May 7 1812: Birth of Robert Browning

On May 7 1812, Robert Browning was born in Camberwell, a suburb of London, the first child of Robert and Sarah Anna Browning. His mother's maiden name was Sarah Anna Wiedemann. She was the daughter of a German shipowner and his Scottish wife. She was a fervent Evangelical and an accomplished pianist. Browning’s paternal grandfather owned a sugar plantation in Saint Kitts, West Indies together with the slaves that operated the plantation. As a young man, Browning's father had been sent to Saint Kitts to oversee the plantation, but he was so revolted by slavery that he returned to England to become a clerk in the Bank of England. He went on to raise a family, and collect a library of some 6,000 volumes that his son Robert read and turned in the sweet lines of his poetry.

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