Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Browning, Robert

(1812-1889) UK poet, remembered as much for his association and marriage with Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1881) as for his dramatic and lyrical poetry. From the outset RB's writing was dark and sinister, as betrayed in his first work, Pauline (1833 chap). Much of his later work, though lightened of its morbidity, gave serious vent to RB's awe of the divine and the growth and development of the Soul, a theme explored in Paracelsus (1835 chap), Sordello (1840 chap) and Luria and A Soul's Tragedy (1846 chap). Dramatis Personae (coll 1864) allowed for an even greater mystical, psychological and spiritual insight into human and religious experience, including RB's views on Immortality. Perhaps his most enigmatic poem in this vein is "'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came'" (1855 in Men and Women), in which a world-weary Knight faces his final challenge (> Childe; Dark Tower). In only slightly lighter vein was his ever popular "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (1842 in Dramatic Lyrics), probably the best known interpretation of the old Folktale (> Pied Piper). RB's masterwork, The Ring and the Book (1868-9 4 parts), based on a notorious 17th-century murder case, is not fantasy but is deep in its interpretation of human psychology. [MA]

Robert Browning

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.