Christina Rossetti

Orfeas Katsoulis | Mar 7, 2024

Table of Content


Christina Rossetti (London, December 5, 1830 - London, December 29, 1894) was one of the most important British poets. She excelled in fantasy works, children's poems and religious poetry.

Children and education

Christina Rossetti was born on Charlotte Street (now 105 Hallam Street). Her father, Gabriele Rossetti, was an Italian poet and political exile, and her mother, Frances Polidori, was the sister of John Polidori, friend and physician of Lord Byron. Her grandfather, Gaetano Polidori, owner of a private press, published her first poems. She was the younger sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti and Maria Francesca Rossetti. Christina was a child full of life. She dictated her first story to her mother before she learned to write.

Christina Rossetti was home schooled by her mother and father in religious works and the classics of English literature. She particularly enjoys the works of John Keats, Walter Scott, Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis. The influence of the work of Dante, Petrarch, and other Italian writers who were very present in the family library would have had a profound impact on her future writing. The family homes in Bloomsbury, at 38 and later 50 Charlotte Street, allowed Christina to regularly visit Madame Tussauds, the London Zoo and the newly opened Regent's Park.

In the 1840s, his family faced serious financial difficulties due to his father's deteriorating physical and mental health. In 1843, he was diagnosed with persistent bronchitis, probably tuberculosis. He gave up his teaching position at King's College and died in 1854. Christina Rossetti's mother began teaching to keep the family out of poverty and became a governess, a prospect Christina dreaded. By this time her brother William was working and Gabriel was in art school, leaving Christina at home feeling increasingly isolated. At age 14, she suffered a nervous breakdown and left school. This was followed by several episodes of depression. During this period, she, her mother and sister became deeply interested in the Anglo-Catholic movement that developed in England. Religion continued to play a major role in the poetess' life.

Christina became engaged to the painter James Collinson, one of the founding members of the avant-garde art group, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (founded in 1848). Their engagement was broken off in 1850 when he returned to Catholicism. Later, she had a relationship with the linguist Charles Cayley, but refused to marry him as well for religious reasons. She then refused the advances of the painter John Brett.

Christina was the model for many of her brother's most famous paintings.

In 1849, she became seriously ill again, suffering from depression and, around 1857, experienced a major religious crisis.


Christina Rossetti began to write and date her poems from 1842, mostly imitating her favorite poets. From 1847 she experimented with different verse forms such as sonnets, hymns and ballads; she wrote stories from the Bible, folk tales and the lives of saints. Her early works often include reflections on death and loss, in the pure romantic tradition. In 1848, at the age of 18, she published her first two poems (Death's Chill Between and Heart's Chill Between) in the literary and political journal Athenaeum. Under the pen name Ellen Alleyne, from January to April 1850, she contributed seven poems to the Pre-Raphaelite magazine The Germ, edited by her brother William. This was the beginning of her public career.

Her most famous collection of poems remains Goblin Market and Other Poems, published in 1862, when she was 31. It received rave reviews, making her the most prominent poet of the time. It evokes the goblins, fantastic characters of Anglo-Saxon fairy mythology. The title poem is one of Christina Rossetti's best known works. Although ostensibly about the misadventures of two sisters with goblins, critics have interpreted the play in a variety of ways: seeing it as an allegory about temptation and salvation; a critique of the place of women in Victorian England; and a work about erotic desire and social redemption. Rossetti volunteered from 1859 to 1870 at the Magdalen Convent in Highgate, a shelter for former prostitutes, and it is sometimes suggested that Goblin Market may have been inspired by the "fallen women" she knew.

She is known for her committed and avant-garde positions: pacifist, opposed to cruelty to animals, slavery and prostitution in favor of women's suffrage. The ephemerality of material things is a theme that recurs throughout her poetry, and the resigned but passionate sadness of unhappy love is also dominant.

She is the author of the Christmas poem Love Came Down at Christmas which she published in 1885.

In her poem Wife to Husband, she adopted the roundel, a variation of the rondeau, invented by Algernon Swinburne who dedicated his collection A Century of Roundels to her.

In her later years, she suffered from Graves' disease, diagnosed in 1872, and suffered a near-fatal attack in the early 1870s. In 1893, she developed breast cancer and although the tumor was removed, it relapsed in September 1894. She died in Bloomsbury on December 29, 1894 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery. A commemorative plaque is affixed to the front of the building in Torrington Square where she died.

If she lived for a long time in the shadow of her brother, she is now considered a great poetess of the Victorian era, especially since the articles devoted to her by the British novelist and essayist Virginia Woolf.


  1. Christina Rossetti
  2. Christina Rossetti
  3. ^ a b c d e Poets, Academy of American. "About Christina Rossetti | Academy of American Poets". Archived from the original on 2 October 2023. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  4. ^ "Author Profile: Christina Rossetti", Literary Worlds,, Web, 19 May 2011.
  5. ^ Thomas 1994.
  6. ^ a b c Packer, Lona Mosk (1963) Christina Rossetti University of California Press, pp. 13–17.
  7. a b c d e f et g Michel Remy, « Rossetti, Christina Georgina [Londres 1830 - Id. 1894] », dans Béatrice Didier, Antoinette Fouque et Mireille Calle-Gruber (dir.), Dictionnaire universel des créatrices, Éditions Des femmes, 2013, p. 3746-3747
  8. (en) « Christina Rossetti », sur, 25 juin 2001 (consulté le 26 mars 2018)
  9. Encyclopædia Universalis, « CHRISTINA ROSSETTI », sur Encyclopædia Universalis (consulté le 27 mars 2018)
  10. London Metropolitan Archives – Christ Church, Albany Street (Memento des Originals vom 3. November 2013 im Internet Archive)  Info: Der Archivlink wurde automatisch eingesetzt und noch nicht geprüft. Bitte prüfe Original- und Archivlink gemäß Anleitung und entferne dann diesen Hinweis.@1@2Vorlage:Webachiv/IABot/
  11. Cayley Family History (Memento des Originals vom 4. November 2013 im Internet Archive)  Info: Der Archivlink wurde automatisch eingesetzt und noch nicht geprüft. Bitte prüfe Original- und Archivlink gemäß Anleitung und entferne dann diesen Hinweis.@1@2Vorlage:Webachiv/IABot/
  12. Geschichte der SPCK (Memento des Originals vom 23. Mai 2013 im Internet Archive)  Info: Der Archivlink wurde automatisch eingesetzt und noch nicht geprüft. Bitte prüfe Original- und Archivlink gemäß Anleitung und entferne dann diesen Hinweis.@1@2Vorlage:Webachiv/IABot/
  13. A Gallery of English and American Women Famous in Song (1875), J.M. Stoddart & Company, S. 205.
  14. 2,0 2,1 2,2 «Encyclopædia Britannica» (Αγγλικά) biography/Christina-Rossetti. Ανακτήθηκε στις 9  Οκτωβρίου 2017.
  15. 3,0 3,1 3,2 (Αγγλικά) SNAC. w6m0460d. Ανακτήθηκε στις 9  Οκτωβρίου 2017.
  16. 4,0 4,1 4,2 4,3 4,4 4,5 Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy, Patricia Clements: «The Feminist Companion to Literature in English» (Αγγλικά) 1990. σελ. 925.

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