The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Frances Mary Lavinia Rossetti, 1800-1886

Nationality: Italian
Date of Birth: 1800
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1886.04.08
Place of Death:


Frances Mary Lavinia Rossetti, née Polidori, was the fourth of the seven surviving children of Anna Maria and Gaetano Polidori, an author and Italian teacher. She had three brothers, John, who was the travelling physician of Lord Byron in 1816, Philip and Henry, and three sisters, Charlotte, Margaret and Eliza. In April 1826 she married the poet and Dante scholar Gabriele Pasquale Giuseppe Rossetti. Together they had four children, Maria Frances (1827-76), who became a governess, writer and later Anglican nun, Gabriel Charles Dante ('Dante Gabriel') (1828-82), a painter and poet, William Michael (1829-1919), a civil servant and art critic, and Christina Georgina (1830-94), a poet and writer of religious commentaries.


Before marriage, Frances Rossetti, was a governess. She taught French, Italian and religion. Later she undertook the education of both her daughters. From 1843 Gabriele Rossetti's health began to deteriorate and in 1847 he had to resign his professorship at King's College. Around 1844 Frances Rossetti once again began to take pupils in Italian and French in order to supplement the family's income. In 1851 the Rossetti family moved from 50 Charlotte Street, Portland Place, to 38 Arlington Street, Mornington Crescent, and Christina began assisting Frances Rossetti in a small day school. Frances and her daughters 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.


Rossetti, W. M., Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family Letters with a Memoir, London, 1895; Rossetti, W. M., Some Reminiscences, 2 vols, London, 1906.