Time to Write Now By Julaina Kleist-Corwin

About Writing Plus

Elopement as a Writing Prompt

Elizabeth and Robert Browning

Elopement makes an interesting idea for a story. Why does a couple elope? A writer who organizes the secret details into a plot arc along with character arcs develops a successful tale. On September 13, 1846, Elizabeth Barrett eloped with Robert Browning. Why?

In 1838, Barret published her first poetry volume and in 1844 her second one. Browning, a son of a bank clerk, wrote poetry with adapted dramatic monologue. The critics rejected his work, but Barret defended it. Browning wrote her a thank you note and asked to meet her.

They met and then had a secret courtship because Barrett’s father disliked Browning, judging him a fortune hunter. Barrett, who had wealth and position, lived in her father’s 20-bedroom mansion. She had poor health, suffering from weak lungs. When her family went away for a while, she secretly married Browning and they ran away to Italy. She never saw her father again.

The couple lived in Italy for 15 years. Barrett’s health improved and they had a son in 1849. Her reputation was greater than Browning’s was but later the critics accepted his work. Barrett, at 55 years old, died in Browning’s arms in 1861. (Information from History.com)

A disapproving family member is often the reason for elopement. What other reasons are there?

Limited time and finances are considerations. One of my family members eloped because she had been married in the white dress and had the big celebration and didn’t think it was necessary to go through all that fuss again. She and her fiancee agreed that elopement would be an adventure and it was. After the Justice of the Peace performed the ceremony, they left for the weekend from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois. They registered at a hotel without knowing there was a wedding going on there. The bride and groom walked through the lobby and overheard my relatives saying they had been married that morning.  The bride invited them to celebrate with her wedding party.

Elopement as a writing prompt can lead to many different stories.


  1. Ann Winfred says:

    Fun idea writing — a story about a couple’s elopement. My mind’s buzzing. Thanks!!!

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