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Robert Browning (1812-1889) was born in South London. He was largely self-educated, using his father's extensive library of over 6,000 books. By the age of fourteen he had learned Latin, Greek, French and Italian. He attended the University of London but left in discontent to pursue his own programme of reading. His first book of poetry, Paracelsus (1835), was comparatively well-received and Robert began to meet and make friends with influential writers and artists of the day, including the actor William Macready who encouraged him to write for the stage. Whilst his plays were never very successful, this experience revealed his great talent for the dramatic monologue, in which mode many of his most enduring poems, such as 'My Last Duchess', were written. Robert Browning died in 1889 and is buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
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