A closely detailed literary biography by novelist/literary historian Forster (Significant Sisters, 1985; Marital Rites, 1982; etc.) that incorporates newly discovered manuscript material relating to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's childhood and family life. Browning, author of the verse-novel Aurora Leigh (1856) and many other works, is an important literary figure, but her personal history has long overshadowed her literary achievements. This account of her life has mythic elements of gothic romance: there is the beautiful, semi-invalid woman, sensitive and intellectual, yearning for fulfillment but imprisoned in the Wimpole Street ""castle"" dominated by her ""ogre""father; there is the ""Prince Charming"" who arrives in the person of Robert Browning to whirl her off to the warm land of sunny Italy--where they love passionately, write poetry, bring up their child, and generally ""live happily ever after"" until her death in 1861 at the age of 55. The story has been told often. The special claim of this version is that it includes numerous new personal documents that reveal details so intimate that one sometimes feels as if one is peeking right into the subject's mid-19th-century English household. There is much, for example, about such things as how uncomfortable the heat of the summer of 1842 was for Elizabeth's dog, Flush, and how 1844 brought Elizabeth a bitter blow when her maid quit (yes, she really had married the butler in secret, and, yes, she was pregnant!). An unusually vivid biography, full of minute, telling details--and a vibrant portrait of Victorian family life.