Christina Rossetti

English poet Christina Georgina Rossetti Was born 5 December 1830. She wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children’s poems, including Goblin Market, Remember, and the words of the Christmas carol “In the Bleak Midwinter”. Rossetti was educated at home by her mother, who had her study religious works, classics, fairy tales and novels. Rossetti enjoyed the works of Keats, Scott, Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis. The influence of the work of Dante Alighieri, Petrarch and other Italian writers had a deep impact on Rossetti’s later writing. The family homes in Bloomsbury at 38 and later 50 Charlotte Street were within easy reach of Madam Tussauds, London Zoo and the newly opened Regent’s Park, which she visited regularly, Rossetti was very much a London child, and, it seems, a happy one.

ln the 1840s, her family faced severe financial difficulties due to the deterioration of her father’s physical and mental health. He had Bronchitis, possibly tuberculosis, and faced losing his sight. He gave up his teaching post at King’s College and though he lived another 11 years, he suffered from depression and was never physically well again. So Rossetti’s mother began teaching and Maria became a live-in governess. At this time her brother William was working for the Excise Office and Gabriel was at art school, leading Christina’s life at home to become one of increasing isolation. When she was 14, Rossetti suffered a nervous breakdown and left school. Bouts of depression and related illness followed. She, became deeply interested in theAnglo-Catholic movement that developed in the Church of England. Religious devotion came to play a major role in Rossetti’s life

In her late teens, Rossetti became engaged to the painter James Collinson. like her brothers Dante and William, he was one of the founding members of the avant-garde artistic group, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The engagement was broken in 1850 when he reverted to Catholicism. Later she became involved with the linguist Charles Cayley, but declined to marry him, also for religious reasons. The third offer came from the painter John Brett, whom she also refused.Rossetti sat for several of Dante Rossetti’s most famous paintings. In 1848, she was the model for the Virgin Mary in his first completed oil painting, The Girlhood of Mary Virgin, which was the first work to be inscribed with the initials ‘PRB’, ( Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood).The following year she modelled again for his depiction of the Annunciation, Ecce Ancilla Domini. A line from her poem “Who shall deliver me?” inspired the famous painting by Fernand Khnopff called “I lock my door upon myself”. In 1849 she became seriously ill again, suffering from depression and also had a major religious crisis.

Rossetti began writing down and dating her poems from 1842, and From 1847 she began experimenting with verse forms such as sonnets, hymns and ballads; drawing narratives from the Bible, folk tales and the lives of the saints. Her early pieces often feature meditations on death and loss. She published her first two poems (“Death’s Chill Between” and “Heart’s Chill Between”), which appeared in the Athenaeum, in 1848 when she was 18. Under the pen-name “Ellen Alleyne”, she contributed to the literary magazine, The Germ, published by the Pre-Raphaelites from January – April 1850 and edited by her brother William. Her most famous collection, Goblin Market and Other Poems, appeared in 1862, when she was 31. It received widespread praise, establishing her as the main female poet of the time. Hopkins, Swinburne and Tennyson lauded her work.Rossetti was hailed as a successor to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. one of Rossetti’s best known works Goblin Market Is about the misadventures of two sisters’ when they encounter goblins.

Rossetti was a volunteer worker from 1859 to 1870 at the St. Mary Magdalene “house of charity” in Highgate, a refuge for former prostitutes and it is suggested Goblin Market may have been inspired by the “fallen women” she came to know.There are parallels with Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner given both poems’ religious themes of temptation, sin and redemption by vicarious suffering. Swinburne in 1883 dedicated his collection A Century of Roundels to Rossetti as she had adopted his roundelform in a number of poems, as exampled by her Wife to Husband She was ambivalent about women’s suffrage, but many scholars have identified feminist themes in her poetry. She was opposed to slavery (in the American South), cruelty to animals (in the prevalent practice of animal experimentation), and the exploitation of girls in under-age prostitution.

Rossetti maintained a very large circle of friends and correspondents and continued to write and publish for the rest of her life, primarily focusing on devotional writing and children’s poetry. In 1892, Rossetti wrote The Face of the Deep, a book of devotional prose, and oversaw the production of a new and enlarged edition ofSing-Song, published in 1893.ln the later decades of her life, Rossetti suffered from Graves Disease, diagnosed in 1872 suffering a nearly fatal attack in the early 1870s. ln 1893, she developed breast cancer and though the tumour was removed, she suffered a recurrence in September 1894. She died in Bloomsbury on 29 December 1894 and was buried inHighgate Cemetery. The place where she died, in Torrington Square, is marked with a stone table

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