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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials: Robert Browning

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Robert Browning was a nineteenth century English Romantic poet. He is especially well known for his dramatic monologues. Among his best known poems are My Last Duchess, Fra Lippo Lippi and The Ring and the Book. He and his wife (poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, known for Sonnets from the Portugese) spent a significant portion of their lives living in Italy.

A portrait of English poet Robert Browning. Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer more tossups. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on Robert Browning.


My Last Duchess is a dramatic monologue by Robert Browning. It tells the story of an Italian nobleman, the Duke of Ferrara, giving a tour of his art collection to a member of his future wife’s family. They stop at a painting of his dead first wife by Fra Pandolf. The Duke then complains that his wife had “heart too soon made glad” and did not appreciate her "nine-hundred-years-old name.". They they then move on to look at a bronze statue of Neptune taming a seahorse sculpted by Claus of Innsbruck.


Porphyria’s Lover tells the story of a man who strangles his lover with "one long yellow string" of her hair. The poem ends with the speaker saying, "and yet, God has not said a word!" about his crime.


Fra Lippo Lippi is the story of the titular Renaissance painter who is ordered to "paint the soul, never mind the legs and arms!" by the Church.


The title girl in Pippa Passes wanders the Italian town of Asolo searching for happiness. Its best-known line is "God's in His heaven / All's right with the world!"


The Ring and the Book is a telling of the true story of the murder trial of Guido Franceschini, an Italian nobleman who is eventually convicted and executed for the murder of his wife.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

* Read My Last Duchess and listen to an audio recording of the poem read by Alfred Molina here.

* Read Porphyria’s Lover here

* Read more about the real-life murder case that inspired The Ring and the Book here.

* Watch D.W. Griffith’s 1909 adaptation of Pippa Passes:


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