Rossetti, Christina


Rossetti, Christina

▪ English poet
in full  Christina Georgina Rossetti,  pseudonym  Ellen Alleyne 
born Dec. 5, 1830, London, Eng.
died Dec. 29, 1894, London
 one of the most important of English women poets both in range and quality. She excelled in works of fantasy, in poems for children, and in religious poetry.

      Christina was the youngest child of Gabriele Rossetti and was the sister of the painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In 1847 her grandfather, Gaetano Polidori, printed on his private press a volume of her Verses, in which signs of poetic talent are already visible. In 1850, under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne, she contributed seven poems to the Pre-Raphaelite journal The Germ. In 1853, when the Rossetti family was in financial difficulties, Christina helped her mother keep a school at Frome, Somerset, but it was not a success, and in 1854 the pair returned to London, where Christina's father died. In straitened circumstances, Christina entered on her life work of companionship to her mother, devotion to her religion, and the writing of her poetry. She was a firm High Church Anglican, and in 1850 she broke her engagement to the artist James Collinson, an original member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, because he had become a Roman Catholic. For similar reasons she rejected Charles Bagot Cayley in 1864, though a warm friendship remained between them.

      In 1862 Christina published Goblin Market and Other Poems and in 1866 The Prince's Progress and Other Poems, both with frontispiece and decorations by her brother Dante Gabriel. These two collections, which contain most of her finest work, established her among the poets of her day. The stories in her first prose work, Commonplace and Other Short Stories (1870), are of no great merit, but Sing-Song: a Nursery Rhyme Book (1872; enlarged 1893), with illustrations by Arthur Hughes, takes a high place among children's books of the 19th century.

      In 1871 Christina was stricken by Graves' disease, a thyroid disorder that marred her appearance and left her life in danger. She accepted her affliction with courage and resignation, sustained by religious faith, and she continued to publish, issuing one collection of poems in 1875 and A Pageant and Other Poems in 1881. But after the onset of her illness she mostly concentrated on devotional prose writings. Time Flies (1885), a reading diary of mixed verse and prose, is the most personal of these works. Christina was considered a possible successor to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as poet laureate, but she developed a fatal cancer in 1891. New Poems (1896), published by her brother, contained unprinted and previously uncollected poems.

      Though she was haunted by an ideal of spiritual purity that demanded self-denial, Christina resembled her brother Dante Gabriel in certain ways, for beneath her humility, her devotion, and her quiet, saintlike life lay a passionate and sensuous temperament, a keen critical perception, and a lively sense of humour. Part of her success as a poet arises from the fact that, while never straining the limits of her sympathy and experience, she succeeded in uniting these two seemingly contradictory sides of her nature. There is a vein of the sentimental and didactic in her weaker verse, but at its best her poetry is strong, personal, and unforced, with a metrical cadence that is unmistakably her own. The transience of material things is a theme that recurs throughout her poetry, and the resigned but passionate sadness of unhappy love is often a dominant note.

John Bryson Ed.

Additional Reading
Mackenzie Bell, Christina Rossetti: A Biographical and Critical Study (1898, reissued 1973); Lona Mosk Packer, Christina Rossetti (1963); Georgina Battiscombe, Christina Rossetti: A Divided Life (1981); and Kathleen Jones, Learning Not To Be First: The Life of Christina Rossetti (1991), are primarily biographies. Critical analyses of her writing include Dolores Rosenblum, Christina Rossetti: The Poetry of Endurance (1986); David A. Kent (ed.), The Achievement of Christina Rossetti (1987), a collection of essays; Antony H. Harrison, Christina Rossetti in Context (1988); and Katherine J. Mayberry, Christina Rossetti and the Poetry of Discovery (1989). Edna Kotin Charles, Christina Rossetti: Critical Perspectives, 1862–1982 (1985), surveys critical responses to her poetry over 120 years.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rossetti, Christina Georgina — (1830–94)    Poet and Devotional Writer.    Rossetti was the sister of the Pre Raphaelite painter and poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. She published several books of poetry in her lifetime, many with strong Christian themes, and she was the author… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Rossetti, Christina (Georgina) — born Dec. 5, 1830, London, Eng. died Dec. 29, 1894, London English poet. The youngest child of Gabriele Rossetti and the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, she found her highest inspiration in her deep religious faith. The collections Goblin… …   Universalium

  • Rossetti, Christina (Georgina) — (5 dic. 1830, Londres, Inglaterra–29 dic. 1894, Londres). Poeta inglesa. La menor de los hijos de Gabriele Rossetti y hermana de Dante Gabriel Rossetti, encontró inspiración en su profunda fe religiosa. Los libros El Mercado de los duendes (1862) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • ROSSETTI, CHRISTINA GEORGINA —    poetess, born in London, sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and of kindred temper with her brother, but with distinct qualities of her own; her first volume, called the Goblin Market, contains a number of very beautiful short poems; she… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Rossetti, Christina Georgina — (1830 1894)    Poetess, sister of Dante Gabriel R. (q.v.), was b. in London, where she lived all her life. She began to write poetry in early girlhood, some of her earliest verse appearing in 1850 in the Germ, the magazine of the pre Raphaelites …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Christina Rossetti — Born December 5, 1830(1830 12 05) London, England Died December 29, 1894 (aged 64) Pen name …   Wikipedia

  • Christina Rossetti — Retrato de su hermano Dante Gabriel Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Christina Rossetti — [Christina Rossetti] (1830–94) an English ↑poet, the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Her poetry shows her religious faith and a romantic sadness, and she is best known for the collection The Goblin Market and Other Poems …   Useful english dictionary

  • Rossetti — Rossetti, Biagio Rossetti, Dante Gabriel * * * (as used in expressions) Rossetti, Christina (Georgina) Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti Rossetti, Gabriele (Pasquale Giuseppe) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Christina Rossetti — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Rossetti. Christina Rossetti Christina Georgina Rossetti (Londres, 5 décembre 1830 idem …   Wikipédia en Français


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