

1. Services to the dramatic monologue

The dramatic monologue existed before the Victorian period, but it came of age with Robert Browning. A poetic form in which the speaker is

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Hannah Rosefield

Hannah Rosefield
Hannah Rosefield is a writer and Non-Fiction Editor for Review 31. @henrosefield 

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