Aurora Leigh

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Aurora Leigh's Dismissal of Romney ("The Tryst") by Arthur Hughes (circa 1860) Aurora Leigh (1856) is an epic novel/poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The poem is written in blank verse and encompasses nine books (the woman's number, the number of the Sibylline Books). It is a first person narration, from the point of view of Aurora; its other heroine, Marian Erle, is an abused self-taught child of itinerant parents. The poem is set in Florence, Malvern, London and Paris. The author uses her knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, while also playing off modern novels, such as Corinne ou l'Italie by Anne Louise Germaine de Staël and the novels by George Sand. As far as Book 5, Aurora narrates her past, from her childhood to the age of about 27; in Books 6–9, the narrative has caught up with her, and she reports events in diary form. Elizabeth Barrett Browning styled the poem "a novel in verse", and referred to it as "the most mature of my works, and the one into which my highest convictions upon Life and Art have entered." Scholar Deirdre David asserts that Barrett Browning's work in Aurora Leigh has made her into "a major figure in any consideration of the nineteenth-century woman writer and of Victorian poetry in general." John Ruskin called it the greatest long poem of the nineteenth century.