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Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
Sebastian, or Virtue Rewarded
Autograph manuscript signed, ca. 1815?
NYPL, The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature
Elizabeth Barrett planned to become a poet, and began working at her craft
almost as soon as she could write; Sebastian is a very early effort. Barrett’s
ambition is apparent in this title page. Her parents, fortunately for her,
appear not to have told her that a girl couldn’t become an associate
Fellow of the Royal Society, or a doctor of laws, as the initials “FRS
ASS” and “LLD.” imply. Their encouragement extended to sponsoring
her first published book, The Battle of Marathon, which reflected the precocious
fourteen-year-old’s grasp of Greek poetry and history.