What Illness Did Elizabeth Barrett Browning Have

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prolific British poet who was active in the Romantic movement during the 19th century. She was best known for her collection of 44 love sonnets called Sonnets from the Portuguese.

Though her life was incredibly productive and full of accomplishments, Elizabeth Barrett Browning suffered from a long-term illness that greatly limited her physical mobility. The nature and name of her illness has been disputed throughout the years. While some believe she suffered from tuberculosis or chronic bronchitis, many experts believe that she was a victim of rheumatic heart disease.

Rheumatic heart disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by a streptococcus infection, typically in the form of strep throat. The bacteria attack the lining of the heart, resulting in inflammation and damaged heart valves. Other symptoms include pain, tenderness, and warmth around the affected area, as well as shortness of breath, fatigue and fever. In Barrett Browning’s case, she was not able to walk more than a few steps unassisted and was confined to her bed for most of her life.

The condition affected Barrett Browning greatly, as it inhibited her from pursuing many of her interests. In spite of this, she continued to write poetry throughout her illness. Her love of poetry and her strong faith provided her the strength to cope with her painful condition. Though her life was difficult, she still managed to create beautiful and meaningful art.

It is difficult to diagnose Barrett Browning’s condition definitively, as she lived in an era before modern medicine and did not have access to the same treatments and facilities that we now have. However, it is clear that her illness was a major obstacle in her life and was a contributing factor to her declining health. Despite her condition, Barrett Browning’s ongoing drive to create and her strong faith allowed her to achieve greatness.

The Impact of Her Illness

Barrett Browning’s physical decline had a great effect on her creativity and daily life. As her illness progressed, her work became less frequent and her prospects for a long and healthy life began to fade. Many historians believe that witnessing the suffering of her family and friends from the same illness may have hindered her mentally and emotionally.

Throughout her life, Barrett Browning faced extreme poverty and had to support her family. This challenge served to motivate her to write, as she sought to provide for her family through her poetry. She wrote in a wide range of styles, including classical, religious, romantic, and other poetic forms. Her success through writing, however, failed to make a substantial impact on her overall health.

The limitations imposed by her illness provided a sense of confinement and isolation, which hindered and prevented her from fully engaging with the world around her. With the progress of her disease, her ability to write and be physically active was marginalized, and eventually she was completely bedridden.

In spite of the limitations imposed by her poor health, Barrett Browning remained an incredibly productive artist, able to capture the complexities of her experience through her work. Her illness taught her to appreciate life and its fragility, which comes through in her writings.

Barrett Browning’s Legacy

Though she died in 1861, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s legacy still resonates today. She was an inspiration for many writers, poets, and feminists, paving the way for later generations to come. Many authors and literary critics have attributed much of their creative inspiration to her works and her life.

In her writing, Barrett Browning deeply explored themes of love, suffering, and death. Her bold use of language and her refusal to shy away from difficult topics provided solace and inspiration to many of her readers. Her works served as a source of comfort and understanding to those facing hardships, making her an iconic figure in literature.

To this day, Barrett Browning’s poetry is admired and studied in numerous countries around the world. She is remembered for her courage, strength, and faith. It is no doubt her legacy will continue for many years to come.

Disputed Diagnosis

As previously mentioned, there is much debate over the name and exact nature of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s illness. In the past, many experts have attributed her condition to tuberculosis or chronic bronchitis. However, current experts believe that she had rheumatic heart disease.

Rheumatic heart disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by a streptococcus infection. This infection typically takes the form of a strep throat in individuals. Through this infection, the bacteria attacks the lining of the heart, causing swellings, pain, and tenderness around the affected area. Additional symptoms of the condition include shortness of breath, fatigue, and fever, all of which Barrett Browning experienced.

Though Barrett Browning lived in an era before modern medicine, her symptoms and condition are consistent with rheumatic heart disease. This diagnosis is backed by numerous medical experts of the time, making it highly likely that this was the illness she relied with.

Medical Advancements

Thanks to modern medical advancements, the effects of rheumatic heart disease can now be better managed. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and long-term care to help reduce pain, inflammation, and fatigue. Many treatments are now also available to replace damaged heart valves, allowing for greater mobility and quality of life for individuals suffering from the condition.

While Elizabeth Barrett Browning was unable to benefit from these advances, countless individuals now receive better treatment and care than those in the past. Thus, Barrett Browning’s legacy has been extended through the improvement of rheumatic heart disease.

Educational Resources

Nowadays, there are various resources available online to help spread awareness of rheumatic heart disease. Numerous organizations have set up websites to educate the public and provide support to those affected by the illness.

Social media platforms are also used to spread awareness and understanding of the condition. Through platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, many organizations are able to reach a wide audience, raising funds and providing support to those in need.

These online resources serve to provide education and understanding of the condition, allowing individuals to seek help and seek out treatment. Much of this work is inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whose legacy continues to be a source of inspiration for many.

Inspirational Works

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s works continue to be an inspiration to many contemporary writers. Her works explore timeless themes of love, suffering, and resilience. The strength and conviction shown in her poetry can be seen as a source of courage and hope to those facing adversity.

Barrett Browning’s legacy transcends time. Her courage and strength in the face of adversity, and her refusal to let her struggles consume her make her an icon for many. Her courage and resilience serve to remind us of the strength we can find in ourselves when facing adversity.

Though she suffered from a long-term illness, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was still able to achieve success in her writing and her life. Her life and her courage show us that no matter what obstacles we face, we can still strive to reach our goals and lead successful and fulfilling lives.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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