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Collection Overview

Rossetti, Christina Georgina, 1830-1894
Rossetti Family Letters to the Heimann Family
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
circa 1843-1896
4 boxes and 1.45 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-4


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.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Rossetti Family Letters to the Heimann Family collection consists almost entirely of letters written by the four Rossetti siblings, Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Maria Francesca Rossetti (1827-1876), and William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), as well as by their mother, Frances Polydori Rossetti, to members of the German-Jewish emigré family of Dr. Adolf Heimann. The bulk of the letters, 293, are from Christina Rossetti, primarily to Mrs. Heimann. The next largest series is 46 letters from Maria Francesca Rossetti, primarily also to Mrs. Heimann. There are 14 letters from William Michael Rossetti to the Heimanns and 14 from Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The collection also contains six letters from Frances Rossetti to the Heimann family. The last series, Letters of Other People, includes three letters from Jane Morris to Mrs. Heimann, as well as a letter from Cathy Hueffer to Christina Rossetti. Cathy Hueffer was the younger sister of William Michael Rossetti's wife, Lucy Madox Brown, and daughter of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's painting teacher, Ford Madox Brown. Also included is a first edition of Maria 's book on Dante, A Shadow of Dante (1871), that has three additional letters by Maria to Mrs. Heimann tipped in.


The letters for the most part do not bear exact dates, but were dated according to the envelopes that were kept with them; hence, the actual date of the letter may be as much as a day before the date on the envelope. A letter which was dated this way has "/ env." indicated with it in the collection outline. In the early 1870s Christina Rossetti was afflicted with Graves' disease. Analysis of her handwriting has helped us to estimate the dates of letters from this period.

Collection Creator Biography:

Rossetti, Christina Georgina, 1830-1894

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.

Collection History


The Rossetti Family Letters to the Heimann Family were purchased at auction in July, 1994, at Sotheby's in London, and the collection was augmented by an additional purchase at auction in March 2001. Maria Francesca's volume on Dante was purchased in 2002.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Margaret Sherry in 1995. Finding aid written by Margaret Sherry in 1995.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Rossetti Family Letters to the Heimann Family; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-4

Find More

Related Materials

The John Hay Archives at Brown University contains five more letters from Christina Rossetti to Mrs. Heimann, dating from the year 1869, as part of the Harry Lyman Koopman Collection. It is believed that there may also be other letters held in England, but that the bulk of the correspondence is indeed at Princeton. Princeton also has several other Rossetti collections, most notably the Janet Camp Troxell Collection of Rossetti Manuscripts, which includes a large amount of correspondence.

Subject Terms:
Poets, English -- 19th century.
Women poets, English -- 19th century -- Correspondence.
Genre Terms:
Rossetti family.
Heimann, Amelia Barnard
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1828-1882.
Rossetti, Maria Francesca, 1827-1876
Rossetti, William Michael, 1829-1919