Robert Browning was born in Camberwell, the son of a cultured Bank of England clerk. His father, a bibliophile, was a linguist and encouraged his son to become proficient in Greek, Latin, French and Italian. His mother was a devout Evangelical who gave Browning his abiding interest in both religion and music. He frequented the Dulwich Picture Gallery and became an admirer of the Romantics, particularly Byron, Shelley and Keats. He read Voltaire and acquired something of that author’s gifts for sceptical argument.
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