'My Name to me a Sadness Wears': Self and Other According to 'Diary by E. B. B.'

Keywords: Elizabeth Barrett Barret, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, diary, Self, Other, care, guilt, death, hermeneutics


This paper dwells on the issue of selfhood in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Diary (1831 – 1832). It explores individuation against three major presences in the poetess’s life: her father (and family), Hugh Stuart Boyd, and literature. The employed strategy of research includes a phenomenological (interspersed with feminist touches) focus on select excerpts from the Diary which reveal the writer’s concern for Self as the recognition of the priority of a precursory Other. Observations are made on the limits of human perception, time and space as human variables, the ontological essence of interpretation, and memory as a premise for cognizing life as care. A rare example of prose-fiction in the poetess’s oeuvre, her diary could be read as an instance of simultaneous self-nullification and self-affirmation, which offers possibilities for a dialectical definition of female genius as dialogue through narrative.

Author Biography

Yana Rowland, Plovdiv University Paisii Hilendarski, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Yana Rowland teaches at the English Department of Plovdiv University in Bulgaria. She holds an MA in English & Russian (summa cum laude, 2000), a doctoral degree (2006) and a full-time associate professorship (2014) from Plovdiv University. Her two monographs, The Treatment of the Themes of Mortality in the Poetry of the Brontë Sisters (Plovdiv: Plovdiv University Press, 2006) and Movable Thresholds: On Victorian Poetry and Beyond in Nineteen Glimpses (Plovdiv: Plovdiv University Press, 2014), reflect her research interests in the area of 19th- and early 20th-century English poetry. Yana Rowland teaches core and elective BA & MA modules in English literature of the Victorian Age, Modern and Postmodern English Literature, English-Language Children’s Literature, Literary Anthropology, and Translation. Recently, she has published on Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


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How to Cite
Rowland, Y. (2021). ’My Name to me a Sadness Wears’: Self and Other According to ’Diary by E. B. B.’. English Studies at NBU, 7(2), 209-226. https://doi.org/10.33919/esnbu.21.2.5