Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Fiona Sampson in conversation with Peter Salmon about a remarkable poet

Due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been rescheduled. It will now take place on Tuesday 23 March 2021, 19.30 – 20.30. Previously booked tickets will still be valid.

This is an online event hosted by Unique Media. Bookers will be sent a link in advance giving access and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways," poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning famously wrote, shortly before defying her family by running away to Italy with Robert Browning. But behind the romance of her extraordinary life stands a thoroughly modern figure, who remains an electrifying study in self-invention.

Born in 1806, a time when women could neither own property once married nor vote, Barrett Browning seized control of her private income, overcame long-term illness, eloped to revolutionary Italy with Browning, and achieved lasting literary fame.

A feminist icon, international superstar, a literary giant and a high-profile activist for the abolition of slavery who believed herself to be of mixed heritage, she inspired writers as diverse as Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, and Virginia Woolf.

Fiona Sampson’s new Two-Way Mirror is the first biography of Barrett Browning in more than three decades, written with unique access to the poet’s abundant correspondence and recent archival discoveries to reveal the woman herself. Joining Fiona in the conversation will be novelist and biographer Peter Salmon.

This event will also feature readings of a selection of Barrett Browning’s poems by Mark Padmore, an acclaimed tenor with an international career in opera, concert and recital.

Buy your copy of Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning at checkout for £20.00 (including UK postage – non UK postage extra) and watch the event at no extra cost.*

Praise for Two-Way Mirror

'Beautifully told. It is high time Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Aurora Leigh were once again household names.' Mail on Sunday

'The award-winning poet Fiona Sampson … in her intriguing biography of and meditation on EBB, making the convincing claim that she was the first female lyric poet'  Sunday Times

'Fiona Sampson’s passionate and exacting biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a … bristling lyric sandwich of philosophy and action… rendering her intense sustained gaze extraordinarily intimate.' Irish Times

'…this fine biography, the first since Margaret Forster’s more than 30 years ago… spot-on.' Guardian 

Fiona Sampson is a leading poet and writer, published in 38 languages. Her 27 books include eight poetry collections, an edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the critically acclaimed In Search of Mary Shelley. Broadcaster, critic and literary translator, she was editor of Poetry Review 2005-12 and is Emeritus Professor, University of Roehampton. Sampson is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Wordsworth Trust and a Trustee of the Royal Literary Fund; her honours include an MBE for services to literature, the Newdigate Prize, Cholmondeley Award, Hawthornden Fellowship, and multiple awards from the Arts Councils of England and Wales, Society of Authors, Poetry Book Society and Arts and Humanities Research Council. She lives in an old Herefordshire farmhouse not far from Elizabeth's beloved Hope End and is at work on a book about the Romantics' rural legacy.

Peter Salmon is an Australian writer living in the UK. His new biography of Jacques Derrida An Event Perhaps, was described in Prospect magazine as ‘Brilliant ... one of the clearest introductions to 20th-century continental philosophy available – a scintillating account of Derrida's life and thought’ and ‘Thrilling’ in the Times.

Mark Padmore was born in London and studied at King’s College, Cambridge. He has established an international career in opera, concert and recital. In opera Mark has worked with directors Peter Brook, Katie Mitchell, Mark Morris and Deborah Warner. In concert Mark performs with the world’s leading orchestras and was Artist in Residence for the 2017-18 Season with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Mark gives recitals worldwide and in 2016 was voted Vocalist of the Year by Musical America.

*Books purchased will be dispatched within 7 days after the event by our bookseller Pages of Hackney, with whom we will share your address. Please ensure your address is up to date on your British Library account.

Image: Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Elliott & Fry © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Name: Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Price: Ticket: £5.00
Ticket plus book: £20.00
Book with non-UK postage and Ticket: £27.50
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546