Lady’s Maid, Margaret Forster


One quick method to make me not finish your book: Talk shit about Robert Browning.

I was reading this book Lady’s Maid, which is a story about Elizabeth Barrett Browning from the point of view of her maid, Wilson, and for a while I was only bothered by how little Robert Browning there was in the book.  I kept reading, expecting to see more of dear, sweet, lovely Robert Browning (born on my birthday!), and very little was forthcoming.  And I was only half paying attention to it while I was reading it, because in my mind I kept thinking, You know, that is a problem with many books I have been reading throughout my life – not enough Robert Browning.  All books should contain more Robert Browning.  That would be an improvement over the current situation in which only a minority of books include Robert Browning at all.

After a while I got so fed up with the lack of Robert Browning that I flipped to the end to read Elizabeth’s death scene.  Because obviously that would have to contain Robert Browning, because he was with her when she died, and no matter what Margaret Forster would have to say a thing or two about Robert Browning then.  And that was okay, so I flipped to the last page to see what was going to happen ultimately, and it turned out to be that Margaret Forster was going to say what was true in her book and what she had made up.  She said that Wilson was impoverished later in her life, and “Robert Browning sent her an allowance of 10 pounds a year, while making it clear he felt no obligation to do so.”

I just don’t appreciate her tone.  I really love Robert Browning, and I don’t want to hear anyone taking a critical tone at him.  What a darling dear he was!  What a good birthday he had!  In the interests of not reading anything more that was unfriendly at the darling Brownings, I quit reading Lady’s Maid.  So there.  THE BROWNINGS WERE ALWAYS PERFECT ALL THE TIME AND I AM NOT LISTENING TO ANYTHING ELSE YOU SAY ABOUT THEM.  *puts fingers in ears and hums*

(They have a miraculous love.)

3 thoughts on “Lady’s Maid, Margaret Forster

  1. Well, he sort of reminds me of my father in some ways. So essentially when someone says something nasty about Robert Browning, it’s like they’re saying nasty things about my father.

    And also, he wrote good poems. (Robert Browning, not my father.) And he sounds very sweet. Have you ever read their letters to each other from before they were married?

  2. I haven’t, no. I’ve just read a selection of his poems, and by her I’ve read Sonnets from the Portuguese and Aurora Leigh. I did read some of her letters when I studied Aurora Leigh, but mostly they were about her writing. You really made me curious about those, though. They do sound very sweet.

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