She was born near Durham, England of a wealthy family; in her early teens she contracted a lung complaint, possibly tuberculosis, although the exact nature has been the subject of much speculation, and was treated as an invalid by her parents. For a girl of that time, she was well-educated, having been allowed to attend lessons with her brother's tutor. She published her first poem, anonymously, at the age of fourteen.
Her most famous work is Sonnets from the Portuguese:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.The family moved to London in 1837, and it was there that Elizabeth met the English poet Robert Browning, whom she married. They went to live in Italy and had one son. She died at their home in Florence and is buried there in the Cimitero Degli Inglesi.