The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1830-1894

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1830
Place of Birth: London
Date of Death: 1894.12.29
Place of Death:


Christina Georgina Rossetti, a poet and writer of religious commentaries, was the daughter of the half-Italian Frances Mary Lavinia Rossetti, née Polidori, and the Italian poet and Dante scholar Gabriele Pasquale Giuseppe Rossetti. She was one of four children: Maria Frances (1827-76) became a governess, writer and later Anglican nun; Gabriel Charles Dante ('Dante Gabriel') (1828-82) was a painter and poet; and William Michael (1829-1919) a civil servant and art critic.


Christina was educated at home by her mother. In 1851 the family moved from 50 Charlotte Street, Portland Place, to 38 Arlington Street, Mornington Crescent, and she began assisting Frances Rossetti in a small day school. Mother and daughter were in sympathy with the High Church movement and in 1853 set up a day school in Frome-Selwood, Somerset under the High Church clergyman Dr Bennett, former vicar of St Barnabas' Church, Pimlico. However, the school lasted only one year. She posed for D. G. Rossetti's early paintings, including The Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1849; Tate Gallery, London). James Collinson, one of the original members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood proposed to her around 1848 but she declined on the grounds of his Roman Catholicism, herself being a devout Anglican. Later, she also rejected Charles Bagot Cayley for religious reasons. In 1850 she contributed to the Germ, the journal of the PRB, under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyn. She went on to publish a large number of poems, including 'Goblin Market', 'A Birthday', 'When I Am Dead' and 'Up-Hill', many of which concerned the themes of love and death. After a serious illness in 1874, she became increasingly reclusive. Her religious commentaries include Seek and Find (1879), Called to be Saints (1881) and The Face of the Deep (1892).


Rossetti, W. M., Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family Letters with a Memoir, London, 1895; Rossetti, W. M., Some Reminiscences, 2 vols, London, 1906; Marsh, Jan, Christina Rossetti: A Literary Biography, London, 1994; Harrison, Antony H. (ed.), The Letters of Christina Rossetti, 3 vols, Virginia, 1997.