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By Robert Browning

• Browning was born in


London in 1812.

• His father worked for


the Bank of England
and was a great
reader, who owned
over 6000 books.

• Browning inherited his


father’s love for
literature and the arts,
and wrote his first
poem at the age of
six.
• By the age of fourteen, Browning was
fluent in Latin, Greek, Italian and
French.

• He could easily have gone to Oxford


or Cambridge; however, in those
days they were only open to Church
of England followers and Browning’s
family were evangelical.
• Browning married
another famous
poet, Elizabeth
Barrett, who had
been living as an
invalid and had not
left her bedroom for
five years.

• They were forced to


marry in secret as
Barrett’s father
disapproved of any
of his children
marrying.
• Browning spirited his new wife off to
Italy, where they spent their lives
happily and comfortably until
Barrett’s death in 1861.

• Browning died at his son Robert’s


home in 1889.
• My Last Duchess is written in the form
of a dramatic monologue.

• Browning wrote lots of poems in this


style and they were very popular in the
Victorian period.

• A dramatic monologue has only one


speaker. Over the course of the poem,
the speaker unintentionally reveals
certain things about themselves.
• The speaker in the
poem is Alfonso II,
fifth Duke of Ferrara
(a province in Italy),
who lived from 1533
– 1598.

• When he was 25 he
married Lucrezia di
Cosimo de’ Medici,
whose father was
the Grand Duke of
Tuscany. She was 14
years old at the
time.
• Lucrezia’s family were noveau riche –
they would have been pleased by
Alfonso’s ‘gift of a nine-hundred year
old name’.

• Lucrezia was not well educated but


would have come with a sizeable
dowry.

• Lucrezia died very suddenly at the age


of 17, and many people believed that
she had been poisoned.
• After the death of Lucrezia, the Duke went
on to marry again.

• This time, his wife was the daughter of the


Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, Barbara.

• The marriage appears to have been a happy


one until Barbara’s death from tuberculosis
in 1572.

• His third wife was Barbara’s fifteen-year old


niece, Margherita Gonzaga.