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• Christina Rossetti was the youngest of four children • Mother- Gabriele Rossetti, an Italian patriot who came to London in 1824. • She had one sister, Maria, and two brothers, Dante Gabriel and William. • Brought up as devout Anglo-Catholics. Christina’s elder sister Maria eventually became an Anglican nun.
• In 1848 she became engaged to James Collinson, a member of her brother’s Pre-Raphaelite circle. (broke it off when he became a Roman Catholic. • Next she fell in love with Charles Cayley ( she broke it off because of religious differences. • Her brother William said: “She enquired into his creed and found he was not a Christian.” Rossetti’s definition of Christianity was narrower and more evangelical than most people’s.
• Like many unmarried middle-class women of that period, Rossetti did not have any paid employment, except for about a year when she and her mother tried to run a day school after failing health and eyesight forced her father to retire in 1853.
• Christina Rossetti’s family was very important to her. Although she loved two different men, and it is clear from her poetry that she could express feelings of love and the heartbreak of losing love, she never married or broke away from home. Her brothers and sister were central to her emotions and she was deeply upset by Dante Gabriel’s nervous breakdown in 1872. • He died in 1882; she lived as a recluse at home, concentrating on her religious life. • After a period of ill health Christina Rossetti died of cancer on 29 December 1894.
• Poetry inspired by her religion.
• Many poems, such as When I am Dead, My Dearest, Remember and Up-Hill, are concerned with the nearness of death and the renunciation of earthly love. • Her love of God is passionately expressed in Long Barren, and her poem In the Bleak Mid- Winter is well known as a Christmas carol. • Also a poet who demonstrates in her work, a love of nature. Another Spring and Spring Quiet show an exactness of observation which her Pre-Raphaelite brothers would have undoubtedly appreciated. • Her poem A Birthday is a rapturous expression of delight in love. • She also shows a malicious appreciation of sisterly jealousies in her poem Two Noble Sisters.
• Among her works is Sing-Song, A Nursery Rhyme Book, published in 1872, which contains lyrics for young children. • Many people consider that her best work is Goblin Market (1862), the longest of her poems. Because goblins sound as if they belong in a fairy story, it is often put in collections for young children. However, it is really a short epic poem for adults. • The most obvious quality of the writing is the exactness and sensuousness of her descriptions of the fruit sold by the goblins.
Comparisons to Other poets
• The nearest comparison in English poetry to this must be the description of the feast in Keats’ The Eve of St Agnes. The most striking thing about the subject matter is its eeriness. • Some people have seen this poem as an allegory, in which the fruits offered by the goblins stand for the pleasures of the world, though according to Christina’s brother William she denied that it was anything more than ‘a fairy story’. • However, many modern readers may make a connection with the temptations and effects of narcotic drugs. • This may not be a connection that Rossetti intended, but the description of Laura yielding to temptation and her subsequent illness would have been familiar to such families as the Brontës, whose brother Branwell died of an addiction to drink and drugs, and to Coleridge, who suffered from a lifelong addiction to opium.