Christina Rossetti: Biography, Themes & Famous Poems

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

This lesson details the life of the poet Christina Rossetti. Learn about her works, particularly her most famous piece, Goblin Market, as well as common themes in her writing, then test your knowledge with a short quiz.

Saving the Best for Last

Being the youngest child can come with some difficulties. There may be an older brother or sister to live up to, and there is the inevitable problem of hand-me-downs, especially in a large family. Sometimes, however, the youngest child becomes the most well-known, even in a family known for its writers and artists. This happened with Christina Rossetti, the poet known for her religious and romantic works. While she was not appreciated as much during her lifetime, her work has since become known worldwide, particularly her poem 'Goblin Market'.

Biography

Christina Rossetti, the youngest child in the Rossetti family, was born in London in December 1830. She was precocious and had an active imagination as a child, making up stories and rhymes before she could even write! Rossetti's parents were comfortably well-off, and her father was a scholar and teacher at King's College. Both her parents were from Italy, and she and her siblings were taught a great deal at home. Her older siblings were artists and writers, and Christina followed in their footsteps.

In the 1840s, Rossetti's father was taken ill and became depressed, giving up his teaching position. Her mother and sister had to go to work to support the family, and Rossetti became depressed herself and stopped attending school. She turned to religion as a support, and this change in her life would have a great impact on her work. Rossetti was engaged two times, but she broke off both due to religious differences (she also declined a third proposal for unknown reasons).

She never married and instead focused on her work. She also contributed to her community, working with former prostitutes to rehabilitate them. This work is considered to have influenced Rossetti's most well-known work, 'Goblin Market.' She developed Grave's disease in her later life, in addition to breast cancer. A recurrence of the latter caused her demise in 1894 at the age of 64.

Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti

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