A4 in the Humanities block is named after Christina Rossetti, one of the most vital English female writers of the 19th century who is famous for her poems exploring unattained love, death, spirituality and gender issues.
Born in England on 5th December 1830, Rossetti was the youngest of a family of extraordinarily gifted people including: her poet father Gabriele, older brother William (who became the founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood art movement) other brother Dante Gabriel (who became a famous artist) and sister Maria (an author of a respected study of Dante.)
Rossetti showed a flair for writing from an early age, with her grandfather (who owned a private press) printing her first collection of poems entitled Verses aged just 12. A few years later however, she suffered a nervous breakdown and this was reflected in many of her poems such as 'Remember Me' which featured themes of sadness, death, and loss. Around 1847, she began experimenting with styles writing sonnets, ballads and hymns and by the age of 32, Rossetti published her first full collection of work entitled 'Goblin Market and Other Poems'. This work established her name as a prominent Victorian poet. Her poems were inspired by her real-life volunteer experience at St. Mary Magdalene Penitentiary and she often explored issues of repressed sexuality and sisterhood through a combination of fantasy and moral allegory.
Rossetti was quite outspoken for a woman of her time, criticising issues such as slavery in America, animal cruelty and the exploitation of girls. On December 29, 1894, Rossetti died after suffering a recurrence of Graves’ disease and a new diagnosis of breast cancer. After her death, her poem In the Bleak Midwinter became known after Gustav Holst adapted it into a Christmas carol. The Victorian period witnessed huge changes in thinking about women’s roles in society and through her poetry, Rossetti explored this, making her one of the most important female writers of her time.
Ms M Holian