Christina Rossetti

Sharon Aronofsky Weltman

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:
Christina Rossetti

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Christina Georgina Rossetti (b. 1830–d. 1894) was a major Victorian poet, arguably the best of the Pre-Raphaelites. She was born in London to Gabriele Rossetti, an Italian poet and professor at King’s College London, and Frances Polidori Rossetti, a religious Italian-Englishwoman from a literary family. The youngest child of four, Christina Rossetti’s siblings included Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the great Pre-Raphaelite painter and poet; William Michael Rossetti, a critic, editor, biographer, and historian; and Maria Francesca Rossetti, who translated Dante and belonged to the Anglican All Saints sisterhood. Christina Rossetti was engaged in 1848 to the Pre-Raphaelite painter James Collinson; that relationship broke up in 1850 when he returned to the Roman Catholic faith. She later fell in love with the linguist Charles Bagot Cayley, whom she declined to marry in 1866, also because of religious differences. In 1871 Rossetti was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. In spite of her being a semi-invalid in the last decades of her life, she remained remarkably productive. Breast cancer struck in early 1892, and—despite surgery—she died in December 1894. Although the narrative poem Goblin Market is her most famous and most anthologized work (even having been made into an off-Broadway musical), all her volumes of poetry and fiction were highly praised in her own time, both in Britain and America; many of her sonnets and other lyrics have become part of the cannon. In addition to separately published poems and prose pieces, Rossetti’s publications (many also published in Boston, New York, or Chicago) include Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862), The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems (1866), Commonplace and Other Stories (1870), Sing-Song: A Nursery Book (1872), Anno Dominus: A Prayer for Each Day of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture (1874), Speaking Likenesses (1874), Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress, and Other Poems (1875), Seek and Find: A Double Series of Short Studies of the Benedicite (1879), Called to be Saints: The Minor Festivals Devotionally Studied, (1881), A Pageant and Other Poems (1881), Letter and Spirit: Notes on the Commandments (1883), Time Flies: A Reading Diary (1885), Poems: New and Enlarged Edition (1890), The Face of the Deep: A Devotional Commentary on the Apocalypse (1892), Verses (1893), and the posthumous New Poems, Hitherto Unpublished or Collected (1896) and Maude: A Story for Girls (1897). All of her books of poetry were dedicated to her mother.

Article.  10099 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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