Of sad and wished-for years: Elizabeth Barrett Browning's lifelong illness

Anne Buchanan Weiss, Ellen Buchanan Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


TheVictorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning suffered for most of her life from an illness that her physicians were never able to diagnose, and that Barrett Browning scholars and others have tried to diagnose since her death in 1861. Many suggestions have been offered, but none has been convincing. By happenstance, my daughter was reading the correspondence of Elizabeth and Robert Browning not long ago, and she recognized the symptoms described as those of the rare muscle-weakening disorder she herself has, hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HKPP).The evidence from Barrett Browning's letters and the diary she kept when she was 25 strongly suggest she too had HKPP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-503
Number of pages25
JournalPerspectives in Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 31 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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