Title: “Thoughts, that breathe, and words, that burn,” or the growth of a writer’s mind: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s diary


Vol. 11(2), 2023, pp. 83-109. 



Author: Yana Rowland

About the author: Yana Rowland is Associate Professor of English literature at the English Department of Paisii Hilendarski University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. She holds an MA in English & Russian (2000, summa cum laude) and a doctoral degree (2006) in English Literature. Her monographs, The Treatment of the Themes of Mortality in the Poetry of the Brontë Sisters (Plovdiv University Press, 2006), Movable Thresholds: On Victorian Poetry and Beyond in Nineteen Glimpses (Plovdiv University Press, 2014) and her study on the reception of Alfred Tennyson in Bulgaria (1880 – 2010) (in The Reception of Alfred Tennyson in Europe, Bloomsbury Academic, 2017, pp. 267–301) reflect her research interests in the area of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century English poetry. Yana Rowland teaches core and elective BA & MA modules in English which include English Literature of the Victorian Age, Modernism and Postmodernism, English-Language Children’s Literature, Literary Anthropology, and Stylistics of the English Language. She has over forty publications, and she has co-edited various academic miscellanies. Since 2015 Yana Rowland has published on Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


ORCID iD:    



Citation (APA): RowlandY. (2023). “Thoughts, that breathe, and words, that burn,” or the growth of a writer’s mind: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s diary. Studies in Linguistics, Culture, and FLT, 11(2), 83-109.


Abstract: Published first in 1969, Diary by E. B. B. (1831–1832) has been an intersection of scholarly debates on nineteenth-century English literature, femininity, diurnal narrative, and aesthetic experience. A confessional document of the last two years of Elizabeth’s life at the family estate of Hope End, the diary throws her unique self-creationist and self-revisionary impulses into relief. It is an outstanding prose-fiction piece of evidence of her overall penchant for self-acclaim by way of self-denial. This paper aims at tracing the development of the woman writer in view of the immediacy and ontological priority of an implied Other found at the core of self-writing, as Elizabeth’s diary signals. A modicum of contextual references to some of E. B. Browning’s poetical works brings out her self-reflexive leanings. Finally, it could be argued that self-questioning distinguishes Elizabeth Barrett Browning as a polemicist whose private diary identifies the concept of time as the kernel of her perception of identity as responsibility. 

Keywords: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, diary, aesthetic experience, memory, Self, time, responsibility


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