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Christina Rossetti was one of the most vital English female writers of the 19th century and best-known for her love of poetry, ballads, religious poetry and nursery rhymes. Among her famous works are the collections of Goblin Market and the Prince’s Progress.
See the fact file below for more information on Christina Rossetti or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Christina Rossetti worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life and Interests
- Christina Georgina Rossetti was born on December 5, 1890, in London, England, to a family of Italian artists and scholars. Her father, Gabriele Rossetti was a known poet, while her brothers William and Dante Gabriel became the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood art movement. Her mother, Frances Polidori, was half-English and half-Italian whom her father met after immigrating to England. Christina was the youngest among the Rossetti siblings following Maria Francesca, Gabriel Charles Dante, and William Michael.
- Young Christina was first educated by her mother through religious texts such as the Bible, and the writings of St. Augustine. When she learned to read, she favored works like The Arabian Nights and Fairy Mythology.
- When she was 12 years old, her grandfather Gaetano Polidori, who owned a private press, printed her first collection of poems entitled Verses. At the age of 19, Christina became a contributor of poems to the Pre-Raphaelite journal The Germ, under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyn. The journal was founded by her brother William and his friends. Among her poems published in the journal were Dreamland, An End, Song, A Pause of Thought, A Testimony, Repining, and Sweet Death.
- As a teenager, Christina suffered a nervous breakdown, which was diagnosed during those time as ‘religious mania.’ She was a committed High Church Anglican who began to reject suitors who did not share her precise religious convictions.
- In 1850, Rosetti broke her engagement with James Collinson, who was an original member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, after he converted to Roman Catholicism. By 1864, she did the same to Charles Bagot Cayley.
Rosetti’s Literary Career
- In 1862, at the age of 32, Rossetti published her first full collection of work entitled Goblin Market and Other Poems. Her work established her name as an important Victorian poet. Rossetti’s poems explored repressed sexuality and sisterhood through a combination of fantasy and moral allegory. They were inspired by her real-life volunteer experience at St. Mary Magdalene Penitentiary in Highgate for prostitutes and unmarried mothers.
- Among her poems influenced by the implications of illicit love, illegitimacy, and betrayal include The Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children, From Sunset to Star Rise, and Cousin Kate.
In the early 1960s, Rossetti became acquainted with other female poets, including Jean Ingelow, and Dora Greenwell. Moreover, she published poems in feminist periodicals like The English Woman’s Journal and Victoria Magazine.
- In the winter of 1864 to 1865, Rossetti spent her time in Hastings working on her next poetry volume, The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems, which was published a year later. Her work was received with mildly favorable reviews compared to the Goblin Market.
- In 1867, Rossetti published her poems The Waves of this Troublesome World: A Tale of Hastings Ten Years Ago, Some Pros and Cons about Pews, and A Safe Investment in The Churchman’s Schilling magazine.
- In 1872, her collection of poems for children, Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book, was published by Routledge. It received favorable reviews and the readers particularly praised Arthur Hughes’ illustrations.
- In 1874, Rossetti published her first six volumes of devotional poems entitled Annus Domini: A Prayer for Each Day of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture. Her devotional prose depicts her symbolic method for conveying meaning. All texts are arranged in order of their appearance in the Bible.
- That same year, she returned to Macmillan for the publication of Speaking Likeness. It consists of three tales from the dialogues among an aunt and her nieces, which were inspired by Alice Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Death and Legacy
- In the 1880s, Rossetti’s social life was restricted due to her recurrent bouts of Graves’ disease she developed a decade earlier. Despite her illness, she continued to write poems including A Pageant and Other Poem, The Face of the Deep, Seek and Find, Called to be Saints, and Complete Poems, which was later edited and published by her brother, William.
- Rossetti is often compared to Emily Dickinson because of their choice of spiritual topics rather than their poetic approach.
- She is known for using gothic themes, medievalism, and Christian symbolism, which established her as a Pre-Raphaelite writer.
- Among her other works include Commonplace and Other Stories, a set of fairy tales, which did not impress her critics, and Maude: Prose and Verse, an autobiographical novel she wrote in 1850.
- On December 29, 1894, Rossetti died in Bloomsbury after suffering a recurrence of Graves’ disease and breast cancer.
- Academics began to study her work thoroughly in the 1970s. They explored Freudian themes in her works, which later influenced writers like Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Jennings, and Philip Larkin.
- After her death, her poem In the Bleak Midwinter became known after Gustav Holst used it as a Christmas carol.
Christina Rossetti Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Christina Rossetti across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Christina Rossetti worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Christina Rossetti who was one of the most vital English female writers of the 19th century and best-known for her love of poetry, ballads, religious poetry and nursery rhymes. Among her famous works are the collections of Goblin Market and the Prince’s Progress.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Christina Rossetti Facts
- The Poetess
- Famous Victorian Poets
- Titles and Symbols
- Behind Pseudonyms
- The Thread of Life
- Love and Religion
- Macabre Painting
- Victorian Feminism
- Rossetti Web
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