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Aurora Leigh Summary
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Everything you need to understand or teach Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

  • Aurora Leigh Summary & Study Guide
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Aurora Leigh Summary


As early as 1844, Elizabeth Barrett wrote Robert Browning that she was thinking about writing a novel in verse form on modern themes. Several years later, she began work on Aurora Leigh (1857), which turned into one of the longest poems in the English language in its number of lines. Browning thought it her most mature work, and it turned out to be her biggest commercial success. Aurora Leigh deals with some of the major social problems of her age, particularly the difficulty of being a professional woman. There is a frank treatment in the story of the “fallen woman” in an effort to show an unwed mother as a victim and not necessarily someone to be condemned, as was the Victorian practice. The poem also reveals a distrust of socialist theory, in that Browning feared that communist-style communities would exclude artists and poets.

Aurora Leigh elicited much praise from the...

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