Biography and History

Christina Rossetti, poet and sister to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was born on December 5, 1830 in London, England. She published her first volume of poetry, Verses, on her grandfather’s private press under the name Ellen Alleyne. Three years later seven of her poems appeared in The Germ under the same pseudonym. In 1853 Rossetti lived in France with her mother as they tried, unsuccessfully, to start a school. They returned to London the next year. Rossetti continued to publish her poetry, producing her two most acclaimed volumes, Goblin Market and Other Poems and The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems, during the 1860s. She also produced a volume of short stories, but her prose was not received as well. She found greater success in her book of nursery rhymes, published in 1872. Rossetti was unfortunately struck with Grave’s Disease in 1871, and relied greatly on her religion. Despite her poor health, she continued to publish, though effects of the disease can be seen in her writing. Rossetti passed away on December 29, 1894.

Source: From the finding aid for C0222

Biography and History

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) achieved fame in her lifetime as a poet, based primarily upon the publication in 1862 of the volume Goblin Market and Other Poems. She published The Prince's Progress in 1866 and A Pageant in 1881, as well as devotional manuals and works of religious edification, which reflect her profoundly religious temperament. Although her father's anti-establishment influence prevented her from being a Roman Catholic, she was High Church Anglican.

Her older sister Maria Francesca Rossetti (1827-1876) followed her equally strong religious inclinations by entering an Anglican sisterhood at All Saints' Home in 1874, after her brother William's marriage freed her from domestic responsibilities. Up until that time she had also occupied herself in teaching Italian and in religious educational work. Her commentary on Dante, A Shadow of Dante, was published in 1871.

Their older brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) achieved fame as both a painter and a poet. He studied drawing at King's College, London, and painting at the Royal Academy. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite School of Painting and enjoyed the patronage of John Ruskin, the Pre-Raphaelites' champion in the press. His poetic gift is reflected both in his translations of Italian poetry, published in 1861, and in his original poems, published in volumes which appeared in 1870 and in 1881.

The fourth Rossetti sibling, William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), served in the Excise Office, later the Inland Revenue Board, from 1845 until his retirement in 1894. As well as being an active reviewer and art critic, he edited the poetic works of his brother Dante Gabriel and his sister Christina.

The Rossetti and Heimann families met because the Rossetti's father Gabriele was professor of Italian at King's College, London, an appointment he held starting in 1831, and Adolf Heimann was professor of German at University College. Their acquaintance began when the families agreed to exchange Italian lessons for German lessons. It grew into a friendship which lasted through the century.

Source: From the finding aid for C0773


  • Poets, English -- 19th century..
  • Janet Camp Troxell Collection of Rossetti Manuscripts. 1832-1965 (inclusive), 1860-1900 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0189

    Contains over 3000 manuscripts relating to the Rossetti's and their friends. While Dante Gabriel is the central figure, his brother and sisters (William Michael, Christina Georgina, Maria Francesca) are also represented, as are several other members of the Polidori/Rossetti families. The material in the collection was acquired by Janet (Camp) Troxell between 1930 and 1965.

  • Christina Georgina Rossetti Collection. circa 1850-1894 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0222

    Consists primarily of signed autograph manuscripts--over 50 letters and 19 poems--of Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894), a poet and sister of Dante Gabriel and William Michael Rossetti.

  • Rossetti Family Letters to the Heimann Family. circa 1843-1896 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0773

    The Rossetti Family Letters to the Heimann Family collection consists primarily of letters written over a period of almost five decades by Christina Georgina Rossetti to Mrs. Adolf Heimann, the wife of a professor of German at University College, London, who was a colleague of her father, Gabriele Rossetti, a professor of Italian at King's College, London. It also contains letters by her mother, Frances, and her three siblings, Dante Gabriel, Maria Francesca, and William Michael, to various members of the Heimann family.