Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) was an English poet and political thinker. She lived for years as an invalid, dominated by her father. After escaping her father's control she completed her most well known work "Sonnets from the Portuguese." This set of love poems was written for the poet Robert Browning-- who first admired her poetry, then became her friend, and finally her husband. As a married couple they moved to Italy, where her health improved dramatically.
After moving to Italy, Barrett Browning increasingly took up contemporary issues and debates including the Italian Nationalist cause, the abolition of slavery in the United States, and the position of women in Victorian society. In 1856 she wrote "Aurora Leigh," in which she defends a woman's right to intellectual freedom and writes about the concerns of the female artist.
Listen to Book II from "Aurora Leigh," a seminal poem advocating women's rights, read by Diana Quick taken from "The Caedmon Collection of English Poetry" (HarperAudio.)